Deafinitely Mum – Should children learn sign language?

 

Hello! Deafinitely Mum here!

Today is a truly exciting vlog, I created this vlog especially for Signature, a company that provided BSL courses, so I’m very excited to work with them on this vlog!

I had been wondering about this vlog; how could Deafinitely mum be linked to Signature?

Ahh! Of course! So stupid! BSL/British Sign Language, of course. Mum brain! So, linking to BSL, aha, I thought this may be a good topic and maybe controversial, so I thought I’d drop it in like an ice block into the sea – causing waves or a little block of ice causing ripples! I’ll see.

So, Sign language is linked to children! Should children learn sign language? I say of course! What’s stopping you?! Of course. I have so much to say, but ill summarise it up. This applies to both deaf and hearing children. I’m profoundly deaf and grew up with deaf parents and I used BSL when I was growing up. I went to mainstream school and still used BSL and I learned to lipread as well – of course – it’s a good skill to have but I’m not special, like I could look at a police video and tell them that they said that! I’m not that amazing. But…I can lipread. I grew up in a mainstream school which meant I also learned spoken and written English, constantly learning about their structure and linguistics. Throughout my GCSE’s, I got a B.

I sign and I have knowledge of English and I have consolidated them. Does my signing skills affect the learning of the English language? No, I can’t see how. I adjust between signing and learning English and it doesn’t really affect me. I know some people can get them mixed up but that’s nothing to be worried about, it’s natural when you’re learning two languages to get them mixed up! Like myself when I’m signing, I then realise I’m signing in SSE (Signed Supported English) which means my signing’s linguistics are English. Really, my first language is BSL.

So why should children learn sign language? They’re so many benefits, if you look on Google you’d realise there’s been research all over the world and research actually says children learning sign language is actually beneficial – there’s no negativity or deprivation. It really benefits so many children to learn English and lean sign language. So…what’s stopping you?

I’ve been reading up on it and it’s amazing as I agreed with it all – it talked about imagination and creativity; children have so much imagination! I know I had a lot, maybe a little bit too much imagination. I only went back to the real world when someone tapped me out of it. I loved being in my imaginary world – it was lovely. Now I can’t even last two seconds in that world before my son pulls my hair out and I apologise to him before quitting my imaginary world. I’m an adult now but lots of children have extreme imaginations and I’m sure you all had a long time ago, imaginary friends, imaginary worlds, imaginary stories.

Children love imagination and spoken English… is okay but sign language would help your children visualise their imagination and be in awe of it. Imagine being able to absorb that and imagine it yourself as someone signs it – beautiful right?! Imagine yourself taking it all in and being in their imaginary world too as they describe it through sign language – forget about the linguistics, forget about the structure, just hands showing you. Wonderful.

It’s mental health too, so many people struggle with it and have inner conflict on how to express themselves, and English may be a barrier as they’d have to word it and it may be frustrating as there’s a barrier. There’s definite proof that research says a lot of them found that sign language actually helps people express themselves because there’s no barriers in trying to find words…in sign language you can tell them how you feel via facial expressions and body language.

So, this is linked to mental health and would benefit children who could show how they’re feeling; for example, shaking hands would show us that they’re feeling anxious. A lot of children that age and I know by personal experience, the word ’anxious’ at 7, 8 years old, won’t know what that is. “I know excited!” But they won’t know what anxious is but if they show it to someone, they may link it to the child feeling anxious and support them. Imagine your child coming up to you and signing how they feel – shaking or sick – and you getting they’re feeling sick. Imagine having easy access to smooth communication via sign and ensuring they’re okay and provide support. It’s a beautiful feeling!

Sign language opens that barrier up for all of you – deaf or hearing as well as hard of hearing, deafened etc. It opens up a new world for you especially for children who need so much support and as parents, it’s our responsibility to look after them and make sure they grow up into beautiful adults; sign language really would benefit them, and it means they could pick things up better if they could turn English into sign language to imagine it. They could get on with it and then reach out if they’re feeling bad – you’d know and you’d be able to support them, imagine that – wouldn’t it be beautiful?

If hearing children learns sign language it would fill deaf people’s hearts that they learned sign language and they’d be so thankful. I know if I’d grown up with a hearing group of friends that learned sign language for me, I would have appreciated it’s much. You wanted to include me, you wanted that…thank you. I know I had a friend that I was lucky to have, a hearing friend throughout high school, that learned sign language for me. That feeling that emotion I felt, that she learned sign language because we were friends…wow. I could actually sit out at lunch and when the other hearing people were chatting, I could sign to that friend. I was a part of that somehow, but I was a part of it!

So imagine your children, your hearing children, reaching out to deaf children and signing to them – the deaf children will be in awe at the fact they know sign language! The emotions they feel, you created that, you created that emotion of positivity! As parents, you would feel proud. My son is hearing, a CODA, and I’m determined for him to know sign language – I teach him sign language. I sign Paw Patrol’s theme song to him via English subtitles on screen I sign sing to him and he seems to enjoy it – he smiles and laughs, he thinks it’s hilarious I’m signing, we have that bond. Rather he just sit, listen and enjoy that me sitting in a corner, not joining in because I can’t hear, I sign to him and he replies with a laugh – that bond grows through British Sign Language.

So what’s so negative about learning sign language? You see so many hearing/CODA’s have a passion for sign language, passionate about the deaf community, passionate about being our allies and wanting to fight, that is beautiful. So when you’re raising your children and want them to learn sign language, go for it! Learn from deaf people who teach BSL – learn from them because their contribution is amazing!

So…learn sign language, okay? Keep in mind, if after a while you can’t think of things to do with your children, look at the signature website, and find qualified BSL teachers on their list! I’m sure you can talk to them on how to teach your children sign language – I’m sure they’d be happy to advise.

You’ll start to spread positivity, spread confidence and promote bilingual languages – make British Sign Language a normal language! And it’s not only just for deaf people. No, it’s for everyone to learn! We’re not stopping anyone, it’s for everyone to learn, from deaf tutors. You will appreciate and learn so much! So! Last word from Deafinitely Mum to you parents – teach your children sign language; in the future, you will know it was the right decision…trust me! See ya!

Got an article you would like to shareinterested in writing for us or have someone that you would love to see featured on our blog? You can get in touch with us at ellie.foster@signature.org.uk or call us on 0191 383 1155.

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