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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Baby Talk

The idea of teaching your baby sign language has been around since the 1980’s when university student Joseph Garcia first noticed that babies of deaf people were naturally starting to sign as early as 8 or 9 months old. He was intrigued at how proficient the babies became at it and if you click on the word video, it will actually show you a number of babies signing and how effective it can be.

As the same time in the 1980's two other researchers had separately discovered and were doing research on teaching babies to sign so I thought that by now it had become common knowledge. However when I mentioned it to a couple the other day, neither of them had heard of it so I am writing this blog for anyone unaware of this great way to communicate with your preverbal child.

Having had children myself, I know how frustrating it can be when your baby cries and you have no idea why. Up until they are 8 or 9 months old obviously all you can do is guess at the reason for their distress but as they mature, and you teach them baby sign language it can be an adventure and a blessing to be able to communicate with them.

I can still remember teaching my babies to say bye-bye by picking up a little hand and waving it at departing friends. Once they ‘got it’ they loved doing it and would look at us for approval. Babies usually clap their hands when they are happy about something and I’ve always loved their natural tendency from an early age to point that little index finger at anything and everything. Signing is just a natural but educated extension of using their hands when they try to tell us something.

With sign language it is not only satisfying to interact with your child for the convenience and fun, but because communicating is a highly evolved part of being human, it also strengthens the bonds of love and trust between you and your baby.

There are other proven advantages as well. It turns out that learning to sign requires early development of some parts of the young child's brain that research shows are important later for developing language skills as well as more effective social and emotional capabilities .

If you happen to have a very young child you want to start teaching sign language, there are many sites available. Click on this highlighted text to get started. Rie