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Signing With Babies And Children: Sign Language Can Help Children Learn to Read

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sign Language Can Help Children Learn to Read

Teaching your baby sign language will actually improve his/her ability to learn to read.
Reading is a complex process that requires the reader’s brain to develop a multitude of neural pathways. The more developed those pathways, the greater the chances the reader will be able to automatize the act of reading. As the many pathways become fully developed, the reader becomes a fluent reader, and comprehension is possible.
A reader has to transfer the visual information of print into phonological information that is familiar to him from the auditory language that he hears daily in order to make meaning out of the print that he is processing. But a reader who has learned sign language, which is spatially visual, has the advantage of having developed neural pathways that connect the visual with language, or meaning. In other words, the baby who has learned sign language has a jumpstart on his ability to transfer visual information into meaningful linguistic information, relevant and critical to reading. He already understands that language or visual symbols convey meaning.
A child whose only exposure to language is auditory begins his development of the neural pathways at a much later age. The child who only knows auditory language must learn to take visual information (print) and make those visual symbols meaningful.


Shay V. said...
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Shay V. said...

Like you said, Etel, children thrive when they know what to expect! That is why routines and schedules are so important. Reading together gives children the opportunity to control their own environment by turning pages and learning to recognize that words are read from left to right. Repetition helps them to learn the signs and to recognize words that they use every day. Reading and signing with a parent or sibling is not only a wonderful way to form bonds but a great way to plant memories that will last a lifetime and are passed down through generations. Board books with pictures of babies and animals work well for infant and toddlers. Finding books that rhyme, are predictable or present a pattern are good examples as well, and authors like Eric Carle and Dr. Suess are perfect for preschoolers and older children. My kids love “Chica Chica Boom Boom” and “Are you my mother?”17