Even if your child is not hearing impaired, I would highly recommend introducing sign language to your baby. This gives your baby another way to communicate before they have the words to do so and can also be an important tool later on in life. Who knows what they might encounter in a work place or school setting where the situation may call for some sign language skills. Aside from giving your child an early means of communication, there are many benefits of teaching babies sign language.
Even if your child only knows a few signs or the alphabet, this can still be a huge help. For purposes of this post, I’m covering ASL or American Sign Language.
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I’m not sure where or why I developed an interest in learning sign language, but I do remember having several sign language books and dictionaries as a child. I also remember watching Linda Bove on Sesame Street and wondering what she was doing with her hands.
Sign language, to me, has always been a source of fascination rather than a means of communication.
But now, with Sweet B being largely non-verbal, sign language has also become a means of communication. She can understand basic sign language and I can communicate with her using sign language. This has been a huge help at home as it gives her a way to express her wants and needs.
Likewise, with a baby that hasn’t yet developed their vocabulary, simple sign language can give them a means of communication. By starting with signs such as “more”, “eat”, “please”, “drink”, and “sleep” you are providing your baby a way to functionally communicate with you.
No it won’t always be easy and consistency is definitely key. But by starting early, you’re giving your baby a small measure of independence.
You can also incorporate sign language into teaching the alphabet by signing along while you sing. I do this with Squeaker and I’ve noticed that she pays just as much attention to my fingers as she does to my mouth.
I’m interested to see if or when she’ll start signing along with me.
My knowledge of sign language is limited and while I would love to say that I’m fluent… I’m far from it. But that doesn’t stop me from teaching Squeaker in our every day routines. For example, I’ll sign “good morning” to her in addition to saying it to her. I’ll sign “more” or “please” and use other signs in appropriate settings.
She hasn’t quite caught on with it yet, but that’s also my own fault for not being consistent with her.
You can start introducing sign language with your baby as early as six months. Or you can wait until your baby is a little bit older, around 16 to 18 months of age, and start then. It’s up to you as to when you start.
Benefits of teaching sign languages to babies
BabySignLanguage.com lists the following reasons:
*practical (less frustration and more fun),
*emotional (closer bonding with parents),
*cognitive (boost brain development)
Here are some helpful resources for introducing sign language:
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Free Printable ASL Posters
Well, really just one printable with a variation too it. I’m offering up a sign language alphabet printable (standard printer paper size). One is just the signs and other other includes signs with the letters underneath it. Print on card stock to make it last longer.
And if you’re in need of more free printables, don’t forget to check out my ASL Printable Flashcards!