The only way to understand anyone in this world is via communication. Would you agree? With technology being so immense, there are so many ways to communicate with someone now a days. Through writing, photos, voice, sight…the list goes on and on.
So why is it we focus so much on speech communication with babies when their fine motor skills develop earlier than their ability to speak. They will start to clap, wave and point from around six to eight months. Babies naturally want to communicate – and baby signing is a brilliant way to help your little one to do so. I’m not saying it should be used as a substitute for speech, but rather as a stepping stone towards full speech.
And the best bit? It’s surprisingly simple for you and your baby to learn.
Some benefits to teaching your baby sign language:
Boost earlier communication skills
Babies know exactly what they want, it may not always be the right thing for them but they certainly know what they want. Babies receptive language skills (what they understand), develops earlier than their expressive language skills (what they can say). The motor, auditory and perceptual skills needed to speak single words are simply not developed until 10 months at the earliest. However, fine motor skills develop much earlier (waving etc). So, we know babies have a better ability to communicate non-verbally at a young age, so sign language allows them to do this.
Supports speech development
As previously mentioned signing is not a substitute for speech but can be an addition to it.
When researchers have tracked language development, they have found that the infants who make the biggest gains in vocabulary are the ones whose parents gesture a lot (Goodwyn et al 2000). Does your baby communicate a lot with this hands? If so, it has been studied that they are more likely to utter his first multi-word sentence at an earlier age (Iverson and Goldin-Meadow 2005; Ozçalişkan and Goldin-Meadow 2010; Demir ÖE, Levine SC & Goldin-Meadow 2015).
Reduces frustration/tantrums increases self-esteem and confidence
How frustrating can a simple game of pictionary or charades get when your team mate just cannot get what you are trying to commutate to them. We’ve all been there! Well baby sign has shown benefits of reducing this frustration as they can communicate their wants and needs effectively. It closes the gap between desire to communicate and the ability to do so. Resulting in an increase in self-esteem and confidence to communicate.
Enhances childs intellectual development and gives them a head start at school
Studies have shown that children who sign have been found to have a significantly larger “word bank” than non-signing children. The more words a child knows and uses by the age of five, the better they are thought to do academically.
It makes YOU more confident
Arguably one of the best benefits of baby signing is that it will make YOU feel like you’re doing a good job at parenting. Understanding what your baby wants will make you feel like you know them better, consequently bringing you closer to each other. Parents say that signing is rewarding and aids bonding because of the need to make more eye-to-eye and tactile contact. Also, as children age, it may be easier to reprimand the child in public using sign language, saying “no” for example, and equally can become a way of giving praise privately.
This Thursday I am lucky enough to be having Little Angels School of signing here in my studio! There are a few spaces available so please get in contact asap if you would like to attend a complimentary taster session.
But remember smiles, praise, and responsiveness will always help reinforce your baby's attempts to communicate.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested, the session will be held in Maidenhead. Drinks will be provided.
Please visit their website for more information
All my love,
Demir ÖE, Levine SC, Goldin-Meadow S. 2015. A tale of two hands: Children's early gesture use in narrative production predicts later narrative structure in speech J Child Lang. 42(3): 662–681
Goodwyn, S.W., Acredolo, L.P., & Brown, C. 2000. Impact of symbolic gesturing on early language development. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior., 24, 81-103
Iverson JM and Goldin-Meadow S. 2005. Gesture paves the way for language development. Psychological Science 16(5): 367-371.
Ozçalişkan S, Goldin-Meadow S. Sex differences in language first appear in gesture. Dev Sci. 2010 Sep 1;13(5):752-60.