Homeschooler Karen Gibson discusses her hearing grandchild's experience learning American Sign Language (ASL). Toddlers find their inability to communicate extremely frustrating, resulting in the infamous terrible two's temper tantrums. ASL seemes to ease that communication frustration. Not only that, but spoken language skills also improve!

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Whenever I held my newborn baby in my arms,
I used to think that what I said and did to him
Could have an influence not only on him,
But on all whom he met,
not only for a day or a month, or a year,
but for all eternity - A very, very challenging
and exciting thought for a mother.
~ Rose Kennedy

    American Sign Language (ASL) for Hearing Toddlers and Children
    Karen M. Gibson

    Do you worry when your toddler exhibits frustration because she is not speaking yet? Do you watch helplessly as her frustration spirals rapidly into the temper tantrum of all time? Well, help is just a few signs away. Not road signs, but hand signs, as in sign language. American Sign Language (ASL) can be easily learned by toddlers as young as ten months old. And by Grandma's too! Yes, you read that correctly. I have been learning ASL along with my granddaughter (and her Mommy and her Daddy and anyone else that she can get to watch her Signing Time dvds or read her Signing Time books).

    I first learned of the Signing Time program from a visitor at one of my weekly Homeschool Chats. We were talking of our children and grandchildren and I made mention that my granddaughter seemed to be reaching the tantrum stage a bit early. She was only fifteen months at the time, surely a bit young for the terrible twos. One of the other Homeschool Moms mentioned that her toddler had learned sign language through the Signing Time program on PBS (television), which had greatly reduced her temper tantrums. Sign Language? Oh, really?

    So I searched the Internet, found the Signing Time website, read the information and testimonials provided there, and ultimately purchased the Baby Sign dvds for my granddaughter. And then I told my daughter that Grandma was sending Miss Munchkin (my granddaughter) a gift of sign language dvds that should be delivered shortly. "Sign Language?" she asked dubiously. Ah, being a Grandma can be so much fun sometimes!

    But her dubiousness quickly turned to amazement and pleasure as Miss Munchkin immersed herself in sign language. In just a few short weeks, Miss Munchkin was communicating through sign language. And as she began communicating with sign language, the temper tantrums tapered off and then mostly disappeared. Just do not be slow in putting the requested dvd into the player!

    Discover Your Baby with Sign Language
    Learn about Baby Signing Time

    Since Miss Munchkin quickly learned all the signs on the two Baby Sign dvds, Grandma was soon purchasing more Signing Time dvds and books, and then more! Miss Munchkin now has a command of over 90 words in less than three months time. My daughter discusses Miss Muchkin's signing on her blog, Adventures With Miss Munchkin, if you would like to read more about her successes.

    While talking about baby signing with other people, more than one has expressed concern that learning sign language might delay Miss Munchkin's progress with the spoken word. Quite the opposite, though, appears to be happening. One of the very first signs she learned was "car," which she signed and also spoke for the first time (Daddy was so proud!). The same with "shoe." And "Grandma." (I liked that one!)

    I don't often endorse specific products here at and I am sure there are many other equally successful ways to learn ASL. Signing Time products, though, have worked wondrously for Miss Munchkin and I doubt you could find an easier or more enjoyable way for children to learn ASL. The Baby Sign products are designed specifically for ages 3 - 36 months. And the Signing Time products for children age 3 - 11. The songs are catchy enough that adults won't mind listening to the music CDs in the car, although after the fortieth consecutive time they might get a little annoying. Best of all, even Grandma's and Grandpa's can join in the fun, learn a few signs and enjoy communicating more easily with the next generation unschooler! If only Miss Munchkin didn’t think she could sign while talking to Grandma on the telephone!

    Copyright September 2007

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