Tuesday, August 9, 2011

guest post: baby sign language

Baby Sign Language as a Family Experience
Who says Baby Sign Language is just for babies? We know many families who have incorporated sign language for babies into their family’s routine and here are a few activities; methods and lessons learned that we’d like to share from those experiences.

Sibling teaching sibling
Just because this is your second or third baby doesn’t mean you can’t start now. Just like it is never too early to start teaching baby to sign, it is also never too late. Older siblings can have loads of fun learning to sign along with baby and you. They can help by picking out a new sign of the week or day, by playing teacher and demonstrating the signs on the baby sign language flashcards, or even helping read storybooks and incorporate the signs. And just like baby sign language has been shown to bond babies and parents, the same applies for siblings. While they won’t always agree on which movie to watch or which board game to play, you’ll marvel at the moments when you catch those kiddos playing sign that animal. 

Teaching numerous children
While a little competition is encouraging for some children, make sure you cheer on all the children and babies you are teaching. It is tempting to get excited when baby starts to sign, but don’t forget the toddlers and older siblings who have been learning and doing the signs right alongside you. Make sure they know that they have contributed to baby’s success too!

Also keep in mind that there is no cookie cutter method to learning sign language. Just like every child is unique, you will find that one child may need a different approach than another. Babies will learn at their own pace, too. Just because your first baby was signing at 7 months, doesn’t mean you should give up when baby number two is 9 months old and still not showing interest. She may suddenly surprise you and sign her way to asking for fruit instead of veggies for dinner one evening.

Making BSL a family affair
We’ve heard much success about the ease of getting the siblings on board, but what about when the grandparents are skeptics, or only one parent wants to commit to learning and teaching BSL? Our advice – Don’t be discourage, but also don’t push. Select your few starting signs and practice, practice, practice. Let baby start signing back and that will be all the convincing the rest of the family, caregivers and friends need. And when they ask where they can learn more, send them to babysignlanguage.com!

Mey Lau

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