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The Benefits of Signing
Signing at Home
- Signing allows your infant to clearly communicate specific thoughts.
- Signing reduces frustration for your baby - and for you!
- Signing gives you a window into your child's mind and personality.
- Signing won't delay verbal language development - in fact, it may accelerate it. Research shows that babies who sign usually start to talk sooner and develop larger vocabularies than non-signing babies.
- Signing reinforces verbal language by adding visual and kinesthetic emphasis to auditory input.
- Signing children tend to be more interested in books.
- Signing builds on babies' natural tendency to use gestures.
Signing at Bright Beginnings
- Signing helps to lower noise levels in preschool classrooms by reducing frustrated screaming and crying.
- Signing minimizes stress and frustration for caregivers who are responsible for meeting the needs of many children at once.
- Signing reduces the "guesswork" in meeting each child's maintenance needs resulting in more available time for positive, developmental interactions.
- Caregivers report that signing significantly reduces problems with biting. Take away the frustration and biting goes with it.
- The use of American Sign Language gives children with special needs the opportunity to interact in a meaningful way with typically developing children. General acceptance of children with special needs is greatly enhanced.
10 Suggestions for Signing Success
- Choose 3-5 signs that are meaningful to you and your baby. Learn the signs and be comfortable with using them (recommended 1st signs are "MILK", "MORE" and "EAT").
- Make the sign for the word as you say it. "You are crying! Do you want some MILK?"
- Make eye contact with your baby as you sign and make the sign as close to your face as possible. Until your baby starts signing back, you may want to repeat or slightly exaggerate the motion used in the sign. Babies' eyes are drawn toward movement.
- Babies learn through repetition. Invite family members, childcare providers and friends to sign with you.
- Never pressure babies to sign or make them feel that you are disappointed when they don't sign. Just keep signing and be patient.
- When your baby does sign back, affirm that you understand - and congratulate your baby on her/his achievement!
- Children will not always make the sign correctly. Accept your baby's approximations and continue to model the sign as it should be made. Eventually, most children will learn to form the sign correctly.
- Include signs in your life but don't "force feed" or aggressively teach signs. Let signing occur naturally. Resist the temptation to show-off your children or ask them to display their new talents.
- Make it FUN! Enjoy the deep sense of connection you will feel with your baby when you begin to have meaningful two-way conversations.
- BE PATIENT! Your baby will learn to sign, but at his/her own pace.