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Sign Language for Kids

Why Start Teaching Sign Language When Your Children Are Young?

Many parents who want to introduce sign language for kids are unsure of the best age for kids to start learning. They may be afraid that, if they start too early, the child will not be able to learn and understand what the signs mean. Other parents worry that teaching a baby or toddler sign language may make them talk later or discourage them from practicing speech and using their words.

In fact, the opposite is true. Research has demonstrated that adding the visual and kinesthetic elements (American Sign Language) to verbal communication helped to enhance the vocabulary, spelling, and reading skills in the participating preschool children. This research was conducted by Dr. Marilyn Daniels, a professor of speech communication at Penn State University. Babies as young as 6 months can learn to make and understand basic sign language and communicate with others. By teaching the spoken word along with the sign, many parents find that their children learn to speak faster and more easily than many of their peers. If you are wondering when the best age is to learn sign language for kids, then the answer seems to be while they are only a few months old.

By starting at 4 to 6 months, you can help your baby communicate with you and begin learning sign language naturally and easily. Many children will make up their own signs, signals, and motions to communicate, but they might go unnoticed or the parents may not understand them. By teaching your child the correct signs to use, you will not only be giving them a good basis in another language that they can use to communicate with others as they grow, but also sharing a language with them before they are able to speak clearly. This usually makes both baby and parents happier and more frustrated, because a child can simply sign for “mommy” or “daddy” or “milk”, instead of growing upset and hoping that you will be able to decipher their cries.

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).