Signing is a highly engaging activity that children and parents, teachers and caregivers love to engage in together. There are some key factors, that are age specific, to keep in mind when incorporating sign language into the lives of hearing babies, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary age children. Here are some helpful hints by age group to help you.
Tips on Signing with Babies and Toddlers
- Begin with just a few signs like more, eat, all done.
- Have their attention.
- Sign consistently and enunciate the word clearly every time you use them.
- Use the signs and words at special times where you can gain the most amount of their attention, ie: meal, bath times, when singing songs or when reading a book.
- Sign correctly even if your child makes a version of the sign that you understand. You do not have to force them to sign correctly, but it is best if you do.
- Keep the activity fun, playful and interactive with you young child.
- Choose additional signs that are of interest to your child (bird, dog, mom, dad, etc.).
- Keep the activity fun, playful and interactive with your young child.
Signing with Toddlers, and Preschoolers
- You can begin at any time because all children find signing to be fun and interesting.
- Choose words that help your child express themselves. Feeling words and words (happy, sad) for wants and needs (hungry, hurt, thirsty) will aid communication.
- Learn some of the signs for the stories, rhymes, activities songs that you and your child love to do together.
- Keep in mind that you do not have to sign every word. You can choose to leave out signs until your child masters the songs and beginning signs. Add more as you go along.
- Keep the activity fun, do not force participation or sign accuracy. Interaction, playfulness and movement along with the songs will provide the learning activity you are seeking to provide.
- Incorporate signs that you have been teaching into every day conversation.
Tips on Signing with Elementary Age Children
- Elementary children find signing activities to be fun and challenging.
- Choose songs that are of interest to you and your children. Choices can be made based on the following criteria:
- Using sign and song to support the learning of core curriculum - ABC's, Numbers, Colors, Animals, Rhymes, etc.
- Songs that fit themes - seasonal, patriotic and more.
- Songs that great classic folk song and will foster musical appreciation.
- Rhymes that encourage reading readiness.
- Song that are just simply fun and playful.
- Learn to sing and sign the song before teaching words to your children. We Sign DVD's will support this.
- Teach it slowly to the children first.
- Sing and sign the song slowly together
- Watch and sing and sign-along with the DVD.
- Incorporate signing and the words being used into everyday activities.
- Keep the activity fun and playfull.
We Sign Objectives
- We Sign's goals are to provide children, parents, teachers and caregivers:
- With a way to improve and enhance early communication skills between parents and children.
- A music and movement activity that is fun and playful.
- With an activity that provides many wonderful, research supported, benefits to children and their parents.
- With a learning rich activity that involves a wide variety of learning styles (physical, visual, verbal, etc.)
- A playful way to learn educational basics, ABC's, Numbers, Colors, Rhymes, Animals and more.
- With a fun bonding activity for parents, grandparents, teachers and caregivers.
- With an activity that develops fine and gross motor skills along with
- With an activity that fosters memory and recall enhancement.
- That will create awareness in families and in our community about American Sign Language, the fourth most commonly used language in the U.S.
- With an interesting approach to learning new and traditional children's songs.
Instructor or Signing Skills
The We Sign Program's requires no knowledge of sign language to be successful. Studies have shown that children benefit equally from instructors who are fluent in signing or have had no previous experience but have the desire to incorporate its movement into a child's life.
Here are the We Sign qualifications that will help you to be successful:
- Have the desire to provide a fun, playful interactive program for children.
- Prepare yourself in advance by learning the songs and signs you wish to introduce.
- Instruct and lead with joy and enthusiasm.
- Positively and enthusiastically support the efforts of your children.
- Creatively add the signed words into daily activities.
- Understand you do not need to be a trained vocalist to lead a group sing.
By using our videos you can learn to sing the songs and sign the words before you begin leading your program. It only takes minutes to learn to sing and sign a song. Keep in mind that this program is not teaching ASL as a language but rather using its movement and visual nature to enhance learning.
We Sign has chosen a video / DVD / TV medium for its products because sign language and its movements are very visual and we felt it offered everyone the best opportunity for learning and making use of this wonderful opportunity. We Sign encourages everyone to participate with their videos, to become energized and not mesmerized, and follow along with the signs and songs. We Sign believes that active parental / teacher involvement in the viewing of the videos as well as in sing and sign along activities will enhance the learning process and take the experiences well beyond the viewing of the program on TV.
Be Playful and Encouraging
When using the We Sign program keep in mind that this movement and singing activity should always remain fun and playful. We want to ensure that children will not only learn but will enjoy their Fun Time experience. Always be positive and supportive of the activity. Encourage them to sign correctly but never force or coerce. Praise and reward them whether or not their signing was correct. With repeated participation of this fun activity, signing accuracy will come.
We want to encourage everyone, children and adults alike, to be creative in the use of the signs that they learn. Try to incorporate words learned into daily life, use the signs whenever you say the word or an opportunity to use a sign presents itself. For example, you can sign the word cat or dog when you see one at home or outside or you can sign them when your are reading about them in a book. The same holds true for all the words you will learn in the songs on the Fun Time video.
We also want you to be creative with the songs that you learn. Many of the songs lend themselves to being re-written to fit you and your child's interests. For example, once you have learned a song like A Really Good Treat, you can substitute other food words (ie: bananas or pears) for food words found in the song. If the song lends itself to actions, even if you don't know the sign, let the children move and act as they wish. You can find other words on our We Sign videos, in ASL dictionaries or other books and at on line resources.
Accuracy & Vocal Abilities vs. Playful Interaction
We Sign Program's goal is to provide parents, teachers and caregivers with fun music and movement activities for children. We want to ensure that children will not only learn but will enjoy their experience at school, in the community or at home. We encourage participation and interaction in a playful manner. Terrific voices and perfect signs are not needed or required. We suggest that adults always use the correct sign and if a child is having a problem, then gently and lovingly help them to form the word. Encourage children to sign correctly but never force or coerce. Praise and reward all children whether or not their signing was correct. Always choose playful interaction over accuracy and vocal abilities.
Importance of parental / teacher involvement
Parent, teacher, caregiver involvement is an important component to the We Sign Program. It provides the basis for continued use and reinforcement of sign and songs at home. Inclusion ensures that a positive message to children that learning can be fun and that they can be empowered with the use of language. Providing parents with continued information of the benefits of signing with their children is as important as teaching the children. Parents need to come to understand how wonderful signing is for establishing a child's readiness to enter school. Though We Sign videos are wonderful for children to watch on their own, increased benefits available to young children with parental involvement.
TV as a Learning medium