Monday, July 18, 2011
The latest in our Baby Signs created series of On the Grow™ classes for children Birth to 6 is designed to introduce parents and children to the ASL signs for the letters of the alphabet through fun songs, games, and craft projects. (These classes are offered by a subset of our Baby Signs Instructors. See list in your area under Find a Class.)
Why learn the ASL alphabet? Basically, anything that makes learning about the alphabet fun automatically promotes literacy—and learning the letter signs does just that. Children think it’s fun! And while they are having fun, we are “sneaking in” some important information that is absolutely critical to learning to read. Here are just a few of the ways that signing the alphabet helps lay a strong foundation for literacy.
• Many of the hand shapes roughly resemble the letters they stand for, thereby helping children strengthen the association between the letter names and the visual forms of the letters.
• Learning separate hand shapes for individual letters helps clarify for children what the letter names actually stand for—for example, that “du-bul-you” is actually one, not three letters and the “emeno” is actually three letters (M,N,O) not one!
• Learning the letter signs leads naturally to “fingerspelling” of simple words which, in turn, provides visual evidence that words are made up of separate sounds. For example, simply saying the word “cat” blends all the sounds together, making it hard for children to understand that it’s actually a sequence of three sounds: “cah + ah + ta”. Having separate hand signs for each sound makes it easier for children to grasp this critical notion.
So, if you’re interested in helping you and child learn the ASL alphabet while having a great time with other families, check out the Baby Signs website to find an On the Grow™ Educator near you!
Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!
Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs® Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis