More and more parents are discovering the many benefits of baby sign language, including the simple fact that it’s fun! It is so cute watching your little one communicate with those chubby little hands! But there’s a practical side to baby sign too!
Studies show that baby sign language helps with speech development. Signing toddlers learn to speak sooner, and develop larger vocabularies than non-signing toddlers. They’ve also been shown to have higher reading levels once they learn to read. One study even suggested that baby sign language can increase a baby’s IQ!
As we know, many children with Down syndrome have speech delays. They can often understand us perfectly, but don’t yet have the ability to speak to us. This can cause enormous frustration for any child! Sign language can help alleviate this frustration, which, of course, makes life easier for everyone in the family, especially the signing child!
So, signing can make for a happier child. It can also help build a child’s confidence. Many children become more comfortable with social interactions once they learn a few signs. Signing can empower them!
Children with Down syndrome are very often visual learners, and they can take very quickly to sign language. For many children, signing seems to come naturally to them. (Of course, this is after they see their parents sign something a hundred times!) Children will naturally gesture to communicate. Sign language just helps everyone understand these gestures!
And getting started is easier than you might think. First of all, use us at BabySignLanguage.com. We are free. Our site offers instructional videos, a sign language dictionary (based on American Sign Language), printable flash cards, and a printable wall chart. Everything is free. We are here to help. And we hope to create a community that allows parents to help one another, so ask your questions, share your tips, and offer your support!
We recommend starting slow. Depending on the age of your child when you begin, you might want to start with one to five signs. Learn these signs yourself (it’s easier than you think), and then use these signs every time you say the corresponding word. So, every time you say the word “book,” make the sign for book. It won’t take long for your child to associate your gesture with its meaning. Then, you will likely see your child imitate your gesture when you make it. And eventually, your child will use this gesture spontaneously to communicate the idea of “book”!
Just remember to always tie the spoken word to the sign. While it can be tempting to just use the sign independently, remember that speech is our end goal, so be sure to encourage vocalizations as well as signing. (Though if you’re tempted to sign “Stop!” in church, go ahead – it’s a great trick!)
This article was provided by babysignlanguage.com a website featuring
digital resources including a baby sign language dictionary, baby sign
language flash cards, and baby sign language wall chart 100% free.