Using Sign Language for Classroom Management

By Colleen Brunetti, M.Ed., C.H.C

Many people are familiar with the idea of what is known as “baby sign language”. The idea that a pre-verbal infant or a toddler with emerging verbal skills can use sign language to communicate with caregivers is immensely attractive to many people. However, time after time I hear, “Oh yes, we signed MILK and MORE with Tommy, but then he started talking and we stopped.”

 

You know, I did the same thing! I signed with my son when he was an infant and then let it fade as he became verbal. However, after joining the Signing Time Academy, I began to learn of the many benefits of signing with children who can already talk, and we started right up again. (Click HERE for a great summary of all the benefits)

 

While we could do about a dozen blog posts on sign language and language and literacy development, another of the primary benefits of signing with older children happens in the classroom, where the teacher can use sign language as a form of classroom management.

 

We suggest the following signs: PAY ATTENTION, LINE UP, QUIET, WAIT, STOP, GO, SHARE, FRIEND, YES, NO, and the ever-popular POTTY.

 

Imagine a classroom where the teacher is able to teach a class or a group, and quietly dismiss a student to the bathroom with a quick sign. Or a classroom where transitions are quiet and orderly as children tune into a teacher’s signs and quietly line up. A classroom where a children’s social and emotional development are supported as they indicate during a game that they are taking turns and sharing, all with a sign, would be a very inviting place. Starting the school year out with these signs is the great way to set the path for classroom success. Teach two or three signs each day. Practice signing with the class, and let the children practice the signs with one another. Then begin to implement them into the routine of your day. You will be amazed at how quickly the kids catch on (and how likely they are to start requesting more and more signs as you go!).

 

Starting the school year out with these signs is the great way to set the path for classroom success. Teach two or three signs each day. Practice signing with the class, and let the children practice the signs with one another. Then begin to implement them into the routine of your day. You will be amazed at how quickly the kids catch on (and how likely they are to start requesting more and more signs as you go!).

 

Learn the above signs and try them out in your classroom or home. Let us know how it goes!

 

For more classroom related signs, and to integrate signing more fully into your curriculum, check out these resources:

 

Signing Time Classroom Edition
Signing Time Series One Welcome to School
Preschool and Child Care Program
Preschool and Child Care Program

 

 

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