Salt Lake City, Utah – In order to become successful readers later in life, it’s essential for children to be given the necessary skills at a young age. One thing that Millcreek child development centers, and centers around the country, are utilizing to help babies and toddlers is sign language.
Many day cares teach basic phonemic awareness and other components that assist in oral language development and print awareness. But now, savvy early childhood educators are incorporating sign language and fingerspelling to help children develop early reading skills.
“There are many different styles of learning, ” says Bethany Hosking, owner of three West Jordan preschool facilities. “The benefit of using sign language is that children with different styles of learning can pick it up easily, even those with special needs. And it’s fun!”
Even Preverbal Children Benefit
Recent years have seen an influx of baby signing classes, but it’s more than just a trendy thing for moms to do with their babies. Sing language can increase bonding between caregiver and child. It also helps children develop their fine motor skills and comprehend words better.
Research shows that by 6 months old, babies are capable of learning a sign. At 8 months old the baby can then imitate gestures and sign single words. At 2 years old, a child can sign full sentences and compound words. Sign language can reduce frustration because it allows a child who cannot speak verbally to still communicate a want or need to caregivers. Teaching children basic signs, such as those for “drink, ” “eat, ” “more, ” “please, ” and “thank you” can help children get their message across before they can speak.
Language Development Improved by Sign Language Use
Sign language can help children understand what words mean because it involves movement that illustrates the meaning of the word. Using multiple modes of learning, such as both speaking and then signing a word, helps children imprint a concept. This strengthens their ability to recall and enhances oral language development for reading comprehension.
Fingerspelling allows children who may not have the ability to correctly articulate certain sounds to still communicate effectively. Early on in speech development, it is common for small children to confuse letter sounds or be unable to clearly pronounce certain sounds. Fingerspelling allows them to be understood clearly.
“Through the use of sign language, children of all backgrounds, learning styles and achievement levels can communicate effectively, ” says Hosking, whose schools also have a private kindergarten program. “Sign language can help bridge the gap even for children who don’t have access to an abundance of language in their home life, meaning they won’t fall behind in reading comprehension skills. ”
Finding the right day care for children is essential to ensure proper development. Looking for a program that incorporates skills such as sign language will enhance a child’s ability to communicate before they are fully verbal, and allow children to develop important skills they need to become strong and effective readers.
Learning Tree Schools was established in 1979 as a preschool. The programs are tailored to children of various ages from infants to grade school. Visit www.LearningTreeUtah.com for more information.
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