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3 reasons all kids should learn basic American Sign Language

  1. Signing supports visual, auditory, AND kinesthetic learning
  2. Kids score higher on vocabulary tests when they use signs to learn new words
  3. Signing can also have a positive impact on cognitive development and social skills

Where do I start learning sign language basics?

The Sign Language videos in our Two Little Hands Basic Sign Language System is the best place to start. Our Basic Sign Language System includes all of our product lines that help you learn sign language through music. Baby Signing Time for ages 0-3 teaches baby’s first 100 words in ASL signs. Potty Time teaches signs that make potty training easier and more funSigning Time for ages 3-8 is the ideal place for older children to learn the basics of American Sign Language while building your vocabulary. Learn how to sign words and simple phrases through music and repetition. Signing Time Sentences teaches kids ages 3+ how to put ASL signs together to start having their first conversations in ASL. Rachel & the TreeSchoolers for kids 2-8 teaches science through songs and signs.

Where can I learn Sign Language online?

SignIt ASL is ideal for anyone with an interest in learning beginning sign language. Learn ASL vocabulary, phrases, sentences, grammar, Deaf culture, and much more from this online ASL curriculum. Featuring the stars of Signing Time (Alex, Leah and Rachel Coleman), and ASL comedian Keith Wann

SignIt ASL Includes:

  • fun chapter videos with voice on/off feature
  • fingerspelling, vocabulary, and sentence practice
  • chapter quizzes with scoring and progress tracking
  • receptive conversation practice and tests
  • comprehensive ASL dictionary

If your child is deaf, apply for a free ASL class at www.MyDeafChild.org

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Let parents of children with hearing loss ages 0-36 months know they can get SignIt ASL free!

SignIt ASL is an online curriculum that will teach fingerspelling, vocabulary, sentence structure, and deaf culture.

Q. Will it take a lot of time to learn to sign?

Parenting can be very overwhelming because there never seems to be enough time. This is why we created Signing Time. It does the work for you and makes learning American Sign Language fun for all ages. You don’t have to learn an entire language. Even learning two or three key vocabulary words like MORE or MILK will be beneficial! Learning American Sign Language together will also promote bonding as well as communication.

Q. Do I have to become fluent in ASL?

No, you don’t (unless you have a really good reason to!). Signing Time provides parenting tools for communication through the use of American Sign Language. I think you will be surprised how useful it is to learn even a few signs.

If fluency is your goal, ASL, like any second language, takes time and practice. Surrounding yourself with others that are fluent will really boost your skills and your confidence.

If you are interested in learning more, search for a Signing Time Academy Instructor near you by clicking here for story times, Mommy and Me classes, teacher workshops, and more.

Do I have to become fluent in ASL?

Q.What does research say about signing?

There’s a lot of great research out there on this topic! Claire Vallotton, Ph.D. has made it easy for you to get all the major research findings in her white paper, Signing with Babies and Children.

There is some indication that signs help children and adults understand and remember the concepts represented by words. In a case study by Claire Vallotton, each time the child learned the sign for a certain concept, the word followed shortly after it, from the time the child was 8 months until 18 months [28]. Meredith Rowe and Susan Goldin-Meadow studied 52 typically developing children from toddlerhood to preschool age; they found that the number of different concepts children represented through gestures at 18 months predicted their vocabulary at 42 months [29]. Finally, there are several studies that have shown that the same areas of the brain –the areas for understanding meaning in symbols – are activated by symbolic gestures and signs as well as by words [7]. And a study by Spencer Kelly and colleagues has shown that these meaningful hand movements which activate this area of the brain make learning a new word easier [7, 30].

Q. What does the American Academy of Pediatrics say about screen time for infants and toddlers?

The American Academy of Pediatrics released updated media guidelines for parents of infants and toddlers in 2016. Screen time that fosters interaction, such as video chats with grandparents, and videos that help babies learn words are among the approved uses of media for babies, albeit with limits. Read more. Our sign language videos promote interaction as you sign along with Rachel as she teaches each sign.

What does the American Academy of Pediatrics say about screen time for infants and toddlers?

How do I sign Please?

Learn how to sign Please in Sign Language:

  1. Take one hand and place it flat on your chest, fingers separated out slightly.
  2. Circle your hand on your chest a couple of times.
  3. Make sure your facial expression reflects how much you want what you are asking please for!

It’s an important one for early manners!

Teaching Tips: Model the sign for please (and thank you!) from a very early age. Each time you hand your child something he wants, cue him to sign please. It’s okay to do a little hand over hand guidance with this simple sign. Eventually he’ll learn to do it himself with a simple word cue or verbal reminder. Foundations of early childhood education often include teaching manners. Encourage slightly older children to practice their manners with one another as well as adults by signing please and thank you frequently.


