Today I would like to share with you how to teach your infants and young toddlers sign language. I was set on doing this since I was pregnant with my son for many reasons. First, I had a friend in middle school that was deaf and I learned sign language (mostly the Alphabet) to communicate with her easier. Second, my nephew has laryngeal papillomas, which prevent him from being able to talk loudly among other things. His speech therapist has also been working with teaching him sign language so he can better communicate to his family, and I would like my son (his cousin) to be able to communicate with him as well, especially when they are older.
And lastly, there are many benefits to teaching your young children sign language, including my favorite, the fact that they can communicate before even learning how to speak! A few months ago my son would eat everything and anything and never seem full, but suddenly he would only sit at the dinner table for about 5 minutes and then throw a hissy fit to get down. I could not figure out if he was still hungry, full, or just wanted to still run around and play.
I had been using signs for months, and I started overemphasizing 'More' when I knew he wanted something to eat (like snacks I fed him one by one). When he would hold his mouth open (which I knew he meant he wanted more) I would show him the sign for 'More' and help motion his hands in the same way. After only a month, now he can do it all by himself, so my problem of not knowing what's the matter (in terms of More) have been solved.
So, those are the benefits in a nut shell, now how can you do it. Just as I said how I taught my son 'More.' You know what your kids are trying to say (some of the time) and if you do then take that opportunity and use their frustration to teach them how to communicate. Since they cannot grasp verbal commands yet, the physical signs are easy and perfect for them. My son picked up on me asking him where is 'Water' was after only a week! Then it got harder when we mixed up what was in his bottle (milk, juice, and water). However if you keep a seperate cup or bottle for each different item, it will be simple for your young toddler to grasp the signs and meanings right away.
Now your turn, what is something new you have learned today? Or do you have something that you know about that you would like to share with others?