Tuesday, 18 October 2011
These Little Hands Can Say So Much!
Have you heard of baby sign language?... I LOVE it!
We used baby sign language with Rascal and have just started to see results with Wee Man.
When we first told the Dutch Grandparents that we were doing baby sign language with Rascal, they were totally unimpressed. "But why would you do that, its such fun when they learn to speak" we were told. We then went to Holland to visit. It took about 30 seconds for them to be totally won over by Rascal and her baby sign language. Any time that new family members came to see us, Oma would proudly show them "and she does this when she wants food and this when she wants water..."
There is a worry among many parents that by teaching baby sign language, you take away the need to learn to speak. On the contrary. We found that Rascal learnt from an early age that she could clearly and easily communicate with us. It made her more excited about learning to speak! By the age of two Rascal had over 200 words and her vocabulary continues to amaze us! What baby sign language did was take away much frustration.
I love seeing the differences in how my children use baby sign. Rascal waited until she was certain that she could sign perfectly before she started using it, Wee Man has a go with rough approximations.
It didn't occur to Rascal that she could ask for things using baby sign, but when we asked if she wanted something, she would sign back when she wanted something and would not sign if she didn't want it.
Wee Man has only been signing for a short amount of time but at 10 months of age has already learnt four signs and has worked out that its fun to ask for things. For example, this morning he was infinitely proud of himself when he started signing "more" really enthusiastically. I asked him "more what?" and he grinned. He then whacked his hand to his open mouth. "More food?" I asked and his little face totally lit up- it was so cool to see and so exciting to be communicating with him in such a great way.
There are various different versions of baby sign language as they are loosely based on the sign language of each country. We use the New Zealand version.
If you are tempted to give baby sign language a good place to start is Baby Sign Language for Hearing Babies by Karen Warburton. When you first start, be patient as it may take up to a few months for your baby to do their first sign (depending on the age that you start to introduce signs). Consistency is also paramount. Find something that is important to them (Wee man LOVES his sippy cup with water, so it was not a surprise that his second sign was "water") animal signs can also be a good starting point.
Keep it fun, don't pressure them and enjoy the interaction. If you want to know more, I'm happy to share more of our experiences with baby sign.
Oh and the first time that you see big sister signing to little brother, your hearts will melt...