Tag Archives: Language

New York University study: Low-income children missing out on language learning both at home and at school: A double dose of disadvantage

16 Apr

Educators have long recognized the importance of vocabulary in reading and learning. Francie Alexander wrote in the Scholastic article, Understanding Vocabulary:

Why is vocabulary s-o-o important?
Vocabulary is critical to reading success for three reasons:
1. Comprehension improves when you know what the words mean. Since comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, you cannot overestimate the importance of vocabulary development.
2. Words are the currency of communication. A robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication — listening, speaking, reading and writing.
3. How many times have you asked your students or your own children to “use your words”? When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too.http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/understanding-vocabulary

A University of Chicago study, “Quality of early parent input predicts child vocabulary three years later,” published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlights the importance of parental involvement at an early stage of learning. See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2013/06/24/giving-children-non-verbal-clues-about-words-boosts-vocabularies#sthash.V4f1L1Vb.dpuf

Science Daily reported in Low-income children missing out on language learning both at home and at school: A double dose of disadvantage:

Children from poor neighborhoods are less likely to have complex language building opportunities both in home and at school, putting them at a disadvantage in their kindergarten year, finds a new study led by NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
The findings, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, suggest that language learning should involve both families and teachers in order to overcome these early disadvantages and ensure learning opportunities for vulnerable students.
“Children may go from a home with limited physical and psychological resources for learning and language to a school with similar constraints, resulting in a double dose of disadvantage,” said Susan B. Neuman, professor of childhood and literacy education at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s lead author. “Our study suggests that neighborhoods matter and can have a powerful influence on nurturing success or failure.”
Research shows that children’s academic achievement is predicted not only by their family’s socioeconomic status, but also by the socioeconomic status of their school. These two factors together have an impact on children’s access to learning resources, including adults who create language-rich opportunities when they speak with children.
“Children’s early exposure to a rich set of language practices can set in motion the processes that they use for learning to read, including the vocabulary and background knowledge necessary for language and reading comprehension,” Neuman said. “Consequently, children who have limited experience with these kinds of linguistic interactions may have fewer opportunities to engage in the higher-order exchanges valued in school….” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170414105818.htm

Citation:

Low-income children missing out on language learning both at home and at school
A double dose of disadvantage
Date: April 14, 2017
Source: New York University
Summary:
Children from poor neighborhoods are less likely to have complex language building opportunities both in home and at school, putting them at a disadvantage in their kindergarten year, finds a new study.
Journal Reference:
1. Susan B. Neuman, Tanya Kaefer, Ashley M. Pinkham. A Double Dose of Disadvantage: Language Experiences for Low-Income Children in Home and School.. Journal of Educational Psychology, 2017; DOI: 10.1037/edu0000201

Here is the press release from NYU:

News Release
A Double Dose of Disadvantage: Low-income Children Missing Out on Language Learning Both at Home and at School

