Are you planning on learning American Sign Language (ASL) just until your child outgrows their toddler stage? Did you know that using ASL beyond that age could be transformative for your child? There’s so many benefits to a child being raised in a multilingual home. The advantages that follow could also greatly benefit your child later in life. In fact, read on and you might end up changing your mind and going with ASL all the way!
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There is a massive potential for accelerated learning with sign language at a child’s disposal. ASL creates a path for more creative ways of learning and receptiveness, allowing a child to flourish in a much faster way than other children (Educational Playcare, 2016). A visual approach reinforces their language acquisition. Additionally, having early access to a language, which occurs when you use ASL before verbal communication fully forms, significantly matures a child’s ability to process and communicate their thoughts and emotions.
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The early stages of a child’s life, just as they begin to babble and mimic language, may not always allow them the chance to form the right words with their mouths. They may be able to think of it, and see it in their head, but they may not be able to fully say what they mean to say.
Now if this child was also learning ASL, they’d have more options to find the appropriate way to communicate what they're thinking. A child with access to another language like ASL is more likely to have a greater success rate when trying to get their point across because they’re thinking about what they want to say with their hands instead of immediately saying what they want to say with their mouths.
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Communication is key, and that is true for children and adults alike. Children usually have a hard time communicating what they feel because they’re still learning how to express themselves. Children learning to communicate their emotions decreases the chances of miscommunication. Tantrums will always occur as expected, but in that moment, it is shown that with sign language, those children can make their needs and wants far more understandable than trying to use their voice to talk.
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A parent that’s learning a new language with or for their child will likely form a closer connection with them. You’re both trying to communicate with each other using something new and foreign, so the bonding experience gained by pursuing stronger skills creates a nurturing environment for that child. Plus, continuing to learn ASL and using it to communicate will create special memories and inside jokes that you’ll cherish forever.
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Memory is a big deal and it’s incredibly important when young minds are developing. Your child is in the stage where they’re learning about the alphabet, shapes, and animals. To forget all of that would be counterproductive. With a child that learns ASL, they’re given a greater opportunity to remember things like shapes and colors a lot better since ASL is a visible language. Flashcards are a great way to practice this!
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A child that communicates in ASL is given the chance to learn words faster and the more words they know, the bigger the vernacular they’ll have in their repertoire. This fuels the child to be more knowledgeable about the things they want and why they want them. This also makes a road for clear communication between the child and parent.
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Reading is fundamental, and a child who communicates in ASL should be visually stimulated by new words they can learn to sign. It’s quite a fun experience for the child and parents if they read together and is also beneficial when the child decides to read on their own.
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When a child is continually learning a second language they rake in neurological benefits that can greatly help their academic learning and personal growth development (Farhan, 2019). Two languages create the ability for a child to think differently about how they approach school assignments and tests. This allows the child to explore other avenues of learning if they choose to do so later on in life.
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Why stop at knowing two languages? Once you’ve nailed the foundations of two as a child, you’re able to look at other languages and pick them up a lot faster. Depending on when your child starts to learn ASL they may end up knowing more than even two languages if time permits them to. Perfect for parents who want to instill in their child an adaptivity and curiosity about the world.