Sign Language Classes
In early child education settings, using signs with preverbal children is beneficial for both the children and the teachers. A study by Claire Vallotton showed that early child educators are more responsive to preverbal children when the children are using signs; when children used signs, teachers were better at making eye contact with them, talking to them, being warm and affectionate, and responding to their needs. Another study by Vallotton showed that teachers feel they know the children better, and they pay closer attention to the children when children are using signs.
Signs allow preverbal children to initiate conversations with their caregivers about their own needs and feelings, hold extended conversations with their caregivers as part of everyday interactions, and can help them cope with stressful routines, such as saying goodbye to mom or dad, or getting their diaper changed.
Early child educators report that using signs with infants and toddlers forces them to pay closer attention to the children; and some classrooms are using signs as a tool for professional development with new teachers. A study by Irma Heller and her colleagues showed that in inclusive classrooms, where children who are deaf or hard of hearing are integrated into a classroom with hearing children, the teachers’ use of sign language during instruction seems to benefit both children who are deaf and those who are hearing.