Helping Your Clients To See Signing as Learning

By Colleen Brunetti, M.Ed.

Take a moment to think about why people take your signing classes. Many of my clients have told me they want to know what their baby wants before spoken language has developed. Some appreciate the bonding opportunity. Others are just looking for something to do with their infant or toddler and signing classes seem like a good social opportunity. These are all great reasons to take a signing class!

But have your clients started to see the cognitive benefits of signings? In other words, do they see signing as learning, at least beyond some simple vocabulary that a baby can use?

As Signing Time Academy Instructors, it is a really good idea for us to become very familiar with the research on how sign language supports and enhances language and literacy development.

There are two great resources to get you started with this. The first is a summary of the research, a White Paper commissioned by Two Little Hands Productions, which can be found on this link: , Signing with Babies and Children: A Summary of Research Findings for Parents and Professionals.

The second source is a personal favorite of mine, the book Dancing With Words, by Dr. Marilyn Daniels. This book opens up the world of using sign language with children who have reached a verbal stage, particularly preschool and Kindergarten. It contains great information that you can share not only with your signing families, but with professionals in workshops and presentations too… and maybe it will help you sell a Classroom Edition or Preschool and Childcare Program or two. I know it has for me!

I’m going to provide you with a quick summary of highlights from the resources above, and suggest that you memorize them so that you can quickly rattle it off to someone who is interested. In business we call this the “elevator speech”… something you can tell people that summarizes a big concept in a few sentences, or about the time it takes to ride an elevator (and about the time people may give you their attention!) There are two here. One is for parents, and one is for educators. Feel free to change my words to something that works for you, this is just to get you started:

For Parents: Studies show that children who sign in the infancy and toddler years have better language skills and even a higher IQ than children who did not use sign language. Signing key words while reading together is a great way for you and your child to be involved in a story, something that research has shown increases literacy!

For Educators: Studies have shown that teachers who use a combination of spoken and sign language in the classroom helped their students develop bigger spoken vocabularies at the end of the year! Furthermore, Kindergartners who had signing teachers had higher letter recognition and a greater understanding of concepts about print. When you practice finger spelling, it can even help your child learn spelling words! There are so many aspects of learning that sign language can support!

As Signing Time Academy instructors we have such a gift to give children, families, and educators. This is a great way to star talking about the benefits that go beyond signing MILK and MORE!

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