Different Types Of Sign Language
BSL is a specific form of sign language developed for use with preverbal infants. BSL is not the same as other sign languages used in the deaf community, such as ASL.
Language used in the deaf and hard of hearing community
Includes grammar rules
ASL is a language used by the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. It is a comprehensive form of communication complete with grammar rules and usage conventions.
BSL is adapted from ASL, but it has a different purpose. Some baby signs are modified or simplified to make them easier for infants to repeat, and there are no grammar rules.
BSL is a supplement to the spoken word. It helps infants who can’t form words communicate their needs with their caregivers. Babies generally stop signing when they develop the ability to speak.
Getting Started With Baby Sign Language
To get started on baby sign language, begin by learning your first few signs. . You only need a few signs to start with, anywhere from three to five is fine.
Once you have learned your first few signs, its time to start teaching your baby the signs. We have a four part method that we call FREE.
Fun keep baby sign language as an enjoyable thing you do togetherRepeat the secret to teaching baby sign language is to do lots of repetition.Encourage when baby starts to sign back, give her lots of encouragementExpand once baby learns her first few signs add more to expand her vocabulary.
Be Consistent With Your Signing
Teaching your child is the easy part. Ensuring you consistently repeat the sign when ever possible is whats hard. If youve had a long day or have worked late, mustering the energy to teach sign language can be a stretch.
With repetition theyll pick up the signs a lot faster and once theyve learned them, theyll be familiar with the process of learning new signs.
And when your baby starts signing back, be proud about it. Even if their signs bear no resemblance at all to the sign. It keeps them engaged and will reinforce their learning if they can see it makes you happy.
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So Should You Teach Your Baby Signs What Are The Benefits Of Baby Sign Language
Teaching a baby to communicate using gestures can be exciting and fun. Its an opportunity to watch your baby think and learn.
The process might encourage you to pay closer attention to your babys attempts to communicate. It might help you appreciate the challenges your baby faces when trying to decipher language.
These are good things, and for some parents, they are reason enough to try baby signing.
But what about other reasons developmental reasons?
Some advocates claim that baby signing programs have long-term cognitive benefits.
They claim that babies taught to sign will amass larger spoken vocabularies, and even develop higher IQs.
Others have claimed that signing has important emotional benefits.
According to this argument, babies learn signs more easily than they learn words. As a result, they communicate more effectively at an earlier age. Their parents understand them better, reducing frustration and stress.
Does the research support these claims?
Not really. But it depends on what you mean by baby-signing.
If by baby signing you mean teaching babies signs derived from ASL or other languages, then theres no compelling evidence of long-term advantages.
But if youre thinking of the more spontaneous, pantomime use of gesture, thats a different story. There is good evidence suggesting that easy-to-decipher, iconic gesturing can help babies learn.
To see what I mean, lets take a closer look at the research.
Signing Smart Diaper Bag Dictionary: First Signs Baby Sign Language Flashcards By Michelle Anthony
Mom, Dad and baby can learn to sign together with this engaging, educational Signing Smart Diaper Bag Dictionary: First Signs Baby Sign Language Flashcards by Michelle Anthony. The ring-bound cards depict images of little ones signing a word on one side and parents signing the same expression on the other. These flashcards are an excellent learning tool for parents and teachers.
5 of 6 Image Credits: Amazon
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Is My Toddler Too Old For Baby Sign Language
Sign language can be a valuable tool for toddlers even once they can talk, because it can be really hard for them to access and use the spoken words they know when flooded by big emotions .
Ayelet describes how she uses sign language with her toddler saying, “My son is over 2.5 and I still sometimes sign the words for emotions to him when he’s upset because I think we both feel like it’s a good tool to have! I don’t sign other words like I used to, because he has since replaced them with the actual word, and uses those words automatically.”
Ayelets example is also a beautiful depiction of using empathy and connection to manage a toddler tantrum about ending a playtime.
