Sign Language for Kids

I wrote a post on baby sign language in December 2008, ten months after we brought Ethan home from Korea. Teaching some basic signs to Ethan, and now Sarah, has been one of the best things we’ve done with the kids!

Within our first few months with Ethan, we taught him some basic words. But once Ethan began talking, we didn’t sign as much. After we brought Sarah home, though, all of us picked it up back up, and we have learned even more (40+ signs).

Signing with the kids has been fun. More than that, though, it has been a huge help in communicating with the kids. We remember once when travelling with Ethan in the car when he was a baby, instead of crying because he was hungry, he signed the word “more” (which he normally used when he wanted more food while we were eating). Now, Sarah does the same. She may sign “cold,” “eat,” or “milk,” rather than cry. There’s still crying and whining, of course, but not as much as she would otherwise!

Last Christmas, Ethan (3.5 at the time) and I attended a Ministerium lunch gathering. While we waited for our food to arrive, we practiced signing—that was much better than chasing him all over the room and keeping him out of the Christmas decorations (I did some of that, too)!

But even though we’ve used sign language, we could be more intentional with it. We’ve always known there were benefits to early sign language use/development, but after doing a little research, I want to do more!

Signing Time looks like it has some good products, including items for infants, toddlers, and young children.

Finally, here’s a news story (with short videos) worth checking out that have run in the last few days on using sign language with young children: Sign language can help boost a baby’s brain development.

As these reports (and others) point out, sign language is not only good for communication and fun, it also helps with a child’s long term mental and emotional development (and I’d argue that “emotional quotient” and “adversity quotient” are more important than “intelligence quotient,” but that’s for another post!).

If you’ve used sign language with your children, please tell us about your experiences in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Sign Language for Kids”

  1. We started sign language with our son when he was about eleven months old after we brought him home from Vietnam when he was almost ten months old. We started with a video we found on Netflix: My Baby can Talk-First Signs. We later also tried the Sharing Signs video in the same series. Our son loves the First Signs video to this day and he is almost three. Occasionally he will ask to see it and we try to remember to continue to use signs though he talks up a storm these days. I do believe the signs have been very beneficial to his language development; it certainly made things easier in the early days! It also has the added benefit of helping him calm down when he is worked up. The peaceful classical music is very relaxing. Now when he hears some pieces of music, he will say it is from his signs video. Pretty neat connections to make! Here’s a link to the website:

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience (and the link), Lisa!

    You raise a good point — the music. We’ve done most of our sign language development on our own (with books and websites), but I think the music/songs would be good — both Ethan and Sarah love music!

    In recent days, we’ve learned new signs just by watching some of the previews from the Signing Time website.


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