1. You will be able to communicate with the Deaf and hearing-impaired.
Did you know that there is a whole Deaf culture right under the very noses (or ears) of the hearing world? It is a true culture, complete with its own language, history, social customs, art, literature, and humour. Go ahead, google Deaf culture and you will scrape the surface of a culture that you didn’t even know existed. Learning American Sign Language is the first step to exploring this world
2. In some areas, it will satisfy the high school foreign-language requirement.
Check the requirements for a high school diploma in your region. In many states, ASL is recognized as a foreign language for this purpose. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Ontario. Click here to sign the petition to have the Ontario Ministry of Education assign ASL course codes for the OSSD.
3. Your kids will have an exclusive secret language.
Fun, right? My boys call ASL “American Spy Language.”
4. It trains your brain to work visually and kinesthetically.
Visual and kinesthetic learners will have the easiest time picking up this new language, but it is also a great way to challenge your non-visual, non-kinesthetic learners (like me) to stretch themselves in these areas. I have had to learn to pay close attention to visual stimuli at a much faster pace than I am accustomed to, and my proprioception is also greatly improving. People on the autism spectrum may benefit from this challenge as well.
5. It can help you learn other languages.
I have a smattering of French, but I have never been successful at passing this on to my children. My attempts at immersion met with blank stares and glazed expressions, leading me to switch back to English just to make myself understood. I didn’t have the fluency or vocabulary to keep it up.
Now, I have a foothold for teaching French. I simply teach them the French vocabulary for the signs that they already know. “Donnes-moi tes chaussettes, s’il vous plait,” I say, and then I can slow it down and sign it. It keeps them from giving me that deer-in-headlights look. They understand what I am saying by the signs, but they can keep their brains working in French without mentally switching gears to English. Fluency and automaticity are much more easily acquired when one can prevent the mental translation of the new language into the native language.
6. It’s a Family-Integrated course of study
When we began learning ASL together, we were all at Level Zero. We started out with Baby ASL videos on Youtube, and had a lot of fun practicing and stretching our vocabularies together.
Once everyone starts signing around the house, even Daddy will begin to pick up some signs (whether he intends to or not)!
7. Your children can “talk” with their mouths full without being gross.
How great is that?
8. It’s a fun way to mix up the normal family dynamics.
My middle, Shiny Boots (4), is our most proficient finger-speller, and is very quick at picking up new signs. She just loves having a subject where she outpaces her big brothers, and it’s great for her confidence. The middle child often needs just that kind of boost.
9. It can help solve the Homeschooling-with-Little-Ones scheduling dilemma
I know what you’re thinking: This sounds great, but I just don’t have time for another subject in my homeschool day. I’m already swamped teaching Bigs and Middles while trying to keep the Littles out of the Math-U-See blocks!
But ASL could actually help you solve the Homeschooling-with-Little-Ones dilemma. Here’s how:
I used to have each of my Bigs “teach” my Littles an arts-and-crafts class to keep them busy, while the other Big had one-on-one instruction. This met with success for some time, but as the novelty wore off, I wore myself out making sure the arts bin was always fully stocked with interesting new dollar-store activities. And that’s not even taking into account the mess they left for me! (My Bigs are really still Middles.)
Sending one of the Bigs to practice ASL with the Littles is another matter entirely. No messy materials, no planning on my part. They simply engage in a fun and top-secret “spy language” conversation.
10. You can tell your children to sit down and be quiet in church without saying a word!
This was a completely-unforeseen perk of learning ASL, but has become one of my favourite benefits. I can tell my child to “turn around, sit down and be quiet” without making a sound. Okay, so maybe you can do that with a Mom-Look. But show me the Mom-Look for , “Pass your brother the blue notebook in the diaper bag, give me the receiving blanket and please don’t drop your Bible on the floor again!” And when you have a small child who is really doing a great job keeping still, you can give some positive reinforcement without whispering yourself: “Good girl, Annie!” If you do family-integrated church, this is priceless.
11. It’s time well spent.
You will learn something that you will never forget — (can you say that about Charlemagne or Champlain? I really hope so, actually. We spent a lot of time on Charlemagne!) And you may even open a door towards an interesting option for career opportunities for your children.
The year that you began learning ASL is a year you will look back on as one which really expanded your family identity. You are creating fun, laughter-filled memories, as you all experience each other in new ways.
12. It doesn’t have to cost a penny.
We started with Signing Time and My Smart Hands videos on Youtube, and then moved on to Lifeprint courses with Bill Vicars. These are all great resources. Bill Vicars offers a full introductory 15-week course for free on his website.You can really learn a lot without spending a penny on curriculum.
**I am not an affiliate, simply a happy consumer of the material above.**