Start Basic Signs Early
For us, this meant introducing certain baby signs, like milk and bath, and sleep. As a beginner to sign language, these are easy to learn and remember. We started these with Cooper when he was just a few months old. One of my biggest worries with signing was that I would forget to do it, simply because its new to me too. So I found that only having three or so activities associated with a sign made it feel more manageable early on. At seven months old, Cooper is recognizing certain signs. Its incredibly rewarding to see that recognition in his actions. He hasnt signed back yet, at least not that weve recognized. I have no doubt that he is on track to do so.
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How Does Sign Language Work
Babies understand language long before they have developed the ability to use it. Most infants and toddlers can wave or point well before they can say “bye bye” or “what is that?”. Providing them with signs allows them to communicate the language they understand, but cannot yet speak.
Babies love to mimic and learn best through observation. They are naturally prone to using gestures so it only makes sense to provide them with signs that have meaning, so they can communicate to us in a way that we can understand. Although babies love to mimic, it is important to note that not all babies will be interested in signing. I know several families where some of their children took to signing and their other children showed no interest. Like anything, it will take some trial and error to see if your children will engage in this behavior or not.
Sign language is a great way to help infants and toddlers communicate and grasp the world around them. As parents and providers, it is important for us to communicate and narrate every day activities to the little ones in our care. Narrating everything that is going on around them allows children to better interpret the world around them. If we are already doing this, adding signs can become second nature. I started with the easy signs that I could easily incorporate into my everyday conversations like please, thank you, and more.
Teaching Baby Sign Language: A Guide For New Parents
Baby sign language can help your child communicate without saying a word. Learn when and how to teach your infant to sign, plus the benefits of this new form of baby talk.
How many times have you looked at your baby especially when he was wailing and desperately wondered what he wanted? Like most parents, you probably resigned yourself to living with the mystery: After all, it’ll be months before your child can say that he’s thirsty or tired, or that he wishes you’d read him a story.
But what if there was a way the two of you could communicate much sooner?
That’s the idea behind Baby Sign Language, a collection of simple gestures that children can begin learning and using well before their first birthday. It’s easy to teach and its seriously catching on.
The reason? Using sign language with your baby gives you a peek into his thoughts, which helps cement your bond, says Michelle Macias, M.D., chair of the section on developmental and behavioral pediatrics for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Signing may also cut down on the frustration caused by your child’s inability to convey his needs. And it might even make your kid smarter. Studies have found that babies who were taught to sign had a larger vocabulary at 12 months than those who weren’t.
Ready to give it a go? Heres everything you need to know about teaching baby sign language.
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Better Late Than Never
Remember that you can still learn a new language past the “window of opportunity” period. There are tons of benefits to exercising your brain by practicing a new language, so dont be put off by the idea that youll never speak on a native level. Tools like Brainscape’s foreign language flashcards can make it fun and easy to drill vocab and grammar and learn a second languageat any age!
What Baby Signs To Start Teaching
The most important thing to remember is to teach baby signs that are functional and motivating. It might be fun to teach your baby the sign for platypus but how often will they use it? Unless they have a favorite stuffed animal that happens to be a platypus, I would instead focus on signs that help them to communicate wants and needs.
If you have a pet , definitely consider teaching these signs. Or if they love a book with farm animals, thats a motivating way to teach animal signs as well.
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When Do You Start Teaching Babies Sign Language
Many caregivers start teaching babies signs around four months of age. Now, dont expect that a baby this young will be able to sign back just yet! Its all about the repetition, and consistently teaching them over a period of time that certain signs are associated with things like milk, up, more, bath, snack, and so on. Its common for weeks or months to go by before your baby starts intentionally communicating with you by signing.
Its also never too late to teach sign language to your baby, toddler, or older child. Even though you may not rely on it once your child learns more words, its still a great and useful skill to have, and provides an extra parenting tool to help your child when they are stressed out or having a tantrum.
Why Should I Use Sign Language With My Baby
The simplest answer is that using signs allows your baby to express him or herself with gestures before he or she is able to speak with words. Research shows thatthis can help your baby learn to speak with words sooner.
Ayelet expertly describes the complexities of learning to speak: “When we stop to think about how many systems are working together to speak, it’s astounding – we have to coordinate all kinds of signals from our brain to think of the word we want to say, not to mention our breath, all the tiny muscles required to produce speech, placement of the tongue to make different sounds… this is why we often notice that our older infants or young toddlers can understand certain words or phrases before they can speak.”
