I talk to a lot of parents about signing with their babies–and about 75% of those conversations go exactly like this:
Them: “Oh, we signed with Susie!”
Me: “Awesome! Signing has so many benefits for children!”
Them: “Mm-hm. We did MILK, MORE, and ALL DONE. And then Susie started talking, so we stopped.”
Me: **awkward end of conversation**
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of signing with babies.
AND school-age children!
I’ll say it again: American Sign Language is its own language with its own rules and grammar. Children don’t outgrow sign language just because they’re already speaking!
I wrote a post called Beyond Baby Signs back in July, but I think signing with toddlers is SO important that I’m here to tell you all about it again.
WHY should I sign with my toddler?
(As Rachel Coleman says, “Why wouldn’t you?”)
Here are a few more reasons:
- Signing reduces frustration—your child can tell you exactly what they need!
- Signing improves confidence and self-esteem.
- Signing increases vocabulary and helps children play with words (use the “grumpy” sign for angry, annoyed, frustrated, etc.).
- Signing teaches children to decode non-verbal clues, like facial expressions.
- Signing allows parents to communicate privately (no, wait, be nice, I love you, etc.).
|Oh man, what a trip, looking at pictures of Kate when she was 12-15 mos old. 🙂
Toddlers have SUCH a range of emotion.
So, if your toddler is acquiring speech, but you’re not ready to give up on signing, here’s what I recommend:
- Start with manners! Your child wants MORE? Add in a PLEASE! Work on NO, THANK YOU. 🙂
- Take signing away from the table–learn signs for bath time, bedtime, playtime! MORE BUBBLES! ALL DONE with the PUZZLE!
- Add in colors! Your child knows BALL? BIRD? CAR? Start building phrases with adjectives! (Brown Bear, Brown Bear is great for this!)
- Follow your child’s passions! There are THIRTY Signing Time/Baