The world’s leading sign language program for hearing babies
Article by Jamie Solomon, Director of Baby Signs Malaysia and Certified Instructor of the Baby Signs(R) Program
for BabyBook (reprinted here with permission from Jamie Solomon)
Your baby’s crying and you don’t know why. She’s pointing to something and you don’t know what. You take her for a stroll in the mall, she’s looking excitedly around and you wonder what goes on in her mind. At times, you catch her trying to communicate with you through her body gestures but you can’t seem to figure it out.
You start to teach her to wave ‘bye-bye’, soon she catches on. You sing to her your favorite Children Songs and soon she mimics your actions. It’s all wonderful and cute, but “Parents, don’t just stop there”. Read on to find out how you can harness the ability in your child to communicate with you through sign language.
Get A Peek Into Your Baby’s Fast-Growing And Exciting World
For the past 9 months or so you have been carrying your baby. You eagerly anticipate the day she will be born. It’s coming soon. You hope she’s an easy baby to manage; a happy and contented one. You keep your fingers crossed.
Soon your beautiful bubbly bundle of joy arrives. The first thing you hear is her cry. Oh that sweet, beautiful cry. After a few days, weeks and months of knowing her, she continues to cry and it doesn’t seem to sound so sweet anymore. You don’t know what’s on her mind. You think to yourself, “Gosh, I wish she would just tell me!” She soon starts to whine, point, babble, and at times scream and she does it confidently, but you still don’t know what she wants.
If you think you have to wait till your baby can verbally communicate with you to talk to you and share with you what’s on her mind, you’re wrong. Babies as early as 7 or 8 months can communicate effectively with their parents, sharing with them their wants, needs, thoughts, ideas, memories and feelings. Sound unbelievable? It’s not!
Every infant goes through the stage where she is unable to articulate with words but yet feels, experiences and understands what goes on around her. Her choices for now are limited. With her speech production ability non-existent or limited, she has a few options: point, whine, cry and at times scream! She really has no choice. More often than not, this can be truly frustrating for parents, as well as the baby.
You can use a basic but powerful skill – your child’s hands, face and body to communicate with you. The mechanics involved in gesturing are simpler than that of speech production and so it is no surprise that babies can learn to sign earlier than they can speak.
As parents you don’t have to wait until your baby can talk to know what’s on her mind! Empower her today to communicate with you through sign language.
What Can Possibly Be On Their Minds?
Right from a tender age, parents are already teaching their baby so many things. You may point out a ‘car’ to your baby when a car zooms by and you may point out the colour ‘red’ when you’re eating an apple. Though your baby can’t yet speak, your baby is able to understand a whole lot of things. Ask him to get his ball and see him walk toward his ball bin.
While this seems to be reactive communication, why not empower your child so that he/she can proactively communicate with you? The next time you want to ask your child to ‘find his sippy cup’, let your child do the ‘talking’ and let him tell you when he is thirsty.
Signing Is Natural!
Some parents may find this to be quite a strange approach and others may not even believe that babies can actually do this. But think about it, have you ever taught your baby to wave “bye-bye” or shake his/her head for “no” or nod for “yes”? If your answer is ‘Yes’, then you are already teaching your baby to sign! This means that parents and babies have been signing to each other for many, many years!
But Will They Learn To Talk?
“If you encourage a baby to use signs, wouldn’t that slow down her speech development? Why would she bother with words?” This is the most common concern parents have. A study conducted by Dr Linda Acredolo and Dr Susan Goodwyn which began in the late 1980s showed that in test after test the signers were more advanced than the non-signers in language skills. They were learning to talk sooner, not later! Here’s how they like to explain it: Just as crawling doesn’t slow down walking, signing doesn’t slow down talking. In fact, it adds to a baby’s enthusiasm for doing so. They even discovered that the children who had used signs as infants scored significantly higher than the non-signers on IQ tests at age 8!
More Important Benefits
While signing has such positive effects on learning to talk and on intellectual development, the most important benefits are the emotional ones. Signing helps to: -
- Reduce tears, tantrums & frustration
- Allow babies to share their world
- Strengthen the parent-child bond
- Boost babies’ self-esteem and self-confidence
- Make learning to talk easier
- Stimulate intellectual development
As you will soon discover for yourself as you open this window into your baby’s mind, when you truly understand and communicate with someone, you feel more connected.
For more information, please visit www.babysignsmalaysia.com or contact Jamie at 012-3101704. Baby Signs Malaysia offers Baby Signs(R) Classes/Workshops and carries a range of exciting products to assist you in your signing adventure with your loved one.
Thanks Jamie for sharing with us. I’ve personally used baby signing before, and find that it is easy for both adult and child to learn. Children enjoy learning the signs, and can communicate their basic needs before they learn to speak.