Showing posts with label ASL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ASL. Show all posts

August 5, 2012

Part 3: Teaching American Sign Language to Your Kids

American Sign Language (ASL) has been a part of our lives since our second son was born with a severe hearing loss associated with Pfeiffer Syndrome in 2006. As I think about all he's had to overcome in his young life...8 surgeries, deafness, teasing and bullying from others along with a long list of other things...I am reminded of how blessed we are that our family communicates so well thanks to learning sign language. If it weren't for that, our son would not have been able access spoken language as well as he has. Our family would have had a difficult time communicating with him before he turned 4 1/2 when he received an implanted hearing aid. I can't imagine where we'd all be if we hadn't started learning and using sign language right after the birth of our sweet boy.

If it weren't for ASL, communicating with him during the Summer months when we spend so much time in the water and he can't wear his hearing aid, would be so difficult. ASL is how we communicate early in the morning, at bedtime and in the middle of the night when he's scared and not wearing his aids. Often we also sign while we're speaking as it adds emphasis and understanding. We sign when we're in larger crowds and it's loud. And we sign when we need to be very quiet at the library. We sign when we're STRONGLY trying to get a point across or when feelings are hurt and it's just too hard to get the words out. We sign while reading books and spelling words. We add ASL into the natural rhythms of our days, not just because we rely on this language, but because it has literally changed the way we communicate together as a family...for the better.

Notice, we started out signing because our son has a hearing loss. But, all of my boys including myself and my husband have benefited by learning and applying ASL daily. This is a language for anyone and everyone. In most states it is considered a second language and I am so thankful.

Last week we participated in a week long Vacation Bible School nearby. I spent the week helping out in the nursery with my youngest by my side. I was delighted to see one father signing with his 1 year old son. Although his son wasn't talking yet, he wasn't hard of hearing , but it was quite obvious that this little boy understood his dad's signs and even signed back to him. It was amazing to see.

There was also a youth helper in the nursery with me who watched me signing with my two year old as we read a book together. She inquired about my use of ASL and I told her that our 6 year old is hard of hearing and that ASL and spoken English complete a whole language for him. She was so excited to meet him as she had taken ASL in school and learned it from a friend of hers who was deaf. So, when I introduced my son to her, there was an instant connection in that moment.

You just never know when or why you might have the opportunity or reason to sign with someone and make real communication connections.

Join me as I share my third and final post in the series: Teaching American Sign Language to Your Kids over at The Homeschool Classroom. 

And as always, you can find these posts along with all of our ASL learning resources on our Sign Language page. 

June 7, 2012

Teaching You Kids American Sign Language

Part 2 of my of my series on teaching your kids American Sign Language just posted over at The Homeschool Classroom. This is a series that has been on my heart to write for quite some time. And I am honored to be able to share it with you all as it has benefited our family in so many ways and continues to every day.

You'll find  Part 1: Teaching American Sign Language to Children and Part 2: Teaching American Sign Language: 5 Fun Activities  at the Homeschool Classrom, with the third and final part in this series posting sometime in July. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions or need additional resources...I love to share!

To read more about our signing adventures and how to begin signing with your kids, click the picture below.

ASL, teach kids ASL

Linking up with The Better Mom

June 3, 2012

The Many Benefits of American Sign Language

Have you ever wondered about the benefits of learning American Sign Language and teaching it to your children? It is a real language used by millions of deaf and hard of hearing Americans and their family members, interpreters and educators. And educationally speaking, it is considered a foreign or second language by most schools and universities across the country.

ASL is a language that can benefit (and help) all people of all abilities. According to Signing Time (and many other well known sources), the benefits of learning ASL are many, even for those who aren't necessarily deaf or hard of hearing. As a family with four sons, one of whom is severely hard of hearing and three others who are hearing...we know these benefits to be true on many levels. 

Benefits of signing with babies and toddlers:

Children have the capacity to understand, learn and communicate before they develop the ability to speak.  Babies can begin signing around 6-14 months which is generally before they develop the ability to speak clearly. Even when children begin to speak it is not always clear.  Signing provides a second way to get the information from them. "Ba-Ba" - do they mean ball or bottle or something else? Signing also reduces tantrums and frustration.

Benefits of signing with children who can hear:

Research suggests that signing with hearing children can...

  • Improve confidence and self esteem  
  • Support spelling skills
  • Improve reading skills
  • Encourage an interest in books and 
  • Can even improve IQ scores

Benefits of signing with children with special needs:
  • Signing can have miraculous results with children who have speech and communication challenges. Sign can be an amazing tool for children with Down Syndrome, Autism, Apraxia of Speech, speech delays, hearing loss and deafness, etc.
  • Signing can be the only way for them to communicate and may encourage verbal communication.  Read Rachel Coleman's story, the founder of Signing Time, to learn how American Sign Language has impacted her family. You can also read Our Story of how ASL has impacted our families communication for the better.
  • Kids who currently don't have special needs but may in the future - limited communication due to hospitalization, trach tubes, surgery, etc. 

