Recently, we posted an article explaining some fundamentals for baby sign language . In this post, we provide you with more tips and advice to ensure you have a successful and rewarding experience teaching your baby sign language.
Make Signing a Family Affair
One of the most important factors for success in signing with your baby is whether or not others are involved in the process. If you are like most parents, lots of people take part in caring for your child on a daily basis. These people play a key role in the development of your child. Most children have regular contact with other family members. In our family, we could not get by without regular help from wonderful grandparents. Make signing a “family affair” and get the whole family involved in the process (especially Grandma and Grandpa).
In many homes today, both parents work full time, while the child is at daycare. Baby will have a huge advantage in learning sign language if his daycare workers are involved in the process. Baby’s daycare workers and babysitters are part of his extended family. Make sure your child’s extended family is aware that you are teaching him to sign and show them the signs you are working on with your baby. In the least, they should know some of the basic signs he uses on a regular basis and be willing to be involved in teaching those signs. If they refuse to participate with signing, consider finding a new daycare or sitter. As for your actual relatives, insist they take part in the teaching process. If Grandma is watching baby, she needs to know when baby is “all done”. Otherwise, baby will be confused as to why Grandma doesn’t understand him.
Perceive Baby’s Perception
A baby is constantly seeing and perceiving new things. For better success with signing with your, you should be alert to your baby’s perceptions. If you notice what your baby is perceiving, you will know when and what to sign. By the time his eyes and gazes start to connect with yours, baby is ready to begin signing. Get down on your baby’s level, literally and figuratively. If you are aware of what your baby perceives, you will be a better teacher (and caregiver).
Your baby has different types of perceptions, each presenting a chance for a new sign. Your baby may have a need or want to express a feeling or desire. For example, if your child finishes drinking his milk, he may “express” that he wants more. The moment that you recognize this perception is a great time to sign more. Sometimes, it is clear that your baby perceives you. You and your child may look at each other at the same time. When you make this type of contact with your baby, he is receptive to what you have to say. Recognize this as an opportunity to introduce a sign. At other times, it will be clear that you and your baby are perceiving the same object. For example, you may both be focused on the family dog. Obviously, this is great time to sign the word dog. One technique to help direct what your child perceives is to use a sign in front of the object you are signing about. Or, you can even sign with the object on your baby’s body!
As with all activities, a key element for success with signing with your baby is attitude. As the caption says, Have Fun! Get excited and have a good time with your baby when you are showing him a sign. Teaching your child how to sign is more about attitude and persistence than any scientific technique. If you recognize teaching opportunities, and you stick with it, your baby will be making signs before you know it. So don’t get frustrated if baby is not signing back to you right away. Remember, every child is unique and every child learns and responds at his own pace.
Communication with your baby should be intuitive and natural. You don’t need a book to communicate with your child. Trust your instincts and be expressive when you communicate with your child. Match your expression with your sign. Children respond as much to emotions and facial expressions as to anything that may be verbalized. And don’t get frustrated if your baby does not use the perfect technique. Rather, recognize what he is trying to say and applaud him for it. The process should be fun for both you and baby. And he will refine his technique as he continues to develop.