Apr 14, 2017

Education and Social Sciences Research Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
New York City
Children from poor neighborhoods are less likely to have complex language building opportunities both in home and at school, putting them at a disadvantage in their kindergarten year, finds a new study led by NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
The findings, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, suggest that language learning should involve both families and teachers in order to overcome these early disadvantages and ensure learning opportunities for vulnerable students.
“Children may go from a home with limited physical and psychological resources for learning and language to a school with similar constraints, resulting in a double dose of disadvantage,” said Susan B. Neuman, professor of childhood and literacy education at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s lead author. “Our study suggests that neighborhoods matter and can have a powerful influence on nurturing success or failure.”
Research shows that children’s academic achievement is predicted not only by their family’s socioeconomic status, but also by the socioeconomic status of their school. These two factors together have an impact on children’s access to learning resources, including adults who create language-rich opportunities when they speak with children.
“Children’s early exposure to a rich set of language practices can set in motion the processes that they use for learning to read, including the vocabulary and background knowledge necessary for language and reading comprehension,” Neuman said. “Consequently, children who have limited experience with these kinds of linguistic interactions may have fewer opportunities to engage in the higher-order exchanges valued in school.”
In this study, Neuman and her colleagues examined language-advancing resources in both the homes and schools of 70 children who recently made the transition from preschool to kindergarten. Half of the families lived in poor neighborhoods in Detroit, while the other half lived in more demographically diverse Michigan communities that were largely working class.
The researchers followed the children through their kindergarten year, conducting targeted observations in both home and school settings. During four hour-long home visits, the researchers observed the engagement between parents and their children to understand the degree of cognitive stimulation in the home and the quality of the interactions. They also conducted four half-day observations in kindergarten classrooms during which the teachers’ speaking was recorded. The researchers analyzed the language spoken by parents and teachers for both quantity (number of words spoken) and quality (using varied vocabulary and complex sentences).
These observations were combined with assessments of the children’s school readiness skills, including vocabulary knowledge and letter and word identification.
The researchers found that children in low-income neighborhoods had fewer supports for language and early literacy developments than did those in working class communities. In both settings, there were significant differences in the quality of language directed at children, but there was no difference in the quantity of language overall.
At home, parents in low-income neighborhoods used shorter sentences, fewer different words, and had lower reading comprehension than did parents from working class neighborhoods. In the classroom, children from the low-income communities attended kindergartens characterized by more limited language opportunities. Teachers used simpler sentences, less varied vocabulary, and fewer unique word types, potentially oversimplifying their language for students.
Children in all neighborhoods experienced learning across their kindergarten year, but children in the working class communities outpaced their counterparts from low-income communities, particularly in expressive vocabulary.
“We found that the quality of one’s educational opportunities is highly dependent on the streets where you live. Tragically, the children who need the greater opportunity to learn appear to be the least likely to get it,” Neuman said.
The results suggest that no matter the strength of the early boost children receive in preschool, differences in later environmental influences can either support or undermine this early advantage.
“Too often we have focused on what happens within early childhood programs instead of the environmental supports that surround them. We need to account for the multiple contexts of home and school in our understanding of children’s early development,” Neuman said.
Tanya Kaefer of Lakehead University and Ashley M. Pinkham of West Texas A&M University coauthored
the study. The research was funded by the Institute for Education Sciences, US Department of Education (R305A110038).
About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (@nyusteinhardt)
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School’s mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit steinhardt.nyu.edu.
Press Contact
Rachel Harrison
Rachel Harrison
(212) 998-6797

The goal of parents, teachers, students, and society should be that all children succeed in obtaining a good basic education. In order to achieve this goal, children must come to school ready to learn. See, Illiteracy in America https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/illiteracy-in-america/

Related:

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum https://drwilda.com/2012/01/24/the-importance-of-the-skill-of-handwriting-in-the-school-curriculum/

The slow reading movement
https://drwilda.com/2012/01/31/the-slow-reading-movement/

Why libraries in K-12 schools are important
https://drwilda.com/2012/12/26/why-libraries-in-k-12-schools-are-important/

University of Iowa study: Variation in words may help early learners read better https://drwilda.com/2013/01/16/university-of-iowa-study-variation-in-words-may-help-early-learners-read-better/

Baby Sign Language: Does It Work?
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-sign-language-does-it-work

Teaching Your Baby Sign Language Can Benefit Both of You http://psychcentral.com/lib/teaching-your-baby-sign-language-can-benefit-both-of-you/0002423

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com
Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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Council of Chief State School Officers attempts to define English-learner

31 Aug

According to the Institute of Education Sciences, many children are learning English. In Fast Facts, they report:
English language learners

