One population that may be overlooked when it comes to thoughts about American Sign Language is toddlers! That period in life is ripe for absorbing amazing amounts of information and engaging in active learning about the world, which of course includes acquiring language and other communication skills.
What better time to learn ASL? Toddlers already gesture in an attempt to be understood, why not apply those natural tendencies to learning American Sign Language? There are many inherent benefits to infants learning ASL. As mentioned, it encourages and strengthens language acquisition, fostering that natural progression toward speech. It provides toddlers with a means to easily express their wants and needs, making communication less frustrating for them. Subsequently, communication between parents can improve as well.
As toddlers utilize a variety of gestures learning American Sign Language, they are building important bridges in the brain, exercising synapses and making connections that can only benefit them in other areas of their learning. So, the next time that little one is refusing his peas, try distracting him with a few new ASL words, and who knows? Perhaps those vegetables will look more appetizing when he realizes how much fun they look via the interesting gestures that populate American Sign Language! Making language acquisition amusing can be a doorway to wonder for young children, enjoy it.