By Christian De La Rosa
Fox 5 San Diego Reporter
4:06 PM AKDT, October 9, 2012
SAN DIEGO - Parents trying to have their toddlers to be read-and-write ready before kindergarten should consider a sign language class, educators said.
Multiple studies have already shown toddlers who learn sign language can learn how to read and write faster than those who do not.
Child Development Education instructor Kristin Emerson-Powers teaches children as young as 6-month-olds how to sign at the Harold Ballard Center in Old Town. Her students don't have to be hearing impaired or mute.
Toddlers who learn sign language symbols for “hurt,” “more,” and “I want” help them communicate with their parents before they learn how to say their first word, according to Emerson-Powers.
“They learn so much at such an early age, before they can even tell us in a spoken language what they mean,” said Emerson-Powers. “The goal is to grow their vocabulary before they can even speak."
Being read-and-write ready isn’t the only benefit, for many parents, sign language has made things like the "terrible two’s" smoother, she said.
“Many times before children speak we don’t know what it is they want and we can’t figure out why they’re having a temper tantrum,” said the educator.
“One mom took her child to the doctor saying her daughter had an earache and the doctor asked her 'how do you know?' She said 'she signed hurt close to her ear, the child could still not speak,'" said Emerson Powers.
The sign language class for parents and their toddlers is offered by the San Diego Continuing Education System and funded by the San Diego Community College District.