So 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.
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: