Teaching Your Baby Sign Language
Consistency is the key!
It is never too early to start teaching your baby sign language. Teaching them signs can make communication easier and can be a real joy. Sign language has been proven to be beneficial for young children for the development of their language skills. To ensure your baby learns sign language quickly, it is important to be consistent when teaching them.
I’ve had parents say to me, “I’ve been signing with my baby for months and have had no response.” I ask how often they are signing and they tell me, “I try to sign a bunch of things throughout the day… if I can remember.” Aha! That’s the problem, no consistency in their signing routine! How is your baby going to connect the sign to the word if they aren’t always used together? It will take your baby much longer to ‘get it’ if you aren’t consistent. I always tell parents to pick two-five signs that you are going to do EVERY TIME you say the word. It’s not for the baby’s sake, it’s for the parents. It is easy to remember to do two signs until you get in the habit of signing and your baby signs back. Once your baby signs back to you it will be easier to remember to show him signs because he will want to know them. It’s getting to the first sign that is the hardest for parents. Once your baby ‘gets’ that his or her sign means something and elicits a response then he will tend to pick new signs up faster.
Here are the top ten tips on how to be consistent when teaching your baby sign language:
1. Choose a few signs to use consistently – Pick simple signs that you consistently use and clearly demonstrate and vocalize so your baby can learn.
2. Talk as you sign – Use vocalization as you model and use the sign to allow your baby to associate the sign with a word.
3. Begin with the words your baby already knows. Start by teaching them the words related to things they already know to help them learn quicker.
4. Use visual cues – Show pictures or other real-life examples of objects and activities when teaching a sign.
5. Make it a family affair – Get the whole family involved in the signing journey so it becomes part of regular communication.
6. Be consistent with the motion of the signs. Make sure you show the same sign to your baby every time you use it.
7. Use sign language during everyday activities. Make it a part of your daily routine when teaching your baby and they will learn the signs quickly.
8. Be patient. Babies learn at different rates, be patient and support your baby as they learn the signs.
9. Encourage your baby with praise. Praise them when they learn a new sign correctly and celebrate their successes.
10. Stay positive and focused. Sign language teaching can be frustrating at times, but stay positive and be consistent when teaching and using sign language with your baby.
Following these tips will ensure you are consistent when teaching your baby sign language and will make the world of difference when helping your little one learn. Consistency is key to learn any language, and sign language is no exception. With consistency and patience, your baby will be able to communicate their needs quickly and easily with sign language.
So how do you begin?
As I said in a previous post I always suggest starting with MILK this is the sign that is easiest to teach because it is such a big part of a baby’s life in the beginning. Make sure that every time you offer a feed that you sign ‘MILK’, say to your baby, “Do you want MILK?” really emphasizing the word MILK in the sentence. Then when your baby is drinking you can sign MILK and say to her, “you are having MILK” again emphasizing the word being signed. Also, you can take her hand and gently open and close it to show her how it feels to make the sign. When you do that, say in an excited voice, “yes, that’s MILK”.