As a parent and teacher, I have witnessed the strong connections that signing makes between children and adults, and in little brains, and it is so fun and simple! I just love it!
Top 10 Reasons to Sign with your Baby or Toddler:
- Because babies can sign “I love you” before they can say it! I remember fondly my babies signing “I Love you” from their cribs to me.
- Signing strengthens the crucial parent-child bond through communication, understanding, and insight. And the whole family can be involved! MJ (at 2-4) continued signing when Ellie was a baby, and enjoyed helping with the communication. It was good for him, too!
- Signing strengthens the language pathways of the brain and advances verbal development. Research shows that children who have signed speak more and sooner. (But remember, all kids develop at their own pace, and usually boys are behind girls verbally.)
- Signing strengthens fine motor skills, expressiveness, attention span, and empathy. In addition to all the finger/ hand/ and arm coordination, think of the the facial expressions that go along with “dirty” and “surprised,” the attentiveness to another person’s face – both greatly strengthening a child’s social development.
- Signing increases self-awareness and self-esteem for the child as he or she is able to communicate feelings, thoughts, and desires. (To be seen and “heard”.) Whether it’s that your baby hears a bird, wants more cookies, or has an earache, think of the relief he must feel at being able to get his important messages across to you, the center of his universe!
- For the same reasons, signing reduces frustration and upset (even tantrums) for a young child (and her parents). When your baby knows you know what she wants, she can more easily accept a “no” or see that you’re working on it….(My babies learned to sign “wait”!) Not knowing is frustrating for EVERYONE!
- Signing motivates the parent to continue teaching and talking, and to increase communication, because we see evidence that baby understands! When you’re putting out all this effort and energy to communicate with this little lump of clay before it even responds to you with a smile, it is SO encouraging to see her look at the “light” or “fan” when you sign it – it’s BIG “aha”:She has a brain! She’s already making connections! It’s working! Otherwise, you might just ignore the poor kid.
- Signing helps you to SLOW down and notice your surroundings with a baby…to become aware of what they notice through sight, sound, and touch, so that you can then offer further teaching and connection. MJ used to sign “listen” when he heard a sound, and draw my attention to it: “Oh, you hear the washing machine!”
- Signing naturally fits into your daily routines, and pairs naturally with music and play; 3 elements that are key in healthy child development. And it’s fun!
- Children are kinesthetic learners, and movement makes for stronger brain connections. Signing = smarter kids, bigger vocabulary.
- (Bonus, I know) You can get your baby into the habit of using good manners before they can even speak. “Please” and “Thank You.”
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