Five "Keep It Simple" Rules for Signing with Babies and Toddlers
After signing with my children, and now with my four grandchildren, as a way to give them a communication skill, as well as a fun and playful activity, I have come to wonder why everyone, with children, are not signing? There are many answers but the one I want to address right now is the belief that you “have to know sign language” in order to do it. It must somehow be your second language. Though knowing sign is helpful it is absolutely not needed. In fact studies have shown that children benefit equally from signers who are fluent or just using ASL words as part of everyday life.
I believe that there are five basic “keep it simple” rules that will help anyone wishing to use sign language with babies. Following these rules you will find that signing is not complicated, will fit easily into your everyday life and give your child the gift of early language.
Keep It Simple Rule #1. Begin with simple and meaningful words that will open the communication door for your baby and allow them to express their wants and needs. There are 5 key words that will help you begin signing. These words are eat, more, all done, milk (used for bottle), and hurt.
Keep It Simple Rule #2. Be Consistent. Now that you have your first ASL signs, the cornerstone to the whole process is to be consistent. Every time you say more, eat, all done, milk or hurt be sure and also sign them as you say them.
Keep It Simple Rule #3. Have your child’s attention. When signing, because it is a visual language, be sure your child is focused on you. One of the best ways to do this is to sign at meaningful times in their lives, meal time, bath time, story time or song time.
Keep It Simple Rule #4. Sign the correct ASL sign for the word and not any variation that your child may do. Children often sing variations that you will understand but if you keep signing correctly, eventually they will produce the correct sign.
Keep It Simple Rule #5. Add more signs as you become more comfortable and especially as your baby begins to sign back. Choose signs that you not only want your child to learn but also signs that are of interest to them (bird, dog, mom, dad, I love you, etc.)
We Sign is America's #1 interactive DVD series featuring ASL, instruction and activities, for hearing children (babies, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary ages) as well as for parents, teachers and other caregivers who wish to bring signing into the lives of their children. The Series has won over 50 National awards and has been highly acclaimed for over 15 years.