Monday, December 8, 2008

How to get started

Although the technique for signing with different ages may vary, here are some pointers to help you get started signing with your baby.

Start with just a few signs.

We suggest starting with milk, eat and more. These signs will probably have the most relevance in your baby’s routine and fulfill her most common needs in the beginning. You may add more signs, once she begins to use these.

Use signs every day. Incorporate them into your daily routine.

You may start signing with your baby as early as six months. Try using signs every day and as often as possible. Make it part of you daily routine. Ask your baby, “would you like to eat” while signing eat. Ask your baby if she would like some milk when you give her a bottle. Ask her if she would like more when she finishes her snack. Repetition is the mother of learning. Repeat, be consistent and most of all be patient. It may take a while, but the signs will come. Most often signs first appear around 9-10 months. We also recommend watching baby signing videos together (our favorites are from the Baby Signing Time series).

Speak, read or sing and sign together

Always say the word you are signing. For added reinforcement, you may sing songs and use signs, or you may read books and use signs. Research has shown that reading while signing may make children more interested in books. Signing is like reinforcement for language, you hear the word, see the object or action and then make a kinesthetic gesture. It actually speeds up the learning process.

Help your baby form the signs if she cannot

Sometimes it is hard for babies to form the shapes of the signs with their little hands. You can take their little hands in yours and help them form the signs.

Watch out for signs

Signs may first appear out of context. Your baby may sign more more more on the changing table, or eat while watching tv. Watch closely, if you see it again she may be practicing. Some signs are more difficult to form than others. So watch for something similar, that may be their own modification. For example, if your baby brings one finger to her mouth while you are drinking from a bottle of water, she may be signing water. Also look for sign substitution. My baby will sign bath when he wants to go in the pool, bike if he sees a motorcycle or knife when he wants the scissors. To him they are similar items and since he doesn’t know the signs for pool, motorcycle, or scissors, he uses what he does know.

Always offer positive reinforcement,

Always praise your baby she makes an effort to sign, even if the sign isn’t exactly correct.

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