Communication is one of the most important things that your baby will develop in their first year of life. If you plan on teaching your baby American sign language, then we have got the perfect guide for you. Here is everything you need to know about teaching your baby sign language. From when to start teaching them, to how to teach them, to what to teach them. We have got you covered. Let's get started.
Why Should I Teach My Baby Sign Language?
Chances are, if you have decided to teach your baby sign language, then you are well past the point of answering this question. If you are still toying with this idea, then consider the following.
Teaching your baby sign language not only enables them to know another form of communication, but it will help them in many other ways too. When you teach your baby sign language, you are giving them another tool in their tool belt about how to express themselves in relation to the world. Not only that, but when you teach your baby sign language, you are giving them the ability to communicate before they are even able to do so with words. Finally, Studies have shown that when you teach your baby to communicate with sign language, they are likely to begin learning how to use their words sooner too.
One thing is certain, the research behind teaching your baby sign language shows nothing but positive results that should not be ignored.
Will Teaching My Baby Sign Language Be Difficult?
A lot of parents may find it surprising to know that teaching your baby sign language is not as difficult as you may think. In fact, babies learn to communicate with their hands much faster than they learn with their words. In fact, for most babies, they will learn how to tell you what they need before they begin to speaking.
When Should I Start Teaching My Baby Sign Language?
This is one of the most common questions when it comes to teaching your baby sign language. For starters, it is never too early to begin. If you want to begin formally teaching your baby sign language, then you can start as early as 6 months. Although you will be able to teach your baby the early stages of communicating through sign language, you should set your expectations accordingly. Your baby will likely not be able to sign back to you just because they are not physically there yet. Their motor skills will not be maturely developed enough to respond back to you in sign language when you sign to them. They will, however, be able to understand and grasp what you are trying to teach them. This is provided that you are consistent and offer a lot of repetition.
As your child gets older, you will notice that teaching them to sign might get a little easier with time. Not only that, but you will notice that teaching them how to sign will be a lot more fun too. When your child reaches their baby milestone of 8 to 9 months, you may notice that your baby will enjoy learning how to sign a lot more. This is because the 8 to 9 month range is when your baby starts to become a lot more sociable. For starters, they will begin to babble. Not only that, but they will get used to your facial expression and understanding what you mean in relation to what you are teaching them to sign.
What Should I Teach My Baby To Sign First?
When you are teaching your baby sign language, you will want to begin with the basic words. These are the same basic words that you would be showing them if you were teaching them the English language. Some words that you may want to include in your sign language lessons are common words such as Mom, Dad, milk, and hello. Be sure to teach them the words as you do the action. For example when you are feeding your child in their highchair, you can teach them words of the food they are nibbling on. As your baby grows and develops, so will the words that you teach them. If these starter words are not the best compilation for your family, then pick different words that will most apply.
Do Not Forget Your Voice
As you teach your baby sign language, you will find that he or she will pick up signing a lot quicker than you might expect. When you sign with your baby, it's essential that you continue using your voice as well. When you use your voice along with signing, you will be teaching your baby how to talk to communicate as well as how to use her hands to communicate.
Some parents may be fearful that teaching their baby sign language will interfere with their ability to speak. This is quite the opposite actually. When you teach your baby sign language, you are giving them another option or method of communication. After all, learning sign language is about enhancing your language abilities not replacing one form of communication with another.
Practice and Patience Makes Perfect
When you are teaching your baby sign language, it is important to keep in mind that this will be as tricky for your baby as it is for you to teach it. You will want to practice plenty of patience when you are teaching your baby sign language. A good rule of thumb is to time your sign languages appropriately.
Instead of having a designated time to teach your baby sign language, you will want to make use out of every opportunity you get. When your baby is not fussy or when she is having play time, that is the best time to practice. You may quickly find that your baby can only stay focused for several minutes at a time. Give your little one plenty of breaks and rest so that they do not get fussy every time you try to teach them to sign language.
Learn Through Imitation
When it comes to teaching anything to your baby, babies soak up almost everything they learn through imitation. When it comes to sign language, this is no exception. When you are teaching your baby sign language, you will want to encourage this behavior. Encourage your child to imitate what you are doing. Along with that, you will want there to be plenty of interaction going on between you and your child. Simply put, when you interact with your child, they are more likely to learn.
Experience Is Key
Teaching your baby sign language is not a task. It is an experience. In order to effectively teach your baby sign language, you will want to have them experience sign language throughout their day. Whether they are getting dressed or getting a glass of water to drink, it is a good idea to sign as much as you can. Signing everyday tasks that you and your child do on a daily basis will expose your child to the repetition of signing. Over time, this repetition will be ingrained in them and will help them develop the skills in order to acquire sign language.
Join a Community of Signing Parents
Parents, this next trick is more for you than it is for your baby. In order to be the best sign language teacher for your child, you will want to have a good support system under you. It is a good idea to join a community of sign language parents. Learn tips and tricks that other parents use that work for them. Not only that, but having a good support system can make a world of a difference when you have a question or concern about your baby's development of sign language.
Have Fun With It
Last but not least, you will want to make sure that you are having plenty of fun when teaching your baby sign language. Teaching your baby to communicate through sign language should not be a chore. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to bond with your baby. Not only that, but you will be creating lasting memories that will truly have an impact on your child's life.
One of the most magical things about having a child is the fact that you literally get to teach them everything. It is never too early to begin teaching your child the wonders of communication. Especially communication through sign language. Use these simple tips and tricks with your little one as they begin their journey on learning sign language.
Related Article: 7 Tips to Getting Your Baby to Eat Solid Foods