Most children are not developmentally ready to speak until approximately 2 years of age. Babies are developmentally able to communicate with signs much earlier than that. Some studies indicate children as young as 5 to 6 months of age can communicate with limited signs. The inability to communicate can cause frustration and tantrums for both the parent and the child! Sign language is a wonderful tool that allows even very small children to express themselves.
How early can I start?
Start signing now. You can sign "milk" to your newborn when it's time to nurse or time for a bottle. Sign "sleep" at nap and bedtimes. Sign more to your infant in-between each spoonful at mealtime. Sign the colors you see in your toddler or preschooler's favorite bedtime story. This will help integrate signs into your daily routine. Soon the repetition and reinforcement will occur naturally as your child grows.
My child is already talking. Is it too late to start?
Learning a second language is fun and has many developmental benefits. ASL stimulates learning through different senses. Sign language is a blessing for children that are "visual", "spatial" or "tactile learners." Learning a second language raises your child's IQ. One in ten Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Knowing a few signs can give your child the confidence to engage and interact with a deaf child rather than both children feeling awkward and helpless.
Will learning sign delay my child's speech?
Our experience has been the opposite. If your goal is communication, then signing will meet that communication need much earlier than speech. When a young child waves, 'bye, bye' for the first time, parents clap and cheer. No one thinks, the child will never say 'bye, bye' because they signed it first. Likewise, giving signs for other concepts your child is already thinking, will not delay them learning to say those concepts.
Hand in Hand Sign
Bringing the benefits of sign language to children.