Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Baby Sign Language

Baby sign language has become very popular in the last several years as a means of communication between parents and their very young children. It's a great way to encourage early communication for children who are not old enough to communicate verbally. Baby sign language can also ease frustration between parents and children as they attempt to communicate their needs and wants.

Some parents are concerned that this form of early communication might delay their child's verbal development. However, the opposite is typically true. The combined experience of movement and spoken language encourages the child's understanding of the word, as well as increases retention of the new word. This is because the child is engaged actively in the learning experience, and the movement has stimulated the brain to receive the incoming information.

Parents can begin to work on baby sign language as early as 3-6 months, and children will typically begin to sign back around 6-12 months old. However, it's not too late if your child is past that age. Sign language can be a fun way to communicate for children of all ages. I recommend taking a sign language class, such as Sign and Sing, with your child to learn how to present the signs in an interactive, age appropriate, and fun way. A sign language class will also help you to understand your child's hand development. If a sign is too difficult for them to form, your child will likely make adjustments to the sign. Once you learn what to look for, you may be surprised to find your child has several signs they are already using.

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