Question:
Do you have information on children who speak a language other than English at home?
Response:
The number of school-age children (children ages 5–17) who spoke a language other than English at home rose from 4.7 to 11.2 million between 1980 and 2009, or from 10 to 21 percent of the population in this age range. From 2006 to 2009, this percentage remained between 20 and 21 percent. After increasing from 4 to 7 percent between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of school-age children who spoke a language other than English at home and spoke English with difficulty decreased to 5 percent in 2009.
Among school-age children who spoke a non-English language at home, the percentage who spoke English with difficulty generally decreased between 1980 and 2009. For example, 41 percent of these children spoke English with difficulty in 1980, compared with 36 percent in 2000, some 25 percent in 2006, and 24 percent in 2009. School enrollment patterns have also changed over time for these children: the enrollment rate increased from 90 to 93 percent between 1980 and 2009.
In 2009, the percentage of school-age children who spoke a language other than English at home and spoke English with difficulty varied by demographic characteristics, including race/ethnicity, citizenship status, poverty status, and age. Sixteen percent each of Hispanics and Asians spoke a non-English language at home and spoke English with difficulty, compared with 6 percent of Pacific Islanders, 3 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives, and 1 percent each of Whites, Blacks, and children of two or more races.
Concerning differences by age, the percentage of 5- to 9-year-olds who spoke a non-English language at home and spoke English with difficulty (7 percent) was greater than the percentages of 10- to 13-year-olds and 14- to-17-year-olds who did so (4 percent each). These patterns by age held across most demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). The Condition of Education 2011 (NCES 2011-045), Indicator 6.
Related Tables and Figures: (Listed by Release Date)
• 2012, Digest of Education Statistics 2011, Table 134. Average reading scale scores of 4th- and 8th-graders in public schools and percentage scoring at or above selected reading achievement levels, by English language learner (ELL) status and state: 2011
http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d11/tables/dt11_134.asp
• 2009, Number and percentage of all schools that had any students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or who were limited-English proficient (LEP) and percentage of students with an IEP or who were LEP, by school type and selected school characteristics: 2007–08
http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009321/tables/sass0708_2009321_s12n_02.asp
Other Resources: (Listed by Release Date)
• 2010, Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS): This survey includes three longitudinal studies that examine child development, school readiness, and early school experiences.
http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009321/tables/sass0708_2009321_s12n_02.asp
• 2010, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): This site provides access to publications and data on the reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, and arts achievement of U.S. 4th-,8th-, and 12th-grade students.
http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/
• 2010, National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES): This site provides access to publications and data on learning at all ages, from early childhood to school age through adulthood.
http://nces.ed.gov/nhes/
• 2010, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS): This site offers extensive data on American public and private elementary and secondary schools.
http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/
http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=96

There are many reasons that children should learn English.

5 minute English lists reasons that children should learn English in Why Learn English: 10 Reasons to Learn English:

1. English is the most commonly used language among foreign language speakers. Throughout the world, when people with different languages come together they commonly use English to communicate.

2. Why learn English when it is so difficult? Well, knowing English will make you bilingual and more employable in every country in the world.

3. Despite China, the United States is still a leader in technical innovation and economic development. English is used in the United States and in each of these fields.

4. English is commonly spoken throughout much of the world due to Great Britian’s expansion during the colonial age. People in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, parts of Africa, India, and many smaller island nations speak English. English is the commonly adopted second language in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. Speaking English opens these countries and cultures up to you.

5. Another reason why English is so important is that it is the language of science. To excel in science you need to know English.

6. English is based on an alphabet and, compared to Chinese, it can be learned fairly quickly.

7. English is also the language of the Film Industry and English means you no longer have to rely on subtitles.

8. In the United States, speaking English immediately opens up opportunities regardless of your ethnicity, color, or background.

9. Learn English and you can then teach your children English — or if they are already learning, you can now communicate with them in English.

10. English speakers in the United States earn more money than non-English speakers. Learning English will open your job prospects and increase your standard of living.
http://www.5minuteenglish.com/why-learn-english.htm

Schools must define English-learner in order to educate these children.

