Sign Language has become popular over the past ten years as a way for parents and their young children to learn to “listen” to each other in a new way. Signing is a tool for families to use with their babies in order to communicate with their caregivers before they can speak. Many families are amazed that their baby begins to sign back to them after having signed a certain sign over and over again for just a few weeks. Babies brains are ready to learn and primed for language, either spoken or signed.
Developmentally, babies can use their hands to communicate much earlier than they can produce the sounds needed for speech. Studies show that families who teach signs feel less stressed because their baby cries less than babies from families that do not sign. This is because babies feel less frustrated when they can express their needs in a way that their caregivers understand. Also, families that sign with their babies and young children feel that they bond with their baby more quickly and create stronger relationships with their children than families who do not teach signs.
In learning any new language it is important to practice with other users of the language. Being together in a face to face signing situation will help you to remember signs more easily, help your child to see the turn taking of natural language as you model signing with others and the connections you make will stay with you longer than watching a video or learning signs from a book. Try signing a favorite song or simple story that you and your child love. Make sure to use key signs that are important to you and your baby over and over again throughout the daily routine and your little one will be signing with you in no time.
Thank you to our Sign Language Class Facilitator, Nadine Miller of Sign Out Loud, for providing this guest post.