Teaching Sign Language to Children Who Are Too Young to Speak
I recently received the following e-mail from a customer who is learning Spanish with our program.
“We have an au pair coming from Madrid in April to help care for our first newborn due then. We intend to raise
our children bilingual in both Spanish and English.”
First, I congratulated him on his good judgment. Then I suggested that he tell his friends that he was using the Angelina Jolie French learning method for teaching his children Spanish.
Hiring foreign au pairs and using foreign-language caregivers is a great way to help your child learn a foreign language. If you are doing that, keep doing it.
However, is there anything you can do that will help the linguistic development of children who are old enough to crawl, but not yet old enough to talk? Probably so.
Sign Language for Toddlers?
Children usually develop skill with the larger muscles used for crawling and walking much sooner than they develop skill with the small muscles used for speaking.
This results in a child who can move around the house under his own power, but who can’t tell you that he’s hungry. It’s a recipe for frustration.
I don’t have children, so I can’t verify that this works, but teaching your pre-verbal children a few signs, like “eat,” “milk,” “more,” and “all done” certainly can’t hurt and might help.
I see the biggest benefit from this approach as reducing frustration of the little child and Mom. And anything that reduces frustration will improve learning of all kinds, including learning a foreign language later.
If you have (or will soon have) a small child, check out these signs to teach a child who can’t yet speak.