Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guest Post: Is My Baby Too Young to Learn Signing?

I took a bunch of sign language classes when I was in college and had seriously considered getting my masters degree in deaf education, but ultimately went for my Special Ed degree. So when Misty Weaver, the chief editor Baby Sign Language, contacted me about a guest post on sign language I was all about it. Here it is and I hope you enjoy it.

Is My Baby Too Young To Learn Signing?

Is your baby too young to start to learn http://www.babysignlanguage.com/">Baby Sign Language ? The short answer is: No. You can start signing with your baby from birth – some moms even begin to learn the signs while baby is still in the womb! http://www.babysignlanguage.com/">Baby Signing is a great early activity for Mom and baby to do together, and a great way to make new friends during those sometimes lonely first few months. Because Mom needs to learn the signs first – and then repeat them lots and lots to baby – it doesn’t matter too much if your baby is very young when you first start signing. She will soon pick up the signs and eventually sign back to you.

When To Start Signing
The sooner you start signing to your baby the sooner she will begin to communicate. If you have an older baby, you can still begin to sign with her at any time. Even when your child has started to say a few simple words you may find that learning to sign helps her with her communication. But beginning when baby is young will give you a head start.

How To Start With Baby Sign Language
Pick a few simple signs, such as Mommy, Daddy and Milk, and use these signs over and over whenever you say the word or encounter the object. Repetition is really important, as is choosing signs which are interesting to your baby. Food and important people are great starter signs as they capture your baby’s interest right away. Use the sign and say the word clearly, with good eye-contact. With older babies you can also use flash cards to help if the object of the sign is not present.

When Will My Baby Start Signing?
Be patient and don’t expect your baby to start signing immediately. Encourage all her efforts at signing, even if you don’t recognize the sign baby is trying to make. Most babies over the age of six months will need about two months of exposure and repetition of a sign before they begin to use it. So if you start signing with your baby when she is seven months old, she will most likely be using one of your favorite signs by the age of nine months. Research shows, however, that the younger you start the sooner your baby will be signing back.

How To Develop A Baby’s Signing Vocabulary
When your baby has mastered her first signs you can begin to introduce new ones. It’s a good idea to stick to groups of similar ideas or objects when introducing something new, for example food signs, or colors, or animals. Remember, make it fun and repeat, repeat, repeat. Encourage all your baby’s efforts at making the signs. Only introduce a few new signs at a time, and continue with these for around two months.

Where Can I Find Resources To Help Me?
There are loads of resources online for you to use at home. Take a look here for free baby signing downloads and how-to video clips. Remember – have fun, repeat and encourage. These are your steps to success no matter how young your baby.

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Jenn said...

Great post. I'm going about teaching my daughter sign language in a completely unscientific way ... basically, teaching her whatever I can when my hands arent' full! lol ... she knows ball and ceiling fan at 10-months-old. I guess I need to work on some of the basics too. Thanks!

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