Baby Signing Questions
No doubt when you first heard of baby signing questions popped into your head as they do for many parents. I'd like to take a few minutes to answer some of those questions for you.
1) Can I actually teach my baby to sign?
Yes, every parent can teach their baby to sign. You don't need a degree or any special certifications to teach your baby to sign.
It's easy, fun and natural to do. In fact, we do it automatically even though we may not think of it as signing.
When our babies get old enough we teach them to clap their hands when they're happy, wave bye-bye, or to raise or stretch out their arms if they want to be picked up. By doing that we teach our babies to use their hands, or body to communicate with us. Thus baby signing.
2) Why should I consider teaching my baby to sign?
There are so many benefits to teaching your baby sign language.
Studies show that babies that learn or who are taught sign language have higher IQ's - 10-12 points higher, they are better readers, have larger vocabularies and it builds self-esteem.
The myth is that babies taught sign language will not speak as early as other kids but in most cases, baby sign language does just the opposite it advances speech developement.
It helps babies and toddlers cope better with frustrations which in turn reduces whining and temper tantrums.
Teaching your baby to sign also builds a stronger parent-child bond.
But the benefits don't end there:
I was reading recently that now some colleges are accepting sign language classes as second language courses or elective credits.
So not only will your baby benefit from learning sign language now but they will also reap benefits later on in life as well.
3) What tools do I need to start teaching my baby to sign?
All you really need is your hands, your love, your patience a willingness to try and a maybe a few good books or videos.
If you are looking for learning and teaching tools you might want to consider some baby sign language board books.
Babies love to look at other babies and board books are perfect for little hands and some fit perfectly in baby bags.
If you are looking for videos or DVD's because some people are visual learners then there are also some of those available such as the Signing Time Series. In fact they have recently released some Signing Time Series Board Books as well.
There is also a company called Sign Babies, they have a wonderful series of flashcards to use with your baby or toddler.
But if you’d rather have a complete learning kit to help you then Dr. Joseph Garcia’s SIGN with Your Baby Complete Learning Kit is probably what you are looking for.
All of these items can be found throughout this site.
4) But won't teaching sign language affect my baby's learning to talk?
That's a very common concern. I'm happy to say it's a myth. Yes, it will affect your baby's learning to talk! But in a very good way. Not only will it not hinder or keep your baby from talking but it will actually help your baby to learn to speak sooner.
As you perform each sign you will want to say the word so your baby will make the connection from the word to the sign so hearing that word repeatedly will help your baby to learn the word also so you are actually helping build your baby's vocabulary.
5) How early must we start teaching our baby to sign?
There really is no perfect time or set age to start, but I've read that around 3 months is good for some babies. But, each baby is as different so just test out the waters to see if your baby is ready. If you start as early as 3 months though don't expect your baby to be signing back to you for several months. Although they will begin to understand the signs you are showing them. It will take them a while to get their little hands figured out so they can actually perform the signs.
Now, that's not to say that if you haven't started them at an early age then you should just forget it. It's never too late to start. Even if you have a toddler or young child you can start now and they will still reap some of the benefits of learning sign language.
6) How do I get started teaching my baby to sign?
Before you even start buying books or learning tools you need to decide which type of baby sign language you want to teach your baby.
There are two types of baby signing:
1) Dr. Joseph Garcia’s method of teaching ASL or American Sign Language
2) Dr. Linda Acredolo & Dr. Susan Goodwyn's method which is a modified version of ASL.
Once you have decided on which system you are going to use, the best thing to do is start with a single sign then add one sign a week. Keep using that first sign while adding another one.
You don't want to bomard your baby with a lot of signs all at once. Learn along with your baby, don't try to learn a lot of signs all at once, this will only lead to frustration on your part and you aren't going to teach a bunch of signs to your baby all at once anyway. So take things slow.
I suggest starting with signs your baby needs to communicate to you what his or her needs are, such as "milk", "more", or "eat".
Then you can move on to other signs like car or ball or animal signs.
Be patient and don't try and rush things.
7) I've heard a lot about baby signing classes, can I really make a career out of teaching parents how to teach sign language to their babies?
Since the benefits of baby sign language are becoming more well known more parents are wanting to learn how to sign with their babies but might feel they don't know how to start or would just feel better if they could learn from someone else. This is where teaching baby sign language classes comes into play.
Diane Ryan, a baby sign language instructor, has created a Career Kit to help those interested in teaching baby sign language classes. It's called the KinderSigns Career Kit, you can find the link to it under the heading "Make It A Career" .
With this program you can become a certified KinderSigns Instructor. The course includes everything you’ll need to get started, everything from learning how to teach baby signing to the materials you will need to conduct your classes successfully and about the business aspect of it all as well. I am currently taking this course and am very happy to see all the information, business material and workshop material and information provided.