American Sign Language (ASL) is the third most used language in the United States of America. While some proponents of signing with babies have tried to develop a separate set of signs, the majority of researchers and educators (including Words by the Handful) support and use ASL.
ASL is made up of signs and fingerspelling. Most signs are iconographic in that they represent what they mean. Fingerspelling is the use of hand shapes for the letters of the alphabet to literally spell out words with the fingers.
Since signs ‘look like’ what they are trying to say, they provide a visual hook to help us remember them. That helps moms and dads and babies learn and remember them. In the long term, this can also help with conceptual development and memory.
WordsbytheHandful.com is a site for parents and educators who are interested in using signs to help babies ‘talk’ before they can speak. Many children (and parents) tend to stop signing when speech is attained, but the benefits of learning and using sign language are many and lasting. Reading readiness is one of the benefits of sign language use. Introducing the finger-spelled alphabet to children before they can write is a good ‘next step’ in using signs to boost your child’s pre-elementary learning.