Daycare teaches sign language to toddlers as young as 6 weeks old

Babies have a unique way of expressing themselves long before they utter their first words.
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 7:43 AM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - Babies have a unique way of expressing themselves long before they utter their first words.

To give them a head start, a daycare center in Mount Pleasant is developing children’s communication skills as early as six weeks old.

These caregivers do this by teaching American Sign Language.

At The Learning Experience daycare center it’s not just about childcare it’s about early childhood education and development.

Hungry? Tap fingers to the mouth. More? Tap fingers on both hands together.

Milk? Squeeze your hand like you’re milking a cow.

These are just a few of the signs these kids are learning.

Through language cards, playtime, mealtime, and teacher-to-child interactions these children are a powerful tool for expression.

The goal is to create an interest in language-related activities.

Sarah VanDeWege, the director at The Learning Experience, explains how these kids are actively using sign language to communicate with each other.

“We also have siblings that are here, and we have one that is in the preschool and her sister’s in the toddler room, and she will sign to her sister when they’re when they’re ready to leave. She’ll be. I gave him a treat the other day and then she said to her sister ‘Oh, do you want more?’ And her sister said more and so it’s a way for her to also communicate with her sister not just the adults”, VanDeWege said.

Based on their research, infants exposed to sign language not only speak earlier but also boast larger vocabularies and an impressive understanding of words by age two.

Jaeda Reames, the Curriculum Coordinator at The Learning Experience, says not only does sign language help with their communication skills but also with their emotional development.

“If we don’t know what’s going on. They may be able to sign something, and we’ll be like, Oh, wow, okay, he’s hungry. That’s why he’s crying. He’s crying because he’s hungry and he wants more food. Okay, now we know the avenue to take with that child”, Reames said.