When you give babies specific tools to use for communication, it opens the door for them to explore language and understand how it works. Here’s a snapshot of the many important benefits of baby sign language:
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Choose The Most Useful Signs
It’s a good idea to plan out the signs you will use ahead of time and choose signs relevant to your baby’s needs. You may want to begin with just a few signs and add more as you get used to them. However, there is no such thing as too many signs for the babyjust as too many spoken words won’t negatively impact spoken language.
But Surely There Are Situations Where Signing Is Easier Than Speaking
I think thats very likely. For example, the ASL sign for spider looks a lot like a spider. Its iconic, which may make it easier for babies to decipher. And it might be easier for babies to produce the gesture than to speak the English word, spider, which includes tricky elements, like the blended consonant sp.
The same might be said for the ASL signs for elephant and deer.
But most ASL signs arent iconic, and, as I explain opens in a new windowhere, some gestures can be pretty difficult for babies to reproduce just as some spoken words can be difficult to pronounce.
So its unlikely that a baby is going to find one mode of communication easier across the board.
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When Do Babies Stop Signing
When children who use signs begin to speak, they usually begin to slow or stop their use of signs in favor of speaking. Children will naturally drop the signs when they dont need them anymore. If the parent wants the child to continue signing, the parent will need to make signing a part of the continued, natural use of language in the home.
Not quite ready to join a class? A set of Words by the Handful books is a great way to get started on your own!
Help In Sign Language
When learning and teaching baby sign language, be sure to review the sign for help. This can be useful to baby in so many different situations plus, being able to ask for support from a parent or caregiver can help reduce any frustration a baby may feel. If you want to communicate help in sign language, simply make a fist with one hand, with the thumb extended, and place it over your other hand, which is extended flat. Then move both hands up together.
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Mrs Diane Bell Sped Para
I am a hearing mother of one hearing and one hearing-impaired child. Both are exceptional boys! When my hearing son married, his first child was a beautiful little girl. She is hearing but had a very real love for her hearing-impaired Uncle. She also liked to follow Grandma around the kitchen and help cook.
We had always signed and talked in our house and did not change that when we talked around her. Before she could say anything with her mouth she was letting us know what she wanted by speaking with her hands. She did not know that this was not the way other homes communicated. She was so comfortable signing! She liked to have me pick her up so she could see what was cooking on the stove. She would point to each pan and sign open so I would take the lid off so she could see what was in each. She always looked for the mac and cheese because this was something I would let her stir together for me. At 10 months old, she proved that love communicates young and love communicates well!!
Tips To Make The Learning Process Easier
Begin with a few and common signs. To make it easier for both your and your child, start with the most useful words that you use more often in a day for instance, drink, milk, sleep, etc.
Say the word aloud. You dont want sign language to replace verbal communication it’s a stop-gap solution until your baby learns to use words. So, every time you sue the sign for a specific term, make sure to mention the word and vice versa.
Consistency and patience are the keys. The only way to teach children is through repetition repeat the gesture and the word at least twice. So, if you’re asking your child if she wants milk, make the sign for “milk” several times, and put forth the question in different ways: “Would you like to drink milk?” “Shall I give you a bottle of milk?” and so on.
Find opportunities throughout the day. Suppose if you use the “water” sign only when handing over the sipper to your baby, she may start relating the sign to her sipper only. So, make sure to use the sign and say “water” while bathing your baby, or while you drink a glass of water, and whenever you see the water. Thus, slowly your baby learn that the word and the sign stand for water.
Encourage your child. Reward your baby with a toy or a bit of food when she performs the sign it will motivate her. And to reinforce the sign, repeat it after her. Also, help your child by gently moving her hands to perform the action.
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What Are The Most Important Signs To Teach
As a speech language pathologist, Ive seen how babies who are taught baby sign language display far less frustration and increase communication than those who are not. For that reason, the most important signs that I recommend teaching are the ones that help your little one express their wants, needs, and emotions on a daily basis.
This includes the signs for more, all done, milk, help, and hurt. Teaching please and thank you can be beneficial, too.