Lesli A. Maxwell reported in the Education Week article, New Guide To Help States Commonly Define English-Learners:

With a just-released set of recommendations from the Council of Chief State School Officers to help guide them, most states are now set to embark on an effort to bring much more uniformity to identifying who English-learners are and when those students are no longer in need of language instruction. The goal is to move all states to a more consistent playing field over the next two years.
Doing so would upend current practice, which for decades has had states and local school districts using very different approaches to identifying ELLs and reclassifying them as fluent. It would also lead, experts say, to much more comparability among states and districts for how well they are serving this growing population of students.
“If we can move states toward more coherence around English-learners, that is only going to improve services for these students,” said Robert Linquanti, a senior research associate at WestEd, a San Francisco-based research organization, and a co-author of the CCSSO policy recommendations.
The U.S. Department of Education is an important driver of the states’ effort to move toward a more consistent approach to identifying and reclassifying English-learners.
States belonging to the consortia that are designing shared assessments for the Common Core State Standards—as well as the two groups developing new English-language-proficiency tests—agreed, as a condition of receiving federal grant money for those endeavors, to work together to establish more uniform definitions of ELLs.
The hope is that even states not participating in any of the assessment groups will be part of the effort, especially Texas, where more than 800,000 English-learners attend public schools….
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2013/08/new_guide_for_states_on_how_to.html?intc=es

Citation:

Toward a “Common Definition of English Learner”: Guidance for States and State Assessment Consortia in Defining and Addressing Policy and Technical Issues and Options
Publication date August 2013
publication pdf Toward a “Common Definition of English Learner”: Guidance for States and State Assessment Consortia in Defining and Addressing Policy and Technical Issues and Options

Link http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/2013/Toward_a_Common_Definition_2013.pdf

States participating in the four federally-funded assessment consortia are required to establish a “common definition of English Learner.” This includes the two Race to the Top academic assessment consortia and the two Enhanced Assessment Grant English language proficiency (ELP) assessment consortia. This paper provides guidance that consortium member states can use to move toward establishing a common English learner definition in ways that are theoretically-sound, evidence-based, pragmatic, and sensitive to the many policy, technical, and legal issues.
Specifically, the paper briefly outlines central issues, and discusses policy and technical options, for defining English learners using a four-stage framework of key criteria and processes to:
• Identify a student as a potential English learner;
• Classify (confirm/disconfirm) a student as an English learner;
• Establish an “English-language proficient” performance standard on the state/consortium ELP test against which to assess ELs’ English-language proficiency; and
• Reclassify a student to former-EL status through the use of multiple exit criteria.
Contact:Shannon Glynnshannon.glynn@ccsso.org
http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/2013/Toward_a_Common_Definition_2013.pdf

Here is the conclusion and summary of recommendations:

Conclusion

The complex policy and technical issues involved in developing a common EL definition are going to require a well-defined roadmap of processes and decisions for all consortia members to enact over time. Given the different permutation of states involved in the four consortia, this work is best engaged via close coordination and frequent communication within and across consortia. All phases and criteria — including initial identification, classification, and reclassification — will need to be addressed, using all consortia assessments.
It is prudent to approach the issue of creating a common definition of an English learner as a multi-staged, multiyear, deliberative process. As assessments come on line, teachers begin to teach to the Common Core State Standards, and educational systems align to the expectations of college- and career-readiness, a refined understanding of English language proficiency will emerge. States and the consortia to which they belong should plan now for this process. To that end, a forthcoming paper under the sponsorship of CCSSO’s English Language Learner (ELL) Assessment Advisory Committee will offer further guidance on issues and opportunities described above, and discuss how states and consortia might proceed toward a common definition of English Learner.

Summary of Recommendations

1. Consortia states should adopt a common, standardized, and validated Home Language Survey, which can be used to identify potential ELs.
2. States within a given consortium (ELP or academic) should have consistent initial EL classification tools and procedures, or, in the case of states in overlapping (ELP and academic) consortia, demonstrate that their tools and procedures lead to comparable initial EL classification results.
3. States within and across consortia should clearly establish what “English proficient” means on all ELP assessments used. In doing so, they should carefully consider how differing composite score domain weights affect claims about comparability of the “English proficient” performance standard across ELP measures.
4. Consortia states should identify a theoretically sound, empirically informed performance standard or performance range on any commonly shared ELP assessment. In doing so, they should examine the relationship of both ELP and academic content assessment results.
5. Consortia states should move toward comparable, standardized and validated reclassification criteria, in addition to ELP assessment results, that schools and districts might use in EL reclassification decisions.
6. Consortia states, the US Department of Education, and federal and state policymakers should recognize that establishing a common definition of English learner will require a multi-staged, multiyear, deliberative process.

