A lot of parents ask us if teaching their children sign language will hinder their progress in speech. The short answer is: No! Definitely not, and here's some reasons why:
1) Signing is a really great indicator that the child is communicating correctly! It's a great way to see the thought process going on in their head, and measure their recepitve language.
2) For children, it can be easier to pick up on gestures before they can pick up on spoken language. Therefore, signing gives children a mean s of communicating while they are learning to speak.
3) While teaching children new signs, it's important to speak the words. This way, you can expose the child to oral communication at the same time. For example, as you sign the word "more", say it over and over, as well.
4) Research has shown that not only does signing not hinder speech, it actually hastens speec development and reduces frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves before they know how to talk, increases parent-child bonding, and lets babies communicate vital information, such as if they are hurt or hungry
5 )Gestural communication is not only useful in the learning of spoken language, but it is key as a young person begins to learn nuances of non-verbal communication.
6) When a child uses sign language, they are able to develop their language system even before they are able to speak—this actually gives them a head start on communicating until their mouth and speech system can catch up!
7) For some children with speech/language delays, sign language can be the “push” they need to begin speaking.
8 )It is crucial to remember that all children are different and signing may be beneficial in developing oral communication for some children but not for others.
So there's no need to worry! Communication of any kind at any age is always beneficial and instead of holding a child back from verbalizing their thoughts, signing actually pushes them further!