Sunday, December 7, 2008

What Would Motivate a Baby to Sign?

Excellent video for teaching baby to sign.

There are many reasons why a hearing baby would want to sign. While a child is still preverbal, if he knows the signs for the things he wants, likes or needs, he will be eager to use the signs to help fulfill his needs. If he wants his favorite truck, for example, but can’t say the word yet, he will use the sign in order to get his truck!

Infants are born imitators, and quickly learn that pleasing the adults brings them extra love and attention. When baby perceives that Mommy wants her to sign, she will sign as early as she can in order to get that hug and kiss and hear Mommy’s delighted praise.

Sign should be used as a normal part of daily activities, and ideally, it should be started when the baby is very young. For example, when feeding or giving the baby his bottle of milk, sign “milk” several times without expecting a response. Be sure the baby sees the bottle, then sees and hears you speak the word and make the sign. Be ready to do a lot of repetition without expecting baby to sign back to you at first. This is a lot of information for an infant to assimilate!

When she has been exposed to many signs over a period of weeks or months, gradually the child will come to understand that the hand motions have meaning, and with consistent exposure she will learn that the sign, the object and the spoken word are all connected. This is the basis of “language” – understanding the connection between the abstract word or sign, and the physical object.

Use this technique with other everyday objects and people: Mommy, Daddy, dog, cat, ball, toy, cookie, bed. If necessary, make a list of the everyday items baby encounters, and have the signs ready so you do not have to interrupt normal activities to look up the sign. Anticipate signs for words that might excite your baby: Grandma, bird, swing, car. If you are planning a trip to the zoo, plan ahead with sign too, and have ready some animal signs: monkey, giraffe, bear, bird, and others.

Be patient when teaching sign to your baby. Before you know it, those little hands will sign back to you. It may take some learning on your part to recognize your baby’s version of a sign, but what a thrill it will be when the two of you start to communicate in sign!

Video to help you teach your baby to sign
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1 comment:

WeeHands said...

Using sign language with babies (and toddlers) is a wonderful thing to do! Thanks for sharing!

Sara Bingham, WeeHands Founder
Author of The Baby Signing Book

“There are no hands so small that they cannot make a difference in the world." - Author Unknown