Signing Smart & Speech Development

Signing Smart and Speech Development

Will signing delay my child's speaking?
I've heard that signing advances development, is this true?
My child is talking, should I bother to start or to continue signing?

(Top)  Will signing delay my child's speaking?
While this is the most common concern we hear about using signs with young children, there is nothing to worry about! Barring other developmental issues, believe us when we say that there is no way to stop your child from talking! But until your child does, or while she is getting better at it, signing with a program such as Signing Smart will foster communication many months before the equivalent interactions can happen through spoken words.

Why? Signing Smart is about giving parents easy-to-use tools to enrich what they are already doing. We teach parents how to use select signs to sprinkle in visual information about concepts and ideas. We also teach them how to integrate Signing Smart strategies that will make the process simple and that will allow children to initiate communication, and to tell parents their thoughts, needs, and worries. When learning and using signs is fun and easy, parents are able to engage children in meaningful interactions -interactions in which children are showered with words about topics of interest to them. Signing in these ways increases children's vocabulary, develops their memory, and advances their conceptual understanding.

Research has shown that early signers are often also early talkers. National studies of Signing Smart children in particular show that they are markedly ahead of language development norms. For example, at 12 months, Signing Smart children have an average of 25 signs and 16 words, compared to 1-3 spoken words for non-signing children. At 18 months Signing Smart children have an average of 79 signs and 105 words, compared to 10-50 spoken words for non-signing children. To read more about our research, see the Research section of our site. For all these (and other) reasons, signing is a wonderful facilitator of spoken language development.

(Top)  I've heard that signing advances development, is this true?
Good news! Research has found that signing with your baby or toddler advances many aspects of development. Signing with children facilitates not only language development and overall intellectual functioning, but also advances children's self esteem, and increases intimacy and attachment between child and caregiver. A study done by Dr. Reyna Lindert, one of the founders of Signing Smart, demonstrates that signing facilitates two-way communication and connections between parents and children. In fact, with the benefits of our many strategies and the host of developmental information you will learn from Signing Smart, you will find yourself more in tune with your child and her attempts to communicate from the very start. See the Research section of our site for more information on the benefits of signing with young children.

(Top)  My child is talking, should I bother to start or to continue signing?
Some families wonder if there is a time when their child is too old to begin Signing Smart, if their child is talking too much to benefit from using signs. Our emphatic answer is that it is never too late to start (or continue) integrating ASL signs and our Signing Smart Strategies into your interactions with your child. Why?

  • Signing Smart parents learn tools to use signs for concept development and learning. ASL signs provide visual highlights of concepts, ideas, or actions, making understanding and learning that much easier.
  • Research by Dr. Michelle Anthony, one of the founders of Signing Smart, has found that children who can systematically integrate language and gesture systems together display higher literacy rates than do other children. Research by Dr. Marilyn Daniels shows that even those hearing children who are not exposed to signs until the preschool years go on to display enhanced vocabulary, spelling, and reading skills over non-signing children (for more on this and other research, see our Research page). Therefore, it is never too late to introduce signs to young children. Even preschoolers can benefit from learning basic signs, and all families will benefit from our long-term learning strategies!
  • Signing Smart parents also learn ways to use signs and Signing Smart strategies to help children clarify their early words. This allows communication to remain successful, and it allows parents to correctly reinforce spoken word attempts, thereby encouraging their child to talk even more and in more extended sentences.