It is important to educate ALL children.

The Global Partnership for Education lists reasons why education is important in The Value of Education:

The Value of Education
Investing in education is the single most effective means of reducing poverty.
Girls and boys who learn to read, write and count will provide a better future for their families and countries. With improved education, so many other areas are positively affected. In short, education has the power to make the world a better place.
Education is more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is one of the most important investments a country can make in its people and its future and is critical to reducing poverty and inequality:
• Education gives people critical skills and tools to help them better provide for themselves and their children
• Education helps people work better and can create opportunities for sustainable and viable economic growth now and into the future
• Education helps fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, reduces mother and child mortality and helps improve health
• Education encourages transparency, good governance, stability and helps fight against graft and corruption.
The impact of investment in education is profound: education results in raising income, improving health, promoting gender equality, mitigating climate change, and reducing poverty.
Here is a breakdown of the impact of education on people’s lives:
• Income and Growth
• Health
• Gender Equality
• Other
Education is the key to unlocking a country’s potential for economic growth:
• If all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. This is equal to a 12% cut in global poverty. (EFA GMR, UNESCO, p. 8)
• One extra year of schooling increases an individual’s earnings by up to 10%. (EFA GMR, UNESCO, p.7)
• Wages, agricultural income and productivity – all critical for reducing poverty – are higher where women involved in agriculture receive a better education. (EFA GMR, UNESCO p. 4)
• Each additional year of schooling raises average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 0.37%. (EFA GMR, UNESCO, p.6)
• An increase of one standard deviation in student scores on international assessments of literacy and mathematics is associated with a 2% increase in annual GDP per capita growth. (World Bank, p.32)
http://www.globalpartnership.org/who-we-are/the-value-of-education/

ALL children have a right to a good basic education.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com

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http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
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Baby sign language

28 Jul

Michael Alison Chandler reported in the Washington Post article, Baby sign language more popular as parents aim to communicate:

Many babies don’t graduate from jabbering to meaningful extended dialogue until they are closer to 2 years old. A growing number of parents, eager to communicate with their babies sooner, are starting conversations with their hands.
American Sign Language is increasingly becoming a temporary way to bridge baby talk and conversational English….
Proponents say sign language promotes brain development and parent-infant bonding while giving babies a way to communicate their wants and needs a little earlier.
Starting at about 9 months, babies start using their hands and arms to communicate. They often learn to wave and clap and point, and their gestures increase as they begin to stand and walk, freeing their arms to move, said Brenda Seal, director of Gallaudet’s speech-language pa­thol­ogy program.
Babies can begin to imitate signs even if, as with babbling, they offer up a simpler version of the original.
Any kind of sign can come in handy, though, for parents desperate to understand the garbled demands of a frustrated toddler. (Oh, you want shoes! I thought you said juice!!)
“It was the fear of constant meltdowns that inspired me to do it,” said Christy Martinich, a new mom and wealth manager who hosted the class in her Alexandria living room this month.
Ladino told the group that babies can use signs to express more than basic needs. Long before she could string together sentences, Ladino’s daughter was making jokes, she said. At about 13 months, she smirked and signed “snakes” over a pile of spaghetti. Another time, she signed “bath” after dunking her Teddy Graham into a cup of water.
“One of the wonderful things about sign language is that you can peek into their minds and find out what they are thinking,” she said.
The growth of baby sign language is being fueled by a booming cottage industry of mostly mom-run businesses, with names such as Tiny Fingers and WeeHands, that offer lessons in yoga studios, living rooms and community centers.
Scores of books and hundreds of Web sites demonstrate signs suitable for baby mealtimes and bath time. Some teach American Sign Language, and some use other signs or gestures. More than 4 million viewers have clicked on the YouTube video “cute signing baby!,” which shows a 1-year-old in a highchair demonstrating dozens of signs at her mother’s prompting.
With some research to support their concerns, some parents worry that introducing signs or gestures competes for a baby’s attention and working memory and that it can potentially interfere with spoken-language learning.
But the most widely cited research shows the opposite to be true. A longitudinal study published in 2000 and funded by the National Institutes of Health showed that a group of babies who were exposed to signs or gestures along with talking scored better on multiple measures of language acquisition at 2 years old than children who were exposed to talking alone. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/baby-sign-language-more-popular-as-parents-aim-to-communicate/2013/07/28/6ad114a4-f0a4-11e2-9008-61e94a7ea20d_story.html

