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Simple Steps to Relate With the Baby Sign Language

By Charles Hopkins Published 11/2/2006 | Parenting

There are a number of benefits of training your baby in some kind of sign language. Not only does it alleviate the communication gap between you and your child, it also enhances the parent-child bond. Your child learns to trust you at a very early age. This trust turns her into a confident child and that in turn relieves you from much of the stress of parenting. There are evidences too that signing children develop into more intelligent children in the latter course of their lives.

As a new parent, you can also consider enrolling your baby in a signing program. You can try to teach your baby the basic sign languages right at your home too. Here are some easy steps to help you succeed in your endeavors.

  • When you are teaching your baby in sign language, choose a particular word to start with. Once the baby is well familiar with the sign of that particular word, move to the next word. And repeat the process for adding more and more words to her signing vocabulary.
  • Take the example of the word MILK. Lets describe a step-by-step way in which you can teach your child to make a sign of milk.
  • First of all, determine the sign of the word that you wish your baby to learn. You can follow any standard signing language, you can choose signs from any modern baby sign language programs, or you can develop a sign of your own to exchange messages with your child.
  • Utter the word, MILK loudly and clearly as you teach your baby to sign milk.
  • Whenever you give milk to your baby try to open a conversation relating to milk, like this is MILK ---drink the MILK quickly--- MILK will make you big and strong and like these.
  • Every time you utter the word, make a certain gesture that signifies milk. This repetition will help the child to correlate between the word and the sign. And soon there will be time when the baby will sign back at you when she needs milk.
  • Now when you are teaching your child to make signs, maintain eye contact, so that the child gets to read your lips, gaze at your eyes and watch your finger movements.
  • The next rule is: sign frequently, but contextually. That is to say, do not make a sign of MILK, as you are feeding her some other food. Use the sign of milk only when the baby is drinking milk or there is a milk bottle in front you.
  • At first your baby will not be able to sign the word correctly. But praise her for every small attempt on her part and recognize her attempts by such actions as handing over the bottle of milk or getting her more milk and so on.

As a teacher of signing language to your child, your aim should be to prepare your child so thoroughly that ultimately you can carry out a non-verbal conversation in signing language. You can start the training as early as your baby steps into 6th month. Now, how quickly the baby will pick up or sign back to you depends on the age bracket she falls in. But remember, even before she starts signing back to you, she understands all you say through the signing language; you will soon get to understand that from her short babblings.

However, the ideal time for introducing your baby to the world of sign is between 6 and 8 months. This is the time when the baby learns to gaze at you without distractions for a few seconds. If you have a toddler, between the ages of 9-12 months you can start teaching right away.

Lastly, patience is the key to success in teaching sign language to your baby. A normal baby of 6-9 months of age is expected to take 2 months to make the first sign. In case of older child, results may be faster. But you should be extremely patient and keep on repeating the signing again and again.