Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday-Baby Sign Language

As a prior pre-school teacher and day care worker, I was quite comfortable falling into the role of "Mommy". But I just want to share, that having a very strong willed toddler who lacks the verbal commands to dictate what it is that he desires off the counter top, has made me realize Toddler Mommy-hood is by far the hardest job I have ever had. Granted, I took care of babies and toddlers in the daycare; however, the key point was, I could send them home with parents!

So, what Works For Me? American Sign Language. I started teaching Little Dude sign language at 4 months (about the time I started some baby cereal with him) and slowly introduced 3 signs: eat, drink, and more.

He did not respond until he was about 7 or 8 months, but it is all about being consistent. It may feel silly, but do the signs, over and over and over....and over (all the while saying the words out loud too) For example: "Do you want more (sign) cereal? Do you want a drink (sign)?" Once you're child starts to respond to the signs, life gets TONS easier and the crying fits die down considerably simply because your child has found a way to communicate with you!

Now, Little Dude is 18 months old and has a verbal language of about 5 words, and a sign language of about 30, most of which are foods and drinks, which are the most helpful, but now it helps even more to keep adding words for him, like bath, book, poop, etc. The other day we went outside in the backyard, and Little Dude was all happy-then suddenly he came over to me and signed for water while saying "wa wa", so I immediately went inside and grabbed his water cup for him. Think though, about the meltdown we would've ended up having if he had not been able to communicate any other way than by crying because honestly, a lot of the verbal things he says I would not recognize on their own without the sign language to go along with it. So, without the sign, I would've thought something outside bothered him, brought him inside, and gone through a whole spectrum of things before stumbling upon "wa wa" as being what he wanted and needed.

I found the local library to have a vast source of differnet instructional sign language books geared towards teaching children, my two favorites were Baby Signs by Dr. Linda Acredolo and Dr Susan Goodwyn (this one had GREAT pictures to go with insructions) and Sign with your Baby by Joseph Garcia This one had great instructions on how to go about teaching and pictures of children doing the signs, which is motivating when your child is not responding yet, and a dvd that is awesome and I highly recommend, though you can buy just the book for much less or even better, check it out at your library for free.

You can also find local classes, though honestly, being consistent in your teaching will have better results than just taking an expensive class, so if you do the class be sure to keep up the signing after the class is done! Also, check out these links, they helped me a lot as resource guides:

American Sign Language
Sign Babies
Baby Signs

Teach Your Baby to Sign (online signing dictionary)
Signing with your Baby
Sign 2 Me
Handspeak: American Sign Language Dictionary

Babies and Sign Language

So, that is What Works For Me! Happy Signing to you! And if you have questions, feel free to leave comments or email.


ttelroc said...

My sister used sign language with her first child and she is due shortly with her second. I asked her if she thought that she would use sign language with this child and she enthusiastically said -Absolutely! Her first born learned signs & used them so fast it made my head spin.

Sign language for babies is a miracle language, that's for sure.

Have A Great Day!

Jeni said...

Sign language has helped us quite a bit, too! My girlie only knows a few signs - more, milk, all done, bye-bye - but knowing what she's wanting helps so much! (As I was typing that, she came and set her sippy cup on the keyboard and signed "milk.")

My girlie and I liked watching the Baby Einstein DVDs together - My First Signs and Baby Wordsworth both have signs for common things/needs/wants.

The Wade's said...

Our son Jackson has learned just a few signs (more, please, milk, eat, and we are working on thank you.) These few signs have eased so many tantrums in our house, and has made life so much easier. We love it!!

CC said...

I'm a Speech Pathologist and (soon to be) Baby Sign instructor. I couldn't agree more! As a matter of fact, I just wrote a post about that exact same issue today!! Check it out!

Ter said...

I grew up with a hearing loss, and I think it is amazing that so many hearing parents are teaching their hearing children how to sign. I grew up oral (verbal), no sign language, and while I'm glad I can speak, there were many times I wish I had known sign language as a child, it sure would've made communication easier. I learned it as an adult, though. :) Kudos to you!

BubblesandMoney said...

I taught all three of my children ASL when they were babies. We kept it up some as they were growing up. My daughter now 22 had to have a foreign language for her college degree. Her University offered and accepted ASL as her foreign lauguage. She did really well and enjoyed all the new signs she learned. It will be fun to see where the ASl may take her now.

Keep it up. We never know when we will be able to use it again.