Long before we got pregnant, Tyson and I used to joke that we should learn sign language so we could communicate with each other across a crowded room or, better yet, get us out of awkward social situations without offending our company.
When we found out that we were having a baby, the topic was brought up once again, but this time we were more serious about it. In doing my research, I’ve learned about the many benefits of signing with a hearing baby and toddler. Here are a few that peaked my interest:
–Promotes the development of language skills
-Reinforces language skills already developed
-Reduces frustration at not being able to express needs, thus reducing unexplainable emotional outbursts
-Develops understanding of language for communication of emotions
-Creates feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment
-May increase IQ
-Increases creative thinking
-Teaches a 2nd language that is formally and nationally recognized (ASL), developing part of the brain that can increase their abilities to learn other foreign languages
-Increases early literacy skills
-Teaches baby how to start (and participate in) a conversation
- As a baby shower gift, one of my co-workers gave us this sign language basics book that provides directions on when and how to sign to your child, plus over 300 ASL signs to help get us started. The best part is you don’t have to be fluent to obtain the benefits listed above – you just need to be persistent and consistent.
The nurse who taught our birthing class admitted she was a skeptic at first because her daughter was teaching sign language to her grandson who never appeared to pay any attention or show any interest in her communications. That was until he was about a year old; she saw him look up at the ceiling fan, raise his hand in the air and create a large circle over his head – the sign for fan. She became a believer at that point.
Tyson and I are having fun learning and quizzing each other on the proper signs from airplane to zebra and we look forward to signing with our daughter and learning more about the language ourselves. Afterall, we can still use those helpful skills per my previous mention.If you have had success signing with your infant and/or toddler, please share any thoughts and strategies that worked for you.