Other general benefits:
  • Wonderful bonding - this is face-to-face communication. You must look at each other to use signs! 
  • Having an alternate way of expressing themselves can help a child who may not be comfortable verbalizing something they want to say, such as when they are upset or embarrassed. 
  • Children learn in different ways. Some learn by hearing, some by seeing, some by doing it with their own hands. Tactile and kinesthetic learners may thrive when sign language is introduced to their learning environment. 
  • The physical component of signing can make learning feel like play. Children naturally use their body language to communicate. 
  • Helps with temper tantrums, especially those tantrums that stem from not being understood. 
  • Older children love to use signs as a 'secret language' or as a second language. 
  • Older children who sign are more likely to befriend a child who signs for any reason and have increased confidence in their ability to learn ASL as a second language.
This list was compiles by Signing Time. 

May 23, 2012

3 Part Series on Teaching Your Kids American Sign Language

Many of you already know why we began using American Sign Language (ASL) in our family, but did you also know that teaching your children ASL can help improve their reading and spelling skills, encourage an interest in books and even improve their confidence and self esteem? THIS is true for all children, whether they hear well or not. We experience all of these benefits daily and it is why we continue to learn ASL.

Did you also know that, from an educational standpoint, ASL qualifies as a foreign language in most states?

To read more about how you can make learning and teaching ASL to your kids a very natural and fun thing to incorporate into your days, come read my post over at The Homeschool Classroom. This is the first in a three part series on the subject. 

And, just in case you're wondering....YES, all of these ideas can be applied whether you homeschool or not.

Our American Sign Language Journey

Our journey and passion for ASL began six years ago after our second son, "C" was born. We knew right away that there were health issues and that the road ahead would include many surgeries and time spent at our Children's Hospital. What we didn't realize was that our way of life would be forever changed and that communication as we knew it would be redefined...all for the better!

Once we learned that "C" had a severe hearing loss, we were quickly put in touch with early intervention services through the Parent Infant Program at the Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center in Seattle. Our very first home visit was with a woman named Dorothy. She was the one who not only introduced us to our very first Baby Signing Time DVD, but also became our friend as she taught our whole family ASL each week over the next two and a half years. We'll never forget that first hopeful we felt that our son would be able to communicate with us and communicate well. Little did we know then how much our whole family would actually benefit from learning sign language.

In between visits with Dorothy, the boys asked to watch Baby Signing Time and then later, Signing Time (geared more for preschool aged children and up) on a daily basis. We were hooked! The teaching format was so fun and the songs, so upbeat and easy to remember....we couldn't help but learn and devour each new sign being taught. These DVDs have proven to be an invaluable resource to us.

When "C" turned two, he started speech therapy with Lauren...another person who lovingly and patiently worked with him to further his communication skills. We were so thankful for all of the "tools" we learned from her, as family communication is so important to us. Her sensitivity toward "C's" use of ASL and her use of the language as well really helped him to grasp speech.

Around the age of two and a half, we were blessed again with another friend who, for the next 9 months, came to our home weekly to continue teaching us ASL. We were truly challenged to begin using our signs conversationally as Karen is deaf. She came with an interpreter the first time she visited. But after that, we realized we didn't need one and it was wonderful for all of us to be able to communicate together.
Learning and using ASL has been an incredible journey for all of us. Today, "C" is bilingual, using ASL and spoken English to communicate. We have no doubt that it was ASL that helped him to access the English language and understand concepts, therefore leading him to be able to speak as well as he does.

Our hearing children have benefited greatly in other ways from learning ASL too. Communicating with signs instead of spoken words is sometimes easier when you're frustrated, hurt, angry or embarrassed. And when they're excited about something...we often see them using their signs to further "illustrate" their feelings. Before they could talk, signing helped us to understand the things they wanted...such as "milk", "hungry", "thirsty", "crackers" and "hurt". And now, we are realizing just how much ASL is helping them learn how to read. It's amazing!

January 17, 2012

American Sign Languauage BINGO


I love taking games we already have or fun ones we find online and turning them into games that also include learning sign language. Here is a very simple one! BINGO! We already have an alphabet version, but you could easily make your own or find templates online to print. I played this with my 3, 5 and 7 year old boys a few days ago. We've played this in the past and it was slightly boring for them...but adding the ASL element really made it MUCH more fun (and educational).

So, here's how you play. To start, I signed the letters as I called them out. They know their ASL alphabet well. Our 3 year old is still this was great practice for him. Then after a while I switched to signing words that I know they know that start with whatever letter I'm calling out. For our 3 year old, I wrote the letters for him to work on letter recognition, then I told him what word I was signing and he had to tell me what letter I had both written and sign the word I had signed. So for him, he learned a new sign if he didn't know it and also was able to recognize his letters. Then we changed it up a bit and they had to sign the letters back to me that I was calling out and each come up with a word that begins with that letter. If they knew the sign for that word, they'd sign it. If not, we'd learn it.We keep this game very flexible so no one gets frustrated when they don't know the signs.

If you're just getting started with ASL, beginning with just the ASL alphabet is perfect. Then you can begin to add words that begin with that letter and even teach/learn those words very easily. If you don't know the ASL sign for a certain word, you can look them up online at any online ASL dictionary. I like If you scroll down a bit, you'll see their dictionary section. You can also find many kid friendly ASL dictionary's at the library.

This was a big hit for our boys and a great way to play a game that was both challenging for the older ones, yet age appropriate for the youngest.
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