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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: Learning for Little Ones: Sign Language

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Learning for Little Ones: Sign Language

Having a background in American Sign Language, both interpreting and working in deaf and hard of hearing classrooms, I knew years before DH and I were even married that I would use sign language with my children "one day". 2007 brought with it that "one day"! Well before DS was ready to begin signing himself, I began using signs like "all done", "more", and "milk". Now my one year old uses them regularly (though not always perfectly).

Signing with your babies, toddlers, and children can have many advantages. The main advantage is giving your little ones the gift of communication before their little mouths are capable of making words and learning to talk! You reduce the need for screaming or crying for every little thing. As they become more comfortable with signs, and begin to use more and more of them, you can easily communicate with them, understanding their needs, or giving them a chance to tell you something. You can take some of the guess work out of knowing whether your toddler wants a cracker or a cup of milk. You can help resolve some frustration when your little one wants to tell you about the dog he sees outside but can't make you understand. Overall, you are giving your little ones the gift of further Independence!

Baby Signing Time is a resource I have found enjoyable to use (though we haven't used it as much as I would like). We found it at our local library and DS has enjoyed watching it from time to time (hmmm... I think I'll request it again... it's been a while). The DVDs incorporate fun songs, animation, and video of children signing into a fun way to learn signs! As your little ones learn the signs and mature, there is a series of Signing Time DVDs for them as they grow.

Currently we are working on teaching our little one the sign for "help" as well as a number of animals and colors (well... we're working on the animals and colors in general). :)

This Works for Me... but do you do sign language with your little ones? Any tips for this new mom and others?

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At January 23, 2008 at 2:49 PM , Blogger Nikki said...

I did not do sign language with my 20 month little girl, but I wish now that I had. She gets so frustrated when she knows what she wants but cannot communicate it. I will definitely check out that video for this next baby!

At January 23, 2008 at 2:58 PM , Blogger ~Babychaser~ said...

I recommend taking a look now for your toddler... it's never too late to learn!! She would probably love the videos... and if you don't need the first volumes, take a look a the others! She will probably learn quickly since she's a little older! :) Then she will be all set and ready to help teach the baby! :)

At January 23, 2008 at 5:13 PM , Blogger Nikki said...

I will look into it. I'm not sure that right now is the best time, but then when will be?

At January 23, 2008 at 6:46 PM , Blogger Irene said...

I love Signing Time...I used to Tivo it on Sunday mornings. Julia loved it and it was so fun to see her use the signs. It is also a good tool in teaching your child about deafness and opens the door to explain some other disabilities (I want my children to have sensitivity and love towards those with disabilities). Anyway, so ironic because just HOURS ago I was thinking about how you know sign and was wondering if you were going to include something about it in your blog!

At January 24, 2008 at 9:28 AM , Blogger Marva said...

Our boys are learning sign language. they are 22 months and a little behind speaking. It helps so much.

Like babychaser said, it's never too late!

At January 24, 2008 at 9:47 AM , Blogger Dawn said...

We did teach Judah several signs (more, all done, drink) and they have been very helpful! Our pediatrician in CA gave us a warning though. Don't overuse signs or your child could be delayed in using the actual words. If they can communicate with their hands, why should they have to say the word? We have that problem with Judah and the word drink. He can SAY it just fine, but he often refuses to and will just sign like crazy. Dr. C's grandaughter signed like crazy and had delayed speech until she spent the weekend with grandparents who didn't sign -- and she came back with several new words. I do think several important signs are great to teach, just make sure to not neglect the encouragement of using the words TOO.

At January 24, 2008 at 9:55 AM , Blogger ~Babychaser~ said...

It's true that you need to focus on both the signing and the saying of words! Most research has found that signing with your children will help them learn to talk earlier and better because they already have an understanding of how to communicate.

That said though, Spanish Morning is right... you need to be sure not to neglect saying the words also!

At January 24, 2008 at 1:15 PM , Blogger Laura said...

Yes, we used baby signs with the 3 older children and LOVED it! No more "UUUNH!" at dinner time. :) Now they could sign "more!" etc...

We found no trouble at all with speech delay - signs encourage comunication and as soon as they can they switch to verbal words because it is faster and more reaily understood by others outside the home.

A great book to check out that explains how baby signs were developed and the research that has gone into it is called "Baby Signs" by Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn. It discusses the time to begin and how to get your baby to understand the connection between the sign and the word.

We are now in the midst of teaching signs to our latest addition who is now 13 months old. We find it even more important this time because she has Down Syndrome and WILL most likely be delayed in speech anyway. We are excited to already have a way for her to communicate her ideas with us.

A couple examples - if you don't mind my comment being so long:

She can sign for drink and has already begun to say a verbal word for that now. She has made up her own sign (another perk of teaching this concept to babies) for singing or music and uses it to request us to sing to her. Such fun!!

Thanks for the tip on the DVD's. I will certainly check for them at the library!

At January 25, 2008 at 7:46 PM , Blogger ohAmanda said...

Baby Signing Time is my favorite! I just love every bit of it. My daughter is 2 now and she started signing around 12 months. We still use it every day even tho' she is very verbal.


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