Nope, you don’t need to have an hearing-impaired person in your family to be interested in sign-language. In fact, what I’m talking about is baby-sign-language which is a kind gift to help the child to communicate and deal with his/her emotions.
Besides, this language is quite easier than the traditional sign-language, you know.
In which context would you sign with your baby?
It has been quite an innovation at home since we didn’t use it for Mr A. Since Little H has been going to daycare since he was 6 months old, we have learned to sign to him when talking.
At daycare, all the child-minders use baby-sign-language to communicate with the toddlers. When Little H began to go there, I went for a 3-session training with a professional to learn how to practice this language and how to sign properly.
How do you sign with your baby ?
The objective to sign with a baby is to make the communication easier for him since he/she can’t speak yet and he/she is very frustrated not to be understood. Giving him/her the opportunity to express his/her emotions, his/her desire in another way than crying or weeping, we are more efficient to help him/her and provide for his/her needs.
The concept is different from traditional sign language. We don’t sign everything, only the key words of the sentence and we keep talking (slowly) while doing it. The sign isn’t a substitution to talking since the baby can hear us. It is a way to help him learn talking and communicating with adults.
We are usually advised to begin around 6 months and the child will begin to sign himself around 12/18 months. It begins with the basic words “Hello”, “Good bye”, “More”, “Again”, “Cookie”, “Dummy”, “Thank you”, “Mummy”… Then, the perceptions and the feelings will appear.
Isn’t it risky to delay the baby’s speaking ?
To the ones worrying to know if signing will delay the baby speaking, there is no risk. Exactly like crawling, when speaking becomes more efficient than signing, the child will stop by himself, since the concept is signing while talking.
Little H had many issues so he never signed but I’m sure it helped him understand us, especially when he couldn’t hear us for a time. The other kids at daycare sign and it is impressive. You can see them ask (politely!) everything they want and explain why they are crying (because they’re in pain or have been frightened).
Signing is a family journey
Besides being useful, it can be very fun.
While training, I learned to sign rhymes and how to read books or tell stories. I saw the child-minders doing it with the 2 & 3 year- olds and it was absolutely lovely to see them doing it at the same time.
What is also great with this means of communication is that it can be a family affair.
Mr A was absolutely delighted to sign to his little brother and still uses it when he is eating and can’t talk properly. Even my husband learned to do it.
For those who want to give it a try you can check this website . Personally I’ve learned with CMCG formation, which is a French training organisation but if you go on the internet, I’m sure you’ll find something close to you !
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you want more informations !