American Sign Language
We use American Sign Language (ASL) to enhance our language arts curriculum, facilitate communication and beginning language and reading skills. Babies and toddlers will usually sign earlier and have a larger Sign Vocabulary than spoken vocabulary. Using ASL with babies and toddlers can help minimize some of the communication frustrations.
We select a small sign vocabulary (for example: milk, mommy, daddy, more, all done, pain, gentle, sleep) and use the sign every time we say the word. Our children are also taught basic descriptive words (i.e. more, slow, colors), classroom materials, (i.e. paper, crayon, book), action words (stop, paint, come, sit, drink) body parts and objects (i.e. bus, table, bird, head, mouth), etc.
Early Steps Learning Center has developed our Sign Language program using the suggestions in Toddler Talk by Joseph Garcia, the precursor to Sign With Your Baby.
Teaching a foreign language to young children is very different from teaching older kids or adults. For our children, we focus on activity and interaction, rather than memorization and rules. At Early Steps Learning Center we have adopted the Total Physical Response method, which is basically a belief that children learn by ‘doing’ and real conversation.
Daily in our classrooms our teachers use a variety of Spanish language materials developed for young children. Story books, poems, songs, comics, puppet shows, arts and crafts, and games are all ways to teach our children Spanish. Integrating Spanish into everyday activities brings the language to life and makes learning easy and fun!
Toddlers and older are offered an optional weekly 1 hour series, following the “Discovering God Series” of books by Philip W. Rogers. We identify with the mission statement of the Discovering God books, “Shaping the lives of children by teaching them that they are a unique Creation made by a unique Creator”.
Some of our kid’s favorite visitors have been from Lake Farm Park, Fire Department, Police Department, the Traveling Dentist, a Librarian, and a real train conductor.