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Kay Rush, in her article, “Using Sign Language in High/Scope Programs,” in High/Scope Extensions (Summer 2005; www.highscope.com), notes that teaching all preschool children sign language assists them in literacy and learning a second language. She observes…
“Signing is a kinetic act that stimulates activity in both the right brain, which is responsible for visual-spatial reasoning and long-term memory, and the left brain, which is responsible for processing language. When you are signing with hearing children, you are not only reinforcing their existing language, you are also giving them another way to express a concept they already know, thus creating another connection to that information in their brain. This process also helps to establish two storage places for language memory on the brain’s left side: one for the native language of the user, the other for sign. So children who use both spoken language and sign language develop a built-in backup memory, storing the same word in two different ways in separate areas of the left brain….
“Using sign language increases children’s vocabulary in a relatively pressure-free manner. Research studies show hearing children who used sign language in their preschool classes scored better on vocabulary tests and attained higher reading levels than their non-signing peers.”
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