Sign language belongs to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, but even hearing children can benefit from learning it. Since kids pick up languages the best at a young age, it’s a great idea for parents to learn how to teach sign language to preschoolers as soon as possible.
The great news is that even if you’ve never signed before or if you’ve never met a deaf person, you can still teach sign language to your preschooler! With the following tips, you and your child will be signing together in no time. 🙂
How to Teach Sign Language to Preschoolers
Learn with them.
The wonderful thing about teaching preschoolers, especially your own, is that you have the opportunity to learn with them. You don’t have to know how to sign before you start teaching your child. Instead, the two of you can “discover” sign language together!
Start slowly by learning how to sign the alphabet and numbers in American Sign Language. You might also want to learn basic words that your child uses around the house on a regular basis, such as “drink“, “eat”, “bathroom”, “home”, and “sleep”. It’s also a good idea to learn ASL family words, such as “Mama” and “Daddy”. This will give your child a chance to practice often.
No matter how many sign language words kids learn, they’ll forget them all if they don’t use them. Set aside a regular “signing time” – no more than a couple of minutes – when you and your preschooler will sign and NOT speak. Keep these times light and fun and don’t put any pressure on your child to remember the signs. They’ll naturally pick them up as they use them.
Another way to help your kids sign regularly is to get them involved in the deaf community in your area. Call the nearest deaf school and ask if there are any opportunities for you and your child to volunteer or attend a function. Seeing deaf kids signing is a wonderful incentive for hearing children to learn their language! With a little practice, your child may even be able to introduce himself in sign language!
Make signing fun!
The best way to help your child learn to sign is to keep your lessons fun. Preschoolers are naturally active and energetic, so make sure that you and your child are having fun as you learn!
Sign language flashcards are an excellent way to learn ASL, because you can make them into simple matching games or quizzes. You might also consider using some short ASL video lessons that won’t force your child to sit for a long period of time.
If you make sign language into a learning experience for both of you and keep your regular lessons fun, your preschooler will learn to sign and love it!
Selena Robinson is a writer and a homeschooling mother of four. She and her family are volunteers in the deaf community. Selena blogs about her family’s learning adventures at Look! We’re Learning! You can keep up with Selena by subscribing to the Look! We’re Learning! newsletter or by following her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, or YouTube.