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Signing with babies has started to become popular. Most parents sign with their children to avoid the terrible twos. It is true that parents who sign with their hearing children have children that talk sooner and are less frustrated than non-signing children. But the benefits of signing don't stop when the child begins to talk. For most parents, when the child begins to talk, the parents stop signing. What parents do not realize is that signing with children uses the same part of the brain that children later will use when learning to read. It should come as no surprise that signing which is visual would use the same part of the brain as reading which is also a visual mode of learning. Research is showing that parents who continue to sign with their children have children that are more interested in books and learn to read sooner. It is very important when signing to children while reading that parents sign the same way good children read. In other words, parents should not be signing every word in the book. How do good readers process words on a page? Why does sign language help children learn to read?
How should I incorporate sign into every day activities to help my child become a better reader? To find the answers to these questions, read the book Hands on Literacy by Trish Peterson, MS Ed. Every day activities to promote reading readiness are listed by age group along with milestones you should expect your child to master during that stage. Trish Peterson has a BS in Teaching the Deaf from Penn State and a MS in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Learning Styles from Salem-Teiko. She has been working with young children in early intervention for five years. Prior to that she taught sign to hearing children in high schools for four years and was a teacher of the deaf in residential, self-contained and mainstreamed settings for 12 years. In addition to providing early intervention services, she currently works as a speech therapist for TST BOCES in Ithaca, NY.