COMMUNICATION- CREATING A “VOICE.”
Everyone wants to communicate with their child as soon as possible; to hear their individual “Voice”. This is possible through sign language! It’s a skill baby can acquire much earlier than vocalisation of words. So why not take advantage of it and talk to your child?
I began signing with the twins long before they could understand it or put it into practice. For example, before breastfeeding, I would sign and say “Milk”. They caught on quickly and were copying the milk symbol – opening and closing your fist several times – as soon as they could do the movements. Then when they began eating solids, we started with “More” and “All done” as signs we shared to talk to each other.
MINIMIZE CRYING AND FRUSTRATION
I think I’ve managed to minimise crying and frustration by using sign language many times. The signs “More” and “All done” were especially helpful for meal-time. I was able to learn when they were finished, and what they enjoyed best when introducing new foods. It worked so much better than just crying.
Advice: It’s ok to sign in ways that are best for the child, it doesn’t have to be perfect form, and they will be able to use it confidently.
LESS GUESSING AND MORE ASKING
I wondered like other moms out there if they would favour signing over speech, and if it would delay vocalisation; but it has done the opposite as I always vocalise the word when I sign. Just today I asked my son to say “Thank you”, and he said it clear as day – but he also signed it perfectly (with no prompting from me). This shows that he has put two and two together and he isn’t favouring one method of communication over the other. My daughter is communicating differently and is saying some words now without signing them. She says “More” a lot but doesn’t always sign it, as she knows I understand what she is saying through speech. When she vocalises, she is naturally moving more towards just speaking the words, as for her it is less effort on her part than what’s involved in doing both.
I have found that signing has greatly benefited my children’s early communication. It has opened doors of understanding that were beyond their developmental milestones and been incredibly helpful in daily interactions. Some of the most useful, practical, and best words they’ve learned are “Diaper,” which has really helped with changes; “Please” and “Thank you”, which have helped to support teaching manners; as well as “book”, which is used many times throughout the day in our house. We’re currently working on “Help”, “Hungry”, “Thirsty”, “Car”, “Sleep”, “Cereal”, “Cheese”, and several others as they expand their vocabulary, both in signing and oral language.
LEARNING THROUGH DIFFERENT SYLES
There are mixed reviews out there on signing with your child before speech is a skill. Some claim there is little to no impact on verbal learning and development. But infant signing allows you to create a language-rich, interactive, and engaging environment for your child and offers precious one-on-one time daily. Even if signing doesn’t improve overall cognitive development as compared to non-signing, it allows for children to express themselves and show their intelligence much sooner. If anything, it is a straightforward and non-stressful learning activity that can engage your child. Why would you not consider it?
I also believe that signing is invaluable as an inclusive form of communication. As our children grow up, I want them to be accepting and welcoming to all their playmates. If they meet a child with a hearing loss who signs, how wonderful would that be for them to have that bridge of communication? They don’t have to be fluent signers, just the basics alone would help to open the door to friendships that might otherwise be missed.
So now that I have you interested in signing with your non-verbal or somewhat verbal child – “Where can I learn,” you ask?