How do I sign Thank You?

Learn how to sign Thank You in Sign Language:

  1. Hold one flat hand up to your chin, palm facing in.
  2. Pull the hand forward until it stops palm up.
  3. Make sure your face looks like you are also gracious and saying thank you! Give a little smile and maybe a nod.

Learn how to sign thank you – its an important sign for good manners!

Teaching Tips: Teaching sign language to babies is a great way to start laying the foundation for good manners. Start to teach this sign by modeling. Whenever your child hands you something say, “Oh! Thank you!” and sign. You can also cue your child to respond when someone gives her something with a thank you. Try this little poem and sign thank you, please, and share: “I have super manners. Yes, I do. I can say Please and Thank You too. When I play with friends, I like to share. That’s the way I show I care.” Transcript: You hold your flat hand up to your chin and bring it down. Thank you. Thank you. Now you try! Thank you.

How do I sign Sorry?

Learn how to sign Sorry in Sign Language:

  1. Make a fist and lay it on your chest, right over your heart.
  2. Rub the fist in a circle a few times.
  3. At the same time, show how sorry you are by your facial expression.
  4. When you’re sorry, you feel it in your heart. Use this cue to help you remember the sign.

Learn how to sign sorry. Sometimes you just have to say sorry and make amends.

Teaching Tips: Teaching sign language to children early on can help them manage their emotions and learn their manners! Teach sorry, please and thank you early on. While we want toddlers to say they are sorry to friends when things go amiss, it’s a bit of a hard concept to teach! You can model the sign and help your child sign it whenever they need to say sorry to start. Eventually, they will catch on and do it alone too.

How do I sign More?

Learn how to sign More in Sign Language:

  1. Place your fingertips on each hand together.
  2. Tap the finger tips of both hands together a couple of times.
  3. This sign looks like you are holding on to just a little bit more of something. Use this visual to help you remember the sign.

Learn how to sign more. It is often one of the first signs children will pick up when given the opportunity!

Teaching Tips: Practice this sign at mealtimes when you are first introducing it. Offer just a piece or two of a favorite food. Once it has been eaten, ask your child, “Do you want more?” and sign. You can encourage him to sign back by gently tapping his own fingertips together at first. As soon as you see the sign (independent or with guidance), exclaim, “MORE! Okay! Let’s have some more. Yummy!!” Using food is quite motivating and makes this sign one of the easiest ones to pick up. Basic sign language for babies very often starts with the word MORE! You can model this sign in lots of places. With food, play, tickles, songs, and more. Whenever your child clearly wants more of something, be it item or an activity, sign more and encourage him to do the same.

How do I sign Yes!

Learn how to sign Yes in Sign Language:

  1. Hold one hand up in a fist. Bend the wrist up and down a few times. You can smile and nod at the same time.
  2. This sign looks like you are shaking your head (or hand!) yes. Use this visual to help you remember the sign.

Learn how to sign yes – a child’s favorite thing to hear when they ask for something!

Teaching Tips: Sign language for babies can incorporate simple concepts like yes and no very early. Even before children can talk, you can ask things like, “Do you want a snack? Yes? Okay!” Sign want, snack, and yes. Eventually your child will pick up and sign to you first. Each time a child asks a yes or no question answer with the word and the sign. Encourage your child to answer your yes and no questions with sign as well.

How do I sign No?

To sign No in Sign Language:

  1. Bring one hand up about shoulder height. Connect the pointer and middle finger and extend the thumb out, while tucking the remaining fingers into the palm.
  2. Tap the fingertips of the pointer and middle finger to the thumb.
  3. You can shake your head no as you do this sign.
  4. You can use body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions to stress how much you mean no. For instance, if your child is doing something silly and you want him to stop, your use of no will be much more lighthearted than if you are stopping a dangerous or rude action.

Learn how to sign no – it’s helpful in redirecting a child and giving them a little control over their own environment too!

Teaching Tips: Play a little game of yes and no. Say, “Do you like _________?” and have your child sign yes or no. Start with easy items – like favorite foods to elicit a yes and least favorite foods to elicit a no. You make this as silly as you want to! Signing with babies and toddlers is a good way to support safe choices. If you have to remove a child from an unsafe space or activity (such as the edge of the stairs or an outlet), gently redirect them while signing, “No”. Follow up with an explanation, “That’s not safe”.

Signing Time Baby Sign Language as seen on NIckJr.
Emmy Nominated Signing Time Baby Sign Language
Signing Time Baby Sign Language as seen on Public Television
Signing Time Baby Sign Language as seen Parenting