The wonder that is Baby Signing

baby signingSo in my quest to give my daughter the best start in life, as well as keeping myself entertained (and admittedly slightly sane) during my maternity leave I set out on a mission to try whatever groups and activities I could find. Reading up on things to do I came across the concept of baby signing (sign language), a wonderful idea that introduces babies and toddlers to the concept of sign language in order to enhance their ability to communicate and the development of their language skills.

Having watched in horror as children have meltdowns because they desperately want to ask for something or tell their parents how they feel but can’t, I thought the concept of baby signing was amazing! I was sold immediately and signed up numerous friends to accompany me and my daughter to a local class.

I have to say, I had a brilliant time and even though my daughter was only 6 months old she was captivated! Each baby signing class lasted around an hour and involved lots of songs and props, as well as handouts to learn key signs or rhymes. After doing two terms of baby signing I was totally sold I bought a CD of the songs and an obligatory twinkle twinkle star to use. I had no hesitation in breaking into song and signing with my mummy friends and the CD became and still remains a firm favourite with my little girl.

With the introduction of Mr Tumble on CBeebies our lives were complete! My daughter just loves it and has picked up even more sign language through the programme. I have to sing the Mr Tumble “Goodbye” song daily, as well as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and many others, and often over and over again, but watching her enthusiasm and the huge smile on her face makes it well worth it!

Many people might argue that encouraging your child to sign will make them lazy and reduce their willingness to speak and slow their language development.

However:

Quote taken from SIGN with your BABY Supporting Research . Northlight Communications

“Sign does not hinder language development in any way rather it fosters it. It picks up on the natural visual acuity young children possess and uses it to the child’s advantage. Remember that babies understand much more than they are able to say. Speaking is difficult. It requires the development of dozens of muscles in the face, mouth and tongue and coordination of these muscles with the flow of the breath over the vocal folds in the larynx. From a purely developmental point of view, babies achieve the ability to construct language with their hands at least six to twelve months earlier than they do with their vocal apparatus”.

“Dancing with Words” by Dr. Marlilyn Daniels

My daughter is approaching 18 months old and regularly uses sign language to communicate what she wants to me, and I have to say it really makes life easy! I’ve not as yet (touch wood!) had any major tantrums because I don’t understand her… I am sure I will at some point, I am not naive enough to think I won’t! However signing has just made everything fun and easier. I couldn’t recommend Baby Sign language more!

If you want to find out more about baby signing why not visit some of the links below:

Comments

  1. I love this post and you cite some great authorities. I’m in the US we use sign vocabulary based on ASL (American Sign Language). The results area amazing. My daughter is now 6 but still uses signs to communicate at times – mostly when her mouth is full of food or when she has hurt herself and is crying and can’t get the words out. She will also opt to sign to me when she knows I’m not in hearing range but can see her. A perfect of example is when I’m watching her through the window and she’s wants a drink…it’s much more convenient to sign “MOMMY, WATER PLEASE” than to come inside and get it herself! Smart kid, LOL!

    As a mommy who has an “older” signer, I can certainly attest to the fact that signing in no way hindered her speech development. As a baby she was impatient and wanted to communicate and be understood. Signing gave her the ability to do that effectively. As her speech developed, IT became the more expeditious way to get her needs met so it naturally became her preferred communication tool. As she approached her 2nd year, her speech and language development far surpassed those of her peers and we were often stopped by people asking how old she was because her ability to communicate was so outstanding. We have no doubt that signing played a large part in this. I became a baby signing instructor because I saw for myself the proof that signing benefits communication and enhances language ability and wanted others to experience this as well. I hope that your visitors with small babies will read your post and consider doing a little sign language with their babies as well.

    • Hi Amanda thank you for your post that is lovely to hear. I’ve been so tempted to become an instructor myself! I have added a link to your organisation. Hope that is ok. Best wishes

  2. baby signing was the best thing I’ve ever done with my daughter. she made her first sign at 9mnths and now at 18mnths is a proper little chatter box forming short sentences and copying everything we say. it definatley didn’t hinder her speech. thank you for introducing it to us both :)

  3. Helen Webster says:

    I loved reading your article. I too signed with my little girl when she was a baby and loved it so much I bought a signing franchise and started my own classes. I love seeing the little ones understanding and using the signs to tell their mummies and daddies what they want:) I run Talkfirst classes in the north west and would welcome any one to come along for a free demo and meet Dexter the signing puppet xx

    • Thank you so much for your kind reply. I am glad you enjoyed the post and am really pleased to hear that you have taken such a positive step. I will be sure to send people in the north west in your direction! Please feel free to send me a link to Talkfirst and I’d be happy to add it to the post.

  4. great post. I did baby signing with my eldest and it was great when he first signed ‘milk’. All my children have been quite early talkers and I definitely think that their ability to communicate easily has lessened tantrums…I can only remember my eldest ever having one meltdown and that was because he was over tired. I think if he had taken longer to talk I would have carried on with the signing for longer than I did.
    x

    • I agree It took her a while to sign from when I did the course but she had obv picked it up (with CBeebies Something Special too). I think it really helped. Glad you enjoyed too xxx

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