What is Signing Smart?
General FAQs: Fequently Asked Questions
What is Signing Smart?
Why sign with hearing children?
Why use Signing Smart materials or programming?
If my child signs, how will other people understand what he's saying?
(Top) What is Signing Smart?
Signing Smart is a strategy-based approach to signing with hearing infants and toddlers that is fun, simple, and successful. By using even some of our many family-friendly techniques, you will find that you do not have to sign all day long, or sign every time you say the words to experience success!
In fact, our materials and programming will teach you when and how to sign when your child is most primed to learn-allowing you to sign less frequently but more powerfully! What a relief to busy families! Signing Smart will help you notice (and easily create) these moments when your child is most ready to learn - they happen naturally throughout the day without any additional work on your part. Once you learn to take advantage of our research-proven strategies and techniques to enrich what you are already doing with your baby, you and your child will quickly enjoy the magic of Signing Smart.
In addition, Signing Smart will grow with your family as your child grows-we have wonderful programming and materials to allow you to use ASL signs and Signing Smart strategies to enhance and facilitate speaking, conceptual development, and long-term learning. In fact, our tools and techniques will benefit both you and your child emotionally, cognitively, and linguistically from early infancy well into the preschool years!
(Top) Why sign with hearing babies and toddlers?
While all hearing children begin the journey toward spoken language development at birth, it takes children between 12 to 24 months to begin "mastering" the sound and intonation patterns of English, and then to begin applying this mastery to the production of basic words and sentences. In contrast, Signing Smart gives you the resources and knowledge to take advantage of natural movements that all children make. And because the gross motor abilities required for signing develop months, sometimes years, earlier than the equivalent fine motor skills required for speech, children can begin to sign very early in development. Therefore, at the same time that infants and toddlers are learning and practicing the sound patterns for English, they can use linguistic hand and body movements to communicate needs, ideas, and thoughts from as early as five months.
Older infants and toddlers who have "mastered" early words will still benefit from seeing and using signs, and their parents or caregivers benefit too. For example, early "talkers" can use signs to expand their vocabulary - commenting, questioning, and conversing using signs for words that they cannot yet say, or coupled with words they are learning to say to make sentences.
Children's use of signs can help clarify their speech, and parents or caregivers can specifically ask their child to use a sign to help them better understand and respond to their child's words.
When parents or caregivers continue to use signs in strategic ways, such as those taught in Signing Smart programs and materials, the signs highlight specific concepts or ideas, and help children differentiate between similarly sounding words. Even older toddlers and preschoolers benefit when parents use signs and Signing Smart strategies to support cognitive development and learning. For example, literally seeing the difference between words like FLEA and FLEE allows young children to more easily learn concepts and complex vocabulary, regardless of the great many words they may already have at their command.
(Top) Why use Signing Smart materials or programming?
While of course you may choose to begin signing with your baby by learning a handful of signs from an ASL dictionary, there are many compelling reasons to use a proven plan and a set of strategies to allow signing with your infant or toddler to be something you integrate into your life, as opposed to something that takes over it! While many baby / toddler sign language companies stress the importance of being consistent and signing whenever you say the word, or starting with only a few specific signs and getting your child to look at you as you produce them, our research has proven there is an easier, more successful way!
By implementing the Signing Smart Start and learning the four simple Keys to Signing Smart Success (including ways to sign without your child ever needing to look directly at you!), you and your family can experience success in a matter of days or weeks, as opposed to needing to wait months! Signing Smart is not about learning a whole new language or needing to "get" your baby to produce complex hand movements. It's about enriching what you are already doing with your baby by learning a selection of useful and interesting signs, verified shortcuts that will allow you to take advantage of the flexibility of a natural language like ASL, and why and how your child's signs (like his early words) will be slightly different from yours. In addition, our tools and strategies will allow your child to develop an extensive sign vocabulary quickly, and they include many tried-and-true techniques to use signs to facilitate spoken language development and concept learning.
Signing Smart is a research-proven approach developed by two Ph.D.s in Developmental Psychology who have years of experience signing with their own children, as well as with the thousands of families that have been a part of Signing Smart programs. All programming and materials were created to work with what Drs. Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert know about children's development, and allow you easy-to-learn techniques that take advantage of their years of training and research.
(Top) If my baby signs, how will other people understand what he's saying?
While it is possible that those who are unfamiliar with signs may stumble at understanding your child, the reality is that without signs, your child would be reduced to points, grunts, and whines to try and communicate with others (your child's care provider, your friends, his grandparents, etc.). Through the wonderfully rich interchanges created by Signing Smart, your child's affect and interactions are much more positive, contributing to successful and enjoyable communication. Signing Smart children are animated children, another facilitator to successful interactions.
Do not be misled: unless someone spends a good deal of time with your child they will likely stumble at his early spoken utterances as well. In fact, until children are about two-years-old and conversing in short sentences, many people - parents included - will struggle to discern what it is that children are saying. If other people spend time with your child, they are just as likely to understand your child's signs as they are your child's words.
Also, don't hesitate to invite family, friends, or childcare workers to get more involved with Signing Smart. Our Diaper Bag Dictionary Flashcard Series is a perfect way to help others easily learn some of the signs you are using. The cards come on a easy-to-carry ring so you can customize the signs you give and allow others to learn the signs that are most important to your child, at their own pace. For these or other materials, see our Store. To hear what others have to say about our materials, see our Testimonials page. Also, invite interested parties to a Signing Smart workshop, or contact a Signing Smart instructor to set up a training at your child's childcare center. For more on classes or programs in your area, see Programs and Locations.