Thursday, September 3, 2015

Including American Sign Language in Your Homeschool

ASL stands for American Sign Language and is the predominant language used by the Deaf community.  It is also used by those who have hearing impairment and speech impairments/delays.  It is a considered a real language and holds many benefits for those who learn to use it.

In our house, we started learning ASL when my oldest child was 3.  Signing Time, a show that teaches children (and adults) American Sign Language through visuals, repetition, and song came on our local PBS station.  Eventually, I became so interested in ASL that I began purchasing their videos.  Now, they have online streaming, and we have been using Signing Time for over 7 years in our home.  My children know an estimated 500+ signs.  It is my goal to continue learning ASL because it could have lifelong benefits for them and the way they interact with others.

Why Teach American Sign Language
There are many reasons why it is beneficial for you to incorporate ASL into your homeschool, but here's just a few:

*It will help your children develop a second language.

Learning a second language will open a door of communication with a larger scope of people.  It would enable your children to communicate with those in the Deaf community, as well as possibly communicating with children with special needs such as autism.  (These children would also benefit greatly from learning ASL.)

*It will help them retain important information.

By adding the kinesthetic element, with the movement of hands, children will have that additional component of learning.  When kids are moving they are learning.

*It makes learning fun!

Most children love to learn signs.  And when learning is fun, they will internalize it and remember it.

*It helps them develop early literacy skills.

Through fingerspelling and sight word identification, children who learn ASL can increase their vocabularies and enhance their ability to read.

Ways to Incorporate ASL in Homeschool

There are many ways to include ASL in your homeschool, and it can be incorporated into almost any subject area.  All you have to do is to teach the sign for words included in the lessons.  Here are a few suggestions to get your started.

Bible-Sign key words in your Bible stories and scriptures your family might be memorizing.
Ex:  If your family is learning about the story of Moses, the baby in the basket, you could learn the sign for the words river, baby, water, sister, mother, etc.

Language Arts- As you read aloud to children, incorporate signs. 
Example:  My children like the story Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin.  Some repeating words you could sign in that book would be “yes, pumpkin, duck, nice, find, and no.” You can also use fingerspelling as part of your spelling curriculum. Teaching children the ASL alphabet will give them that added component which will help retain the spelling of a word.  They can see it and feel it.

Math-When teaching early counting skills, you can incorporate the ASL sign for the numbers 1-5. It would be much like using manipulatives because you are using your fingers. You can only do this with 1- 5 because the numbers beyond five won’t match the quantity you are counting. You can still continue to incorporate ASL with counting because it does add that additional element of learning.

Science- I think science is an especially fun subject where you can incorporate ASL signs.  You can use signs when you are teaching zoo animals, seasons, weather, and more!

To include American Sign Language across your curriculum, you, as the parent, are going to have to learn it yourself, which is a wonderful way to encourage more family time when you are learning something together.  I learned alongside my children, and it made it easier to use that form of communication in our home.

ASL can become something that flows naturally with your homeschool day.  You can even use it during household chores!!

There are many American Sign Language Resources you and your family can use as you incorporate ASL into your homeschool.  My favorite is of course Signing Time.  There are two series of videos, and they are working on a third, Signing Time Sentences to expand children’s knowledge of ASL.
If you have high school students, a good resource is  They currently offer 4 courses, and your high schooler can get course credit for them.

Do you currently use American Sign Language in your home and what benefits have you seen?

*Note* I am not an expert in American Sign Language as it is not my first language.  I am still learning.  If any of the above information is incorrect, feel free to contact me.  Thank you.


  1. I took ASL 1 and 2 in college and I fell in love with it. I have seen more and more people teaching their babies signs like more, please and all done. It's such a beautiful language!

    1. It is a beautiful language! I would like to keep learning!