CHICAGO — A day care in Bucktown has been using sign language to amplify communication skills in infants and toddlers.
The Learning Experience, located in the 2600 block of North Jones Street, starts teaching American Sign Language to infants as early as 6 weeks old.
“Everything has to do with repetition,” said teacher Jessica Zaragoza. “The more frequently the teachers are doing it, they start picking up everything we do, everything we role model in the classrooms, they starting picking up and doing at home. So why not teach them sign language if it’s an easier way for them to communicate with us?”
Obviously, 6-week-old infants are not going to pick up ASL right away, but since babies are “sponges,” the signs come easier for them later on.
“We start very simple like ‘milk’ and ‘mom and dad,'” Zaragoza told WGN News. “You don’t see it automatically, but over time they start signing and we start seeing their fine motor skills develop.”
Toddlers aren’t known as the best for conflict resolution, but The Learning Experience said sign language has helped the kids express themselves to one another.
“Sometimes the frustration that they build, they don’t know how to say it so they use sign language to say ‘I’m hurt, stop I don’t want to play’ — it’s amazing to see what the kids are picking up,” Zaragoza said.
Zaragoza said she has heard from parents that the sign language has helped ease communication at home.
The Learning Experience offers sign language at their other locations. WGN News was at their Gurnee location last week for a special Hawaiian surprise for a 5-year-old girl battling a degenerative disorder.