Citation:

Susan Goodwyn, Linda Acredolo, and Catherine Brown (in press). Impact of symbolic
gesturing on early language development. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.

SUMMARY:

This is the article in which we present the most important findings from our NIH-sponsored longitudinal study of the impact on verbal development of purposefully enco uraging infants to use symbolic gestures. Standardized tests of both receptive and expressive language development had been administered at 11, 15, 19, 24, 30, and 36 months to both an experimental group of babies (Baby Signers) and two control groups. Results demonstrated a clear advantage for the Baby Signers, thereby laying to rest the most frequently voiced concern of parents – that Baby Signing might hamper learning to talk. In fact, the good news is that Baby Signing actually facilitates verbal language development.

Abstract Impact of Symbolic Gesturing on Early Language Development
Susan W. Goodwyn, Linda P. Acredolo and Catherine A. Brown
California State University, Stanislaus
University of California, Davis
San Diego State University
(2000) Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 24, 81-103. http://www.mybabycantalk.com/content/information/research/Impact%20of%20Symbolic%20Gesturing.pdf

As with any instructional technique, there are pros and cons of baby sign language.

Patricia Carlson posted the article, Baby Sign Language at Parents and kids Magazine:

There is plenty of evidence supporting baby sign language’s efficacy. “I’ve done sign with all my kiddos. It’s a great way to teach them to communicate calmly and effectively before they can articulate,” says mother of four, Alicia McDougall, of Maine. But like any trend, there are those who say it’s not worth the effort and can actually harm your child’s development. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of baby sign language.

PROS

Curbs frustration

It’s not uncommon for young children to cry, fuss, or even throw temper tantrums.

You may write it off as your child not knowing what he/she wants, but a more likely answer is that your child simply can’t communicate what he/she wants. You can eliminate a lot of that frustration by using baby sign language. “It gives them a way to communicate while they are working on their words and makes life much less frustrating for them,” says mom of five, Melissa Cyr, of Maine. By signing, your child has the ability to ‘tell’ you his/her need. No more guessing games!

Develops verbal skills

– Baby sign language works by matching a feeling or object with a word.

So it’s no wonder that babies start understanding language before they can actually say what they’re thinking. Parents say it’s encouraging to watch their child make the connection between a sign, a word, and finally the sound of that word. Here’s a neat example from dad David Madore of New Jersey: “My daughter would do the sign for ‘more.’ It had only been a few weeks of signing ‘more,’ and we were making the sign, and she looks at me, puts her hands down, and slowly works her mouth and sounds into saying the word, ‘more.’ So, her first word came as a result of signing.” After her initial skepticism, even speech pathologist Karen Rossignol has come on board. “I was antisign,” the mom from Maine says. “I thought it would delay his speech, but his speech is excellent.” Promotes understanding of emotions – Advocates say signing helps babies and toddlers not only match a movement to a need or an emotion, but eventually, it helps children identify what they’re feeling. This ability to understand what emotion they’re feeling and the appropriate way to express it is a big step for any child to make. Plus, it’s exciting for parents to see and offers another outlet for praise. “Nothing is cuter than seeing [my son] rub his tummy when he says “please,” says mother of two, Kirsten Jensen, of North Dakota.

