We began signing with our children the day they came home. Actually, we started years earlier by signing with our nephews. Signing came very naturally to us, as we’d both taken ASL (American Sign Language) courses and had a keen interest in the language. It certainly didn’t hurt that I use basic sign daily at work.
I will start teaching my first Baby/Toddler Sign Language class at the end of the month. I am both scared and excited to teach this language I love to others. In preparation, this month’s Wordless Wednesdays will all focus on American Sign Language, and using ASL to help children communicate.
How do I start teaching my child sign language?
Babies and Sign Language gives some good examples:
When you begin teaching babies sign language, you should have complete attention from your baby. You can start with words for things that are commonly done or used involving the baby. These will be words like “eat” and “toy” and “milk” and “book”. Start with a few signs and try not to teach too much too soon.
Some parents start with only the need based words such as “eat” or “drink”. Other parents try to use words that generate baby excitement and interest like “dog”, “cat”, “bird”, etc – if your infant enjoys animals. You as the parent know your child best and can decide the best route to teaching Baby Sign Language.
When teaching babies sign language, try to use the sign every chance you get. When reaching for a book, reading a book, or putting a book away, sign for the word “book”. Hold the book in front of your baby making sure the she or he is looking first at the book and then your hand gesture. You are trying to get your child to not only make the sign but also connect the sign to the object.
When your infant begins signing, you can begin to add commonly used words. After baby has the basics down (such as “eat”, “more”, “milk”, “all done”, etc.) you can then start signing the words “Mommy” and “Daddy” and “apple” (or other favorite snacks/foods).