For many years, people have thought that sign language can only be used as a way of communicating with the hearing impaired. Well, not any more. Recently, sign language has been proven to be very effective as a way of communication with infants who have not yet developed speaking skills. In recent years, many parents and caregivers have turned to sign language for their children. They have decided that teaching their children sign language at an early age is very beneficial.Of course, there are still those who are hesitant, those who need to be reassured that sign language will be good for their child. These caregivers should be aware of the positive effects that come from teaching an infant how to sign.
Every parent or caregiver that is considering baby sign language will most probably want to know a few things, such as, how to know when your child is ready to be taught sign language, how to go about teaching your child the language, and of course what are the exact benefits sign language for healthy hearing infants holds to both the parents and to the children. When and How to use Baby Sign LanguageWhenever parents begin considering baby sign language as a way of communication between them and their infant, many commonly want to know whether or not their child is ready. Is the infant ready to be taught something like this? When will the child be able to use sign language appropriately or in the right context? What age will the child’s brain be capable of communication through sign language? Kids as young as six months can learn to communicate before they can speak (Adams, 2005). Wait to begin teaching your baby sign language until you are able to keep an infant’s attention (Williams, “Babies and Sign Language,” N. . ). This is suggesting that it may be easier to teach a child sign language when they are seen as able to focus on something, even if for a short while. However, what parents must remember is that every child develops differently.
Not every child will take to sign language as easily or as fast as every parent would hope. But once children get used to the hand gestures and are ready to sign a word, they will. Even though children may take weeks to sign back, parents should remain patient and try their best to keep sensible expectations.
Even if a child does take weeks to sign back, it does not necessarily mean that they were taught sign language too late. It is never too early or too late to teach an infant sign language. When dealing with sign language, parents would find it useful to know how to go about introducing the language to their children. The first signs that are taught to a child are generally the most difficult to teach.
So, to make it easier on both the parent and child, it would be a good idea if the first signs are basic, simple and are used in every day circumstances.General signs are very useful, such as “eat” or “drink” or “play” but the more specific a child can be, the more effective he will be able to communicate his wants and needs (Hales and Brink, “Baby Signs,” N. d. ). Of course, consistency on the parent’s part is an essential tool in teaching sign language. It is very important for a parent to repeat a sign as many times as possible so that the infant makes that necessary connection between the gesture and the actual meaning you are trying to convey. They should also be sure to say the word they are trying to sign as they teach it.
Children may pick up the gestures you are teaching them or they may even make up their own and that is why parents should make sure that they pay close attention to their baby as they are teaching. A baby’s first sign may be indistinctive to you, but it will mean that your child is starting to get the idea of it all, and will also show you that your efforts are finally starting to pay off. Benefits for the child Every parent wants the best for their children. One of the main reasons that parents decide to teach their children sign language is for the benefits it carries for their child.Teaching a baby to sign does not necessarily mean that you are encouraging a child not to speak; in fact, one of the beneficial outcomes of signing is that signers tend to develop speaking skills earlier than non-signers. This early development in a child’s speech also helps them become better readers, which in turn allows signing children to develop larger vocabularies. “By the time a child reaches his or her 18th month, the child has the speaking vocabulary of about 50 words” (Saccone, 2005, para. 6).
With this increase in a child’s development, one of the end results is that infants who sign have been shown to have relatively higher IQ’s than non-signing infants. Kids who signed as babies scored 12 points higher on IQ tests taken in the second grade than kids who had not signed (Kelly, 2002). Clear communication between parents and their infants is one of the single most important things to a child when they have not yet developed speaking skills. When a parent cannot understand what their child is trying to tell them, it can cause an infant to become extremely frustrated.This frustration leads to more tantrums, which are far from good for a baby’s health. However, when the barriers of communication between a child and parent are broken, and the child is able to communicate with his parents through sign language, they are able to express themselves much easier and hence reduce their frustration. If your baby is able to communicate their basic needs to you, it means you do not have to try and interpret their cries; sign language can help reduce those tear-filled frustrated moments (“Baby Sign Language,” 2007).Benefits for the parent Teaching an infant sign language can be extremely beneficial to a child, but what many do not know is that it can also be beneficial for the parents.
But how is it beneficial to them? Baby Sign Language is a key technique for improving communication and reducing frustration (Williams, “Babies and Sign Language,” N. d. ). When parents and their children find it difficult to communicate with each other, it does not only cause frustration for the child, but it can also be very frustrating to a parent.
But one positive outcome of signing is that parents are better able to understand their child and meet to their needs before it leads to chaotic behavior, resulting in a more peaceful environment at home. Parents no longer have to deal with the stress of trying to understand what their baby is trying to tell them, they are now able to communicate with their child through baby sign language helping them relieve their frustration. The bond between parent and child is one of the most important things to a parent.
Every parent wants the chance to improve their relationship with their children, more emotionally than physically.Parents are given the opportunity to do so when they decide to teach their child sign language. Signing enhances the parent-child relationship, and it somewhat gives parents an inside into their child’s world.
When babies are able to replace some of the screaming, whining and crying with a few simple hand gestures, it can dramatically improve their relationships with their caregivers (“You don’t have to Speak,” 2003). This is possible because signing involves increased interactions with your child on a daily basis and it allows you to see what your child is thinking and what they are interested in.It may even result in you gathering an idea of your child’s kind of personality. Sign Language is no longer only used to communicate with the hearing impaired.
Many parents and caregivers are turning to sign language for their children because of the many beneficial outcomes it may have. Even parents who may be weary of teaching their infants this language will tend to change their minds once they come to realize the benefits it holds to both the children and the parents. Of course, it is most effective when the parent knows when and how to go about teaching their child sign language.These benefits and guidelines to teaching sign language are sure to remove and hesitations some parents may have when deciding on whether or not baby sign language is the right approach for them.References Adams, William Lee.
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Tiny Hands Talking. U. S. News & World Report, 133, 66 Saccone, Julie (2005).
Sign, Infant Development Facts. Retrieved November 23, 2007, from http://www. 4hearingloss. com/archives/2005/02/babies-learn-si. html Williams, M. J. Babies & Sign Language. N.
d. Retrieved November 25, 2007, from http://www. babies-and-sign-language. com/baby-sign-benefits-parents. html You don’t have to speak to say something. (2003).
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