CONS

Teaching time – It will take a consistent routine to teach your baby sign language. There are various methods available through your local hospital, books, the internet, or even ASL classes, but one thing they have in common is that they need to be regularly reinforced. That means using the word and the sign together most, if not all, of the time. This can be especially difficult for families where both parents work. Danielle Karpinos from Chicago says she didn’t see the point of teaching her daughter sign language – as long as she stayed cued in to her daughter’s demeanor and desires. “I figured out really early on what Anya wanted,” Karpinos says.

“Anya said her first word at about 10 months – it was ‘breakfast’.” But if you’re really keen on teaching your child sign language, you may be able to find a daycare that has signing as part of its curriculum.

Consistency – In addition to the time it takes to teach your child sign language, you may also need to teach other family members and friends, too.

Teaching your child to sign won’t do much good if those around him/her don’t keep up the routine.

This can lead to added frustration for your baby and his/her caretakers. For example, your baby can become confused or angry when he/she is signing a need and the person on the receiving end has no idea what the movement means.

Cost

– Depending on the method you choose to teach your baby sign language, it’s best to know that there may be a cost associated with it. A quick search on the internet reveals DVD’s starting at $20, seminars upwards of $45, and other package ‘deals’ retailing as much as $150. Marcy Tilas, a mom from Maine, says she didn’t like the marketing aspect of baby sign language programs, especially when some places, like hospitals, offer classes for free. “Do not, I repeat do not, invest in any “Baby Signs” line stuff being sold out there,” she warns. “It is creepy, and hard to follow.” Perhaps it’s best to research local and low-cost options before investing in costly programs.

Finally,

there is one area where experts and parents are divided on whether or not baby sign language is a good option when it comes to developing your child’s language use: children with disabilities.
http://www.bluetoad.com/display_article.php?id=433355

Should parents decide that baby sign language is appropriate for their child, Dr. Hoecker of the Mayo Clinic has some great advice.

Jay L. Hoecker, M.D. wrote in the Mayo Clinic article, Is baby sign language worthwhile?

Limited research suggests that baby sign language might give a typically developing child a way to communicate several months earlier than those who only use vocal communication. This might help ease frustration between ages 8 months and 2 years — when children begin to know what they want, need and feel but don’t necessarily have the verbal skills to express themselves. Children who have developmental delays might benefit, too. Further research is needed, however, to determine if baby sign language promotes advanced language, literacy or cognition.
To begin teaching your child baby sign language, familiarize yourself with signs through books, websites or other sources. To get the most out of your baby sign language experience, keep these tips in mind:
Set realistic expectations. Feel free to start signing with your child at any age — but remember that most children aren’t able to communicate with baby sign language until about age 8 months.
Keep signs simple. Start with signs to describe routine requests, activities and objects in your child’s life — such as more, drink, eat, mother and father. Choose signs that are of most interest to your child.
Make it interactive. Try holding your baby on your lap, with his or her back to your stomach. Embrace your baby’s arms and hands to make signs. Or carry your baby and make the sign on his or her body. Alternate talking and not talking while signing. To give signs context, try signing while bathing, diapering, feeding or reading to your baby. Acknowledge and encourage your child when he or she uses gestures or signs to communicate.
Stay patient. Don’t get discouraged if your child uses signs incorrectly or doesn’t start using them right away. The goal is improved communication and reduced frustration — not perfection. However, avoid accepting indiscriminate movements as signs.
Keep in mind that, as you teach baby sign language, it’s important to continue talking to your child. Spoken communication is an important part of your child’s speech development. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/baby-sign-language/AN02127

One positive thing about baby sign language is that it promotes communication and interaction between the parent and their child.

Resources:

Baby Sign Language: Does It Work?
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-sign-language-does-it-work
Teaching Your Baby Sign Language Can Benefit Both of You
http://psychcentral.com/lib/teaching-your-baby-sign-language-can-benefit-both-of-you/0002423

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