You may have heard some time ago that teaching babies and young (still developing, that is to say) children ASL (American Sign Language) is a good idea, and you would be correct. It is a very good way for you to teach them the alphabet as well as increase their own communication and verbal motor skills before they have truly developed the means to speak.
In recent developments, researchers have found out that it is not only beneficial to young children and babies, as it has a much more widespread positive effect on people of all ages.
1. ASL Improves Spelling
This is especially true when taught from a young age. When young children learn the alphabet at the same time as ASL sign language, it has been proven that their spelling and verbal skills improve. When a young child makes a sign, it gives them a mental as well as a physical image of whatever word they are trying to sign (or speak) which imprints it in both the actual word as well as the ASL sign. This means that they remember certain words better and develop the tools to use them logically as well as communicate with them much earlier.
2. It Improves Classroom Behavior
A good deal of teachers today that have taught or at least incorporated ASL (American Sign Language) into their classrooms have seen a significant increase in classroom activity, participation, and classroom obedience. One good example of this that shows just how well it can work sometimes would be simple interruptions during a lecture. For instance, in my case, I would raise my hand during class if I needed to use the bathroom, which would mean that my peers and teachers would have to stop what they were doing to answer me and look at me.
However, if I could simply stand up and walk to the door and give one hand gesture as opposed to interrupting my teachers thought, it would be a lot better, and at the same time reduce the number of times the class is distracted. It would also not break the teacher’s concentration and focus.
3. Improves Motor Skills
ASL (American Sign Language) can improve motor skills a lot when taught to young children. This is primarily because of how motor skills develop in babies. If a baby wants to communicate something and uses an ASL sign or two to describe whatever it is that they need, they are using their hands to perform a complex series of gestures. These gestures are intricate and are not designed to be easy because they need to make sense. Therefore, teaching ASL to children directly enhances and improves motor skills because of the ability required to perform the signs.