We Sign - Frequently Asked Questions
Over the 15 years we have been providing signing video's to parents, teachers and caregivers, we have been asked many questions about signing with hearing children. The following are the most often questions asked about the use of American Sign Language, ASL, with hearing babies, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary children.
Q. Are these DVD for children to watch?
A.Yes but adult involvement is very important. The series was designed to help parents, teachers and caregivers bring the benefits of interactive signing activities into the lives of children. We provided the information that adults would need to know to use sign correctly with children. We still feel strongly that adult involvement in the signing process in key but children do find watching Fun Time and Play Time to be great fun. We have also provided We Sign Kids tracks for children to follow along and sign songs on ABC, Numbers, Colors, Rhymes, Animals and Classroom Favorites.
Q. Do I need to sign all the signs demonstrated?
A.No! We have provided you with lots of signing options. You can choose to sign as many or as few of the signs as you want to use with your children. The number of signs chosen are based on 1) your comfort level and 2) age appropriateness, that is, simple and fewer signs for young children becoming more complex with age and proficiency.
Q. Are the We Sign DVDs and videos for Hearing Children?
A.We Sign was developed for hearing children to use American Sign Language, ASL, and its movement and visual nature to foster early communication, build vocabulary, enhance language skills and improve the learning of many basic educational concepts like ABC's, Numbers, Colors, Animals, and Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. Hearing children benefit from signing with songs because they use a variety of the multiple learning styles when participating in these activities. When children sign they see words visually, they feel the through the movement of their hands and arms, the experience emotion in facial expression and they hear the words as they are spoken at the same time. Then when songs are added, children then learn musically. All this combined provide hearing toddlers and preschoolers with the ability to have twice the usable vocabulary upon entering school. Thus, signing and singing provide hearing children with a real "Jump Start on Smart" by building strong foundations for reading readiness.
Q. Do the We Sign DVDs and videos feature American Sign Language (ASL)?
A. Yes, the We Sign series is based on American Sign Language, ASL. We feature signing instruction and instructors who will demonstrate ASL signs used in the songs. We embrace ASL because it is the 3rd most common language in the United States and as such is a structured language used consistently across the country. We Sign features ASL vocabulary and its movement oriented and visual nature to provide children with a fun, playful, and interactive multiple learning style approach to education.
Q.Does learning sign language interfere with a child developing verbal skills?
A.No and in fact studies and research have shown that signing enhances verbal skills. Children who sign are shown to have up to twice the usable vocabulary upon entering school than non-signing children. Signing gives children many more words to communicate thoughts, needs, wishes, desires and to get many more responses from those around them. It fosters communication, even before a child can speak, develops language skills, increases vocabulary, encourages parent/child and teacher/child bonding and verbally, and creates a real enthusiasm for learning.
Q.When should I begin using signs with my child(ren)?
A.You can begin signing with children at any age. Signing and its benefits for hearing children does not have to stop when your baby begins to talk. You can begin with babies as young as 6 months but it will be between 9 and 14 months before you will begin to see them sign. We suggest being consistent and beginning with just a few signs that you use in your daily activities. Signs dealing with wants and needs, like eat, more and all done, are the most popular. As your baby begins to respond to signs and sign back to you, increase the signed vocabulary to include a variety of signs. We Sign Babies & Toddlers helps you to sign with babies.
Parents can begin signing with toddlers even if they did not sign with them as babies. Keep in mind that the use of sign with toddlers is very different from babies. Vocabulary for this age group is expanding rapidly and signing can greatly enhance this development. Parents also have new issues that signing can help them with. Tantrums can be minimized through behavior shaping and feeling signs like stop, gentle and sad. Toddlers can deal with learning many more signs and use them effectively. We Babies & Toddlers, Play Time and Fun Time help you to use and expand signing
Preschoolers love to sign, find it fun and interesting, and quickly expand their signing vocabulary. When teachers and parents add signing and signed activities, like songs, into preschool children's daily life they find that it helps to not only increase learning but it also helps to foster a real enthusiasm for learning. Signing is fun, challenging and encourages them to learn using a variety of Multiple Intelligences. With all the demands on early childhood learning signing offers children a proven way to learn and remember vocabulary and many other educational basics. Along with We Sign fun time, these additional titles support learning through songs and signs: ABC's, Numbers, Colors, Animals, Rhymes, Classroom Favorites and More Animals.
Older children, students and adults enjoy signing and singing some of the great classic songs that are incorporated into the We Sign Series. Additionally, everyone will learn lots of ASL vocabulary by participating with We Sign Patriotic Songs (classic patriotic songs), Christmas Carols and Hymns (religious Christmas songs) and Santa's Favorite Songs (ageless holiday and Santa songs).
Q.What benefits do hearing children get from signing?
A.Research studies for years have demonstrated many benefits that hearing children receive from signing. It has bee shown that signing will increase vocabulary, improve language skills, enhance motor skills, stimulate brain development, encourage memory and recall, increase IQ scores, and foster parent and child bonding and communication. Signing provides children with greater language and vocabulary skills that provide them with a foundation for reading upon entering school. By engaging children in a playful activity that uses a variety of the multiple learning styles, singing and signing is effective at teaching information and stimulating memory and recall.
Q.Do I have to be fluent or know a lot about American Sign Language to be successful signing with my child?
A.You don't need to know any sign language to begin signing with your child. Marilyn Daniels in her book Dancing with Words reports that a child benefits from the use of sign about the same from both teachers who know very little sign to signing professionals. We Sign DVDs and videos provide songs that have the signs clearly demonstrated so that in just a few minutes you can learn to sing and sign along. We Sign also provides, on most of its titles, a signing instructor that can teach you the signs before you begin signing with your child. Success is generated by using signs in activities and then incorporating those signs into your daily lives and conversations.
Q.Is this just another series of videos to plug children into and turn them into couch potatoes?
A. The We Sign series is designed for active involvement and participation. Our goal is for children to not only watch the videos but to also move and sing along to our collection of new and traditional songs. We encourage parents, teachers and other caregivers to learn to sing and sign the songs so they can interact with children, anytime and anywhere, in a fun playful way. We provide instruction that enables adults to learn to sign and sing songs that can be participated in without turning on a TV. We Sign seeks to break with television's tradition of mesmerizing everyone into being “couch potatoes”. We Sign seeks to turn "viewers into doers" and to energize children into participating with our fun and playful activities.
Q. What types of songs will the children learn and can they actually sign along?
A. The We Sign series exposes children to many well known traditional songs and Nursery Rhymes like: Old MacDonald; Bingo; Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Wheels on the Bus, The ABC Song, Yankee Doodle; The Bear Went Over the Mountain; and Jingle Bells. They will sing and sign-along to other traditional songs that have been re-written to encourage more signing and participation like: Row, Row, Row Your Boat; If You're Happy and You Know It; Train is A-Coming; and There's A Little Song A-Singing In My Heart. We have also assembled a wide variety of wonderful new songs by a variety of children' songwriters including: One Little Bird; The Snowman's Hat; Mixin' All My Colors; One Little Kitty and Jumping. All the songs have been slowed down to allow for children, across different age groups, to be able to sing and sign along.
Q.Why does signing work with children?
A.Movement and play are fundamental to learning for children. Signing encourages learning through movement. We Sign, by combining movement (signing) and songs, provides a fun, playful way for children to learn using a variety of learning styles – Physical, Visual, Oral and Musical. Young children can from as early as 8 months use their hands; the first thing they learn to really control, to communicate with words long before their verbal skills develop. Toddlers and preschoolers use the movement and songs to set to memory lots of vocabulary and basic educational concepts (ABC's, numbers, colors, animals, rhymes and more) just as we did when we learned songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider.
Q.Why should children learn ASL over just general movement or gestures?
A.Gestures and movements are fun and participatory but by learning ASL vocabulary, you are teaching children actual words. These words are part of a real language; in fact, American Sign Language is the third most common language in the United States. ASL is a language that children will be exposed to on television, anywhere in the country and even in their own neighborhoods. It is consistent and understood by millions and learning of ASL vocabulary provides the basis for learning a second language. Gestures and movements don't provide any of this.
Q.Will children with special needs benefit from these videos?
A. It has been reported to us by many different parents, especially children with Downs Syndrome and Autism, that their children have greatly enjoyed learning and playing along to the videos. In the case of Downs, we have been told that it has helped parent child communication and increased their usable vocabulary. We have also been told that the videos have been a great way for family members of deaf children or parents to learn lots of words that can be used for communication.
Q.Is there research supporting the benefits for hearing children from the use of sign language.
A.For over 30 years, a variety of researchers have been studying the benefits that hearing children receive from signing. Marilyn Daniels, more recently, in her book Dancing With Words, outlines a variety of studies, including her own, demonstrating significant benefits to vocabulary and language development, memory and retention skill development, fine and gross motor skill development, brain development and more. There is also centuries of human experience supporting the concept of involving children through, movement, play and music, to support long term learning and knowledge.