Saturday, February 11, 2012

#4 Languages-- Especially Sign Language for Kids

I am nerdy that way, I suppose, because I love languages. I love the structure (it is so logical and formulaic), grammar, nuances (often so poetic and fun--like when you learn that 'happy birthday' in Korean is 'it's your life day, congratulations'), and how language seems like a window to culture (much in the same way food is, I think). I used to enjoy learning phrases and snippets from international friends. I envisioned myself teaching Korean or Spanish to my kiddos so I'd have bilingual or even trilingual kiddos...

that hasn't happened. For a number of reasons. The main two are that 1) Eric and I want to give our kids an edge in language development as it relates to the educational system. Reading and writing are paramount, so we've chosen to focus on English to really develop vocabulary and comprehension. 2) I am more interested in immediate communication with my kids and the delay of multiple tongues just, well, I was/am too impatient for the return. I can't stand the fits and tantrums when communication breaks down and I just want to cross as much territory as quickly as possible to remove the language barrier between me and my children.

Which explains why I've chosen to teach my girls sign language. Rather than delay the communication, it speeds it up. Frustrations subside when I know what they want and can give it to them rather than guessing wrong. Both parties are happier. And it also doesn't hamper vocabulary development (they can sign WHILE saying the English word, so there is really only 1 word to learn. Easier than trying to distinguish between a Spanish and English vocab word). Gwen had a huge vocabulary by 2 years thanks to signing... and Caroline is following in her footsteps.

We started signing with Caroline recently, about a week ago. Today, she started signing "ball". I know, that isn't much, but it has been SOOOOO exciting to see comprehension dawn on her face and to have her COMMUNICATE with us rather than just fuss, whine, and cry. I LOVE languages, but I really LOVE communication the most. And it is wonderfully rewarding to see Caroline witnessing the rewards first hand of using language to communicate (it sure beats the alternatives, I tell you what!) I'm excited for her to start telling me she wants food, drink, bath, bed, mommy, daddy... basically, I'm excited for real communication. And that, my friends, is why I LOVE languages.


  1. Elisa, I'm so glad you posted this because I've been wanting to do this with Halle, but am not sure at what age you start it. She just turned 1. Do you just let them watch the videos and they pick it up?

  2. You and I both! I LOVE sign language with kids, and I love watching them be so capable of communicating early on - especially if they are more interested in moving than in verbal communication. And I love having this as a fun connection between you and I with our little ones. Love it, and love you!