Reading and Signing (ASL) in the Homeschool Den

It’s obviously most interesting to post about the livelier things we do at the Homeschool Den.  But to be honest, I really enjoy the quieter things we do as well.  We read lots and lots of books together.  I have a wooden napkin holder where I display 3-5 new picture books on the dining room table.  I change this several times a week (as needed).  Whenever we sit together at the dining room table (for snacks, meals) Daddy or I usually read a story or two (or chapter or two).  This year I’ve usually had a chapter book going and also put up a couple story books and/or science/history/theme books.  Often when we’re done eating we transition to the couch and snuggle up together to read.  I made a book display and rotate books at least once a week as well.  I just replenished it last night with lots of Halloween books, ghost stories, and science books about bats, the skeleton and blood.  (I realize lots of people don’t celebrate Halloween, but we enjoy it here. In fact, ED has recently added “witch” and “ghost” to her signing vocabulary.)

To go off on another tangent, I have taught all of our kids sign language (ASL).  LD was an early talker and we never went all that far with his signing (perhaps 20 words or so).  DD learned well over a hundred signs but then also talked fairly early.  ED now knows well over a hundred signs (my last count was 75, but I know she’s learned many, many more since then), but doesn’t show too much interest in talking.  She has only about 6 to 10 spoken words now, but signs away constantly.  In fact, she turns my head with her hand so I’ll pay attention to her signing.  She converses ALL the time about what she sees, what she’s doing, how she feels (happy, sad, surprised, etc.), what the kids are doing, where Daddy is (at work, sleeping or whatever).  She signs about our dog, other kids she sees.  Perhaps our best “conversations” come when we read books together.  She constantly “signs” about what she sees in the books.  But she’s signing all day long.  She’ll tell me what she wants or needs (from food, diaper changes to more “horse rides” or “swinging”).  If you are interested in learning more about ASL (American Sign Language) my top three recommendations would be

1) the Signing Time videos. The are ALL wonderful! She usually watches at least a bit of one each day.
2) Teach Your Tot to Sign and
3) the online sign language dictionary, ASLPRO.

It is extraordinary to have the amazing conversations that I do with ED, especially as she is learning to speak so much later than my other two.  There are some documented benefits to signing with your babies/toddlers. What I find best is getting to know my little one’s interests so well at such an early age!  She is so observant and takes everything in.  She definitely has her favorite activities (painting for one and horse rides on my knees for another!) and she can tell me what she wants and when.  How great!

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2 Responses

  1. I signed with my son when he was an infant and it was one of the best decisions that I've made as a parent. I was constantly amazed by how observant he was. If he signed something, I knew that it was there – I just had to find it. He knew well over 100 signs by 16 months or so. It was such a rich experience for us. I love to hear about others that have been successful with it as well.

  2. Thanks for your comments. You know what's funny? I was talking to our GP about the fact that our daughter isn't 'saying' much (with spoken words). She told me that perhaps I should insist that ED "say" the word before I give her something. For example, if she signed "water" then I should "insist" she say water. I told the doctor that this would result in a child who rolls on the floor in a temper tantrum. "Well," the doctor replied, "if she signed to me I wouldn't know what she wanted. If she were in day care she'd probably learn to use her real words." So her suggestions on helping my daughter to "speak" were day care and not acknowledging her wonderful signing abilities. Yikes. I pretty much ended that conversation as quickly as possible. She (the doctor) obviously hasn't done much research on the benefits of signing.

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