If you run a day center for young children one of your problems is how do you communicate with your young charges when they are too young to speak? Well now you can use 'baby sign'.
What Is It?
Baby sign is a way for young babies to communicate with their carers before they learn to talk. Based on ASL (American Sign Language) or BSL (British Sign Language) they use simple signs that a baby can easily learn so that they can ask for 'milk' or say they are 'wet' or 'dirty'. They can even make up simple sentences, well before they can speak.
How Does It Benefit?
Babies who know how to sign are less frustrated and have fewer tears and tantrums trying to communicate with adults who don't understand what they want. If you are looking after a lot of children, imagine how much easier it will be to care for them if they all communicate using the same signs instead of you having to work out what each of them wants by guesswork.
Isn't Signing For Deaf People?
Yes, usually it is deaf people who use sign language, but now with the world-wide 'baby sign movement' lots of hearing parents are teaching their toddlers and young babies to sign. And because 'babysign' is based on ASL or BSL both you and your small charges will be able to sign with deaf people in the neighborhood too!
Will It Affect Speech Development?
No. Leading baby sign experts' research shows that babies taught to sign actually have better vocabularies when they do start to speak. By helping children to communicate easily with adults, baby sign gives young children more incentive to speak. Because caregivers respond to signs the baby makes with speech as well as sign, as the baby gets old enough to talk the baby also will use both sign and speech. In fact, learning 'baby sign' gives the baby a head start in language acquisition. Children who have learned baby sign also appear to have better IQ's and more self-esteem and self-confidence.
What Age Can They Start?
You can start using sign with a baby as soon as you like, and you can actively teach a baby sign language from about six months. Depending on how old the baby is when they start, they will start to use the signs themselves about 4-6 weeks after being introduced to a sign.
Which Signs Should They Learn First?
Start with signs like 'milk' 'more' 'juice' and so on. Only introduce one or two signs at a time. As the baby starts to sign back you can gradually introduce more signs.
If you want to introduce 'baby sign' as an activity in your day care center there are various ways to learn 'baby sign'. You can choose from DVD's, sites like YouTube, or certified centers of baby sign. There is even an iPhone application you can download!