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Purchase Kids Learn Sign Language

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- Kids in Purchase had the opportunity to learn the basics of sign language Friday afternoon at the Purchase Free Library.

Sign language teacher Caren Frankel taught the children the basics of signing, which included how to not only sign the alphabet but how to apply it to other words as well. Frankel, who has been teaching sign language for about 30 years, said that she has taught both children and adults but the children seem to pick it up quicker.

“Children are just sponges when it comes to sign language,” Frankel said. “It’s not really much different than learning a spoken language. It’s just a different way of learning.”

Frankel had previously taught the class at libraries in Armonk and Chappaqua but never before in Purchase. She said something as simple as learning the alphabet in sign language can be applied to everyday life. She encourages children to practice sign language while with their parents. For example, if the car a child is riding in stops at a stop sign, the child can apply their knowledge of sign language by signing “stop,” as the vehicle does just that.

“Sign language exposes you to things that are in your everyday life,” Frankel said. “It’s fun and helps with a child’s reading comprehension and improves their learning of other spoken languages as well.

Frankel gave an example of how sign language is applied in the classroom at schools. She said that some teachers will have kids use the sign for the letter ‘T’ instead of raising and waving their hand around to get their attention. Frankel said that this helps classes run more smoothly and reduces the potential for interruptions.

“Kids will see how other people see the world when they are learning sign language,” Frankel said.

The sign language program was made available through the Friends of the Purchase Free Library. Janine Gresham, a member of the “Friends” said that the group’s goal is to have people using the Purchase Free Library.

“We encourage everyone in our community to enjoy it,” Gresham said.

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