Saturday, July 18, 2009

Baby Signs

I can't say enough good things about teaching your children Baby Signs. I firmly believe that you should use a program that is based in ASL (American Sign Language) because if you are going to teach a second language, it should be a real language! (There are some 'baby sign' programs that make up signs that only you and your child would recognize.)

Anyway, what brings this up tonight is I got to thinking about how well Maddie and Izzie can (usually) communicate what they want/need to us now at 17 months. They are very vocal, so the people out there who think teaching sign language will delay spoken language are wrong. It does cut down on temper tantrums (although we do still have some.) For instance, Izzie says the "Ha" sound for Hat, Heart and Hot. She also knows the signs for Hat and Hot. (I keep meaning to look up heart!) If it wasn't for the fact that she can sign two of the three I would never have figured out that she wanted me to draw her a heart one day. (Minor temper tantrum averted!) Another example, both girls call their diapers "bops" I think from the P sound in diaPer. Anyway, one day Izzie came up to me and said, "bop" while signing diaper. I checked and sure enough, she had a dirty diaper. I would have thought she was just jabbering if it hadn't been for the sign.

They do say complete words very clearly too, but think about it, they only have 6 teeth. They physically CANNOT say certain sounds and yet they know what those words ARE. How frustrating for the child that wants to communicate but physically can't! Sometimes they sign "wrong" but as the parent you sign correctly and they eventually master the muscle control to make the sign correctly. (By the way, for those contemplating teaching their kids sign, it is a slow process in the beginning. We started with MILK at 6 mo. They signed it for the first time at 10 mo. They only signed about 3 words by age 12 mo. Now though they are picking up new signs as fast as we can teach them!)

Tonight, I think signing saved us from what could have potentially been a pretty rough evening. Like I mentioned earlier, we went out in our sandbox for oh, one minute, before I realized it was more of a swamp than a sandbox. I didn't even notice that Izzie had sat in the sand. We played in the pool, but they mostly walked around, I don't think they sat in the water. Fast forward an hour or so. Izzie has a dirty diaper. John being the most terrific husband and father that he is, went to change dirty diaper. He cleaned her up, but didn't notice the fine grains of sand is some of her more girly areas. (Don't forget, he is a boy.) He scooped her up and put her on the ground. She came running to me and signed "HURT" while pointing to her diaper. So I immediatly ask John if she had a diaper rash. He said he didn't notice one. But here is Izzie pointing to her diaper and then signing "hurt" over and over again. So, I check things out. Sure enough (being a girl myself) I notice fine grains of sand in areas that you DON'T want sand. Yep. Hurt, Itch, Uncomfortable... just a few words to describe what poor BooBoo (our nickname for her when she's upset) was feeling.

And to think. I was going to skip baths tonight. We wouldn't have looked as closely at her diaper if she wasn't signing HURT. We would have put her to bed and she would have cried. We might have thought, oh it was such a busy day, she's over tired. Perhaps eventually something would have clicked. I can't tell what might have been. I do know what was. We took a fun bath, got all nice and clean and went straight to bed without even a whimper.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Baby Signs???


Unknown said...

LOL! You'll enjoy this article I just posted!

Amanda said...

Neat! It's good to hear other awesome experiences with signs. Sounds like our kids were pretty much on the same path as far as vocab. I was thinking, I don't know I can even count the words my girls know. They speak/sign SO many at 18 mo!

Liv'sMom said...

I dont' know if you ahve found the sign for heart yet, but you use both middle fingers, touch them at your heart then bring them up and around to form a heart shape.

Keith and Jessica said...

We love signing too. We don't as many as you do but it definitely helps us communicate and avoid *some* tantrums.

Heather said...

As an expectant first time mom I'm looking into all things baby. Where did you learn sign language? Did you have the best experience with books, videos and which ones worked best for you? I know we are hesitant to have tv in any form around the baby to begin with for several reasons, but that wouldn't stop us from learning that way.

dittdott said...

Sorry it's taken two days to get back to you! I took sign language in High School, but believe me when I say I don't remember much of it at all from that! I learned along with the girls. We started out with "milk" "more" "all done" and until they got those three I really didn't expand. Around 10 months (which is a bit early) they would start to sign milk WHILE I was nursing. They didn't "ask" for it before hand but that was still a big step!

Then they started signing it as they saw me about to nurse. Around 14 months they were signing quite a few words, and using them to communicate. But it seemed like we hit a wall. One of my friends recommend Signing Times from her childs therapist. We started watching the videos only one a day at the most, (20ish min.) They watched NO other tv, since my goal was no tv until 2. I am glad we made the exception.

They started signing like fiends! And they were using their signs along with words. Now they are three and we don't sign very much at all, but they have a HUGE vocabulary y for a three year old. They got use d to at a very early age asking what a "sign" was for any word. Now they ask what words mean all the time. They use words like: initiative, distorted, responsibility, decay and lots of other words I don't hear other 3 yr olds saying!

So to summarize: I highly recommend Signing Times, don't buy the "baby signs" and I'd say around 14 months is the earliest you'd want to start the videos. Other than that, books, flashcards (for you not them) and the internet are great tools.