The ASL classroom at this stage of development creates for your ever-increasingly curious child a second environment outside of the home where signing is used, affirming its legitimacy and reinforcing the rich world it builds.
Now sign language can help with pre-literacy skills. All that work they’ve put in connecting a symbol to a concept is a jumpstart toward learning letters. In fact, some studies have shown that children who take up ASL early have better vocabulary and reading skills later on, even higher IQ scores. The manual alphabet (the ASL alphabet) provides a new learner with added modes of taking in information. Some people are visual learners, covered. Some kids learn best by doing something with their hands, got it. What if your child’s learning style leans more toward tactile or kinesthetic? The ABCs formed with the hands can support those preferences, too.
You can employ sign to assist you and your child during the emotional ups and downs of potty training. Communicating with signs related to using the potty can be something familiar and reassuring to lean on, not to mention the help it provides in not having to shout across a public space to ask if they have to go.
That advantage of being able to sign rather than shout also goes beyond trying to potty train. Signing can work well in a loud environment or when you just can’t bring yourself to speak a warning one more time – when “Don’t X!” Or “No Xing!” have worn out their use, the silent sign with a stern face gives you one more way to get your message across.
If someone in your family were temporarily unable to speak, such as during a hospital stay, for example, you would have another mode of communication at your disposal.
As you can see, the benefits of signing for hearing kids continue well beyond the age of 3. The Signing Time materials, for example, are marked as appropriate for up to age 8. I can attest to exactly this, as my 8-year-old loves to watch the videos alongside his little brother. More and more ASL is becoming an option for students in high school or college looking to fulfill their language requirement.
American Sign Language is a whole and complex language, different from the hearing child’s native language and culture. Learning more than one language expands the brain’s capabilities, literally, on a physical level. Learning more than one language increases the number of amazing individuals you will be able to connect with, which I can only guess might just expand the brain even further. It’s a win-win all around.