Fingerspelling with your toddler!

Research indicates that using fingerspelling with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children at an early age can support their reading and writing development. Fingerspelling is an important aspect of American Sign Language (ASL) and is highly recommended for expanding vocabulary development. Much like hearing children imitate speech, develop babbling and then eventually the spoken word, Deaf and Hard of Hearing children imitate signs and fingerspelling, develop “babbling” (an approximation) and then eventually the signed or fingerspelled word. Children should be encouraged to start fingerspelling at an early age. Both Deaf and hearing parents should continue to fingerspell words to their children until they grasp the words. It is very important for children to feel comfortable using different handshapes so they can develop the ability to fingerspell. With practice, young children can become fluent in fingerspelling. Research has shown that the more Deaf and Hard of Hearing children who use ASL are exposed to fingerspelling, the more likely they are to later develop fluency in reading and writing. Don’t be afraid to use fingerspelling with your young Deaf and Hard of Hearing children… Fingerspell, fingerspell, fingerspell!


– article authored by Ms. Christie Homell, ASL Teacher, at WPSD

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