Where to begin when teaching children sign language depends on many factors. Most importantly, the age of the group and prior exposure to ASL. People of all ages can learn American Sign Language even with no prior exposure to ASL. When teachers and caregivers teach the children in their program ASL, they typically begin with the words that are most commonly used by the children. Often these are names for people and mealtimes.
Below are some recommendations for beginning signs:
While these signs are simply recommendations, it is important to use sign often and in context. The efficacy of the sign instruction and the child’s ability to retain and use the signs is completely dependent upon how often the child is exposed to the signs in the correct context. It is also important to note that children will typically not begin signing back until they are approximately 8-14 months old, according to Claire Vallotton, Ph.D.
Times shown are Pacific Standard Time. If you are in Central or Eastern Time, you will need to adjust the time accordingly.
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