Parents with sign language as their main form of communication will definitely teach their children the same language. Babies as young as we'd never imagine start to learn this language and they do it effectively. More and more parents have taken to this strategy as it is not only another way to communicate with their child but also has benefits.
But as benefits come, there are also some things that we should be prepared for if we want to try teaching our kids baby sign language. Here are ten things most people don't know, good and not so good, about baby sign language.
10 It's Not As Easy It Looks
When we look closely at people who communicate using sign language, it seems doable enough. Also, we remember that a child's brain is like a sponge, they will absorb anything that they see, hear and is taught to them.
But learning sign language and teaching baby sign language to our babies is not as easy as it looks, especially if we have no background and are starting really from level zero. We'd be surprised upon taking it on that we might be in for something that we really have to put a lot of effort into for it to be absorbed effectively by our child.
9 It Takes Time To Learn
Apart from sign language being something that's not so easy to learn, it also takes time, not just on the parent's part to learn how to do it, but also when it's time to teach the child. It's not like they see it, then they will imitate it, and then that's it.
Sign language is a very emotional language and it's not just signs and meanings and being able to do them. It's a form of communication, and the reason we communicate is to express our feelings. So be patient with everything because it takes time two-fold, learning it and then teaching it.
8 Some Say It Delays Speech Learning
If we do a little research about baby sign language, we might come across something that says this method may delay the child's speech learning. It is actually the opposite of that. Using our hands to make signs and express ourselves will not hinder us from talking, this same truth applies to young minds like our babies.
These cute, little individuals have a lot of compartment space in their brains for more things like speech, they'd simply be learning something that's as normal as breathing when it comes time for them to learn how to talk. So no worries, baby sign language doesn't delay speech.
7 It Can Be Taught to a 6-month Old Baby
It's unbelievable to learn that babies as young as 6 months can be taught baby sign language, but it really is dependent on us, the parents, and how we are committed to teaching our young children a language.
Parents who have no other means of communication but sign language teach their babies, some even as young as 4 months, and the baby is able to absorb it. Also, there is no age that says we can't teach them anymore. Try teaching a few important words first, like milk, eat, mom, dad, these signs are basic and can be mimicked easily.
6 It's Not The Same As Sign Language
What we need to understand about baby sign language is that it's not actually the same as sign language. What we are essentially teaching our children are signs that say a word, convey an emotion or express a need or want.
But in relation to sign language, this can't be used as a medium to express a complex thought. Imagine signing words and putting them together as a sentence, this could work, but when you convert that same idea to sign language, it would totally be a different one. But what's amazing is that babies will learn and pick up sign language like a spoken language, so lets' sign as much as we can around them.
5 First Word, First Sign
The excitement of having a baby do his or her first sign is as much as when they speak their first word. Again, the learning process is the same for these two modes of communication, so that translates to the same feeling of excitement, happiness and a proud sense of achievement when our baby finally correctly does a sign at the right moment when they are trying to express themselves.
When they say their first word, it's purely rote, but that doesn't diminish the fact that they said it and we're proud of that. Baby sign language when they do it properly has more substance.
4 Facial Expressions are Crucial
Emotions can best be expressed through our faces, so let's not focus on the sign we are doing when teaching it to our baby, but on what our face is telling them. Work the lips too, mouth those words and say them out loud.
This is why research says that a child who learns baby sign language sometimes learns speech faster than a child who didn't learn it. Have that eye contact as well, baby sign language also molds a level of connection between parent and child, something that's positive and is exactly a benefit of teaching baby sign language to our children.
3 Constant Practice, Then New Words, Then Practice Again
It can be frustrating, we will admit that, but we have to be a little more patient. Sometimes a child will not be able to do the sign, but that's expected. Some people still don't even know how to say "supposedly" correctly today, so just think of that. It really requires regular constant practice, and then more of it.
Then, we'd have to teach them new words as they grow and develop, we do the same process again of course. There are also other things that could help like starter kits and DVDs that teach a parent how to effectively teach baby sign language.
2 Communicating With Others
Now that our child has learned enough signs to express themselves, they are pretty confident doing it and we are proud to have been successful in this quest for a new language for the baby. Expect this kind of communication to be weird or unusual from the point of view of other people.
We might get the question of why they are signing and not speaking, if they are disabled in any way, and just be ready to answer them the best and most polite way we can. It could also frustrate our child when they are talking to someone who doesn't know baby sign language
1 Knowing What's Most Important
It's a proud moment having realized that we were able to teach our child baby sign language, and then knowing that they will eventually learn how to speak. That's one of the most important things, but there's more to it. The time we took to teach them are moments that are precious, it took us to a whole other level with them.
The bond, being together, and that parent-child connection is prize enough for us. Our hearts are stronger and our spirits livelier because of that, and we know that our baby deserves that much care, effort, time, and attention from us.