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Top 5 Activities for Early Childhood Development – Part One

All new parents wonder what they can do to help bring out the best in their children. I have come across so many different early childhood development programs that it can be quite overwhelming for new parents to know what they should get into. Early childhood development programs are both costly and time consuming. In a Utopian world, parents would be able to do them all with their children. Unfortunately, it isn’t a Utopian world and we need to be selective about the programs we choose.

If I could go back to the time when my own children were infants and choose the programs for them all over again, these are the ones I would choose:

Sign Language

With all the benefits that Sign Language offers, I honestly can’t think of a reason not to Sign with your kids. I would also start this as young as possible. Sign Language is easy to learn and it’s fun.

Studies have shown the Signing has numerous benefits including:

  • More rapid development of language skills compared to children who do not learn to sign
  • Helps to establish critical social skills
  • It acts as a second language which provides bilingual advantages in future
  • Facilitates communication between parent and child and improves cooperation
  • Provides infants with a means of communicating their needs and thus reducing frustration and tantrums
  • Enhances bonding between parent and child
  • Fun physical activity that helps to develop self-esteem in children
  • Provides additional benefits when taught to special needs children
  • Increases IQ points between 8 to 13 points which has long lasting effects

There are many Sign Language books available to help you get started, but I prefer watching videos because it is easier to see how to Sign the word properly. There are many Sign Language programs and DVDs that you can choose from, but the only one I’ve tried is Signing Time and the kids and I love it.

Even though my son can speak at a hundred words a minute, we still watch Signing Time together and listen to the songs in the car. We sign the words to each other and we have a lot of fun singing his favorite songs over and over. Although you don’t need Signing Time to teach your kids how to Sign, I like the program because it is a fun way to learn and teach Sign Language.

Aside from Signing Time, I also use ASL Pro.  It is a free online Sign Language dictionary that teaches you how to sign words with short video clips. Whenever I forget how to sign a word or if there is a word we use often but don’t know the sign for it, I will look it up on ASL Pro then teach it to the kids. Click herefor a list of other free Sign Language resources that you can use.

An easy way to get started with Sign Language is to look up how to sign a few common words that your child is interested in and use those signs whenever you say the word. For example, if your child loves eating bananas, you can sign banana as you ask, “Would you like to eat a banana?” Or if your child loves looking at fish, you can sign fish as you say, “Let’s go look at the fish!” As you get familiar with these signs, look up more signs and introduce those to your child.



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This article originally appeared on Education Destination Malaysia. To read more about the top 5 activities for early childhood development, please click here.