There are some common misconceptions about signing with your child. We’re going to bust those myths so you can make an educated decision and get started!
Myth 1 – There’s a perfect time to start (and we might have missed it): Parents always ask us if it is too soon or too early to sign with their child. The truth is, American Sign Language (ASL) can be started at any time, just like any other second language. Anytime is a good time to begin signing!
Myth 2- There is a perfect way to start signing: The truth is, just like with speech, as long as you are signing on a consistent basis and keeping it fun, children are going to pick up on the language one way or another. Just pick the number of signs you are comfortable with, get going on those, and you can always add more later.
Myth 3 – She’s not signing yet – she must not be interested: If you’ve started signing with your child (of any age) and she doesn’t seem to be signing back, don’t get discouraged! Just like with speech, a child’s rate of signing comes naturally, at her own individual pace. Be on the lookout for subtle signs of understanding. You’re likely to see that before you see an actual sign, especially for younger children. Watch for a light or twinkle in the eye when you sign MILK and the child is hungry! Or watch their little feet start kicking as you pull out the bottle or prepare to nurse while signing EAT. They may not be signing just yet, but they are most certainly absorbing the language, and getting ready to wow you.
Myth 4 – It’s too hard for me to learn: The idea of learning a second language is pretty intimidating for many adults. One of the really great things about sign language is that it is multi-sensory. We say and hear words we sign, but we also see and feel the sign. This does something unique in the brain, triggering muscle memory, along with language learning. The signs stick.
Myth 5 – The form of signing we choose doesn’t really matter: If you were to just research sign language, you would find many variations used in America and Canada. We feel quite strongly that American Sign Language (ASL) should be the language of choice for those learning to sign with children. The reasons for this are fairly straightforward. First, ASL is the language of the Deaf Community. You wouldn’t dare modify a spoken language (such as Spanish) to make it easier, right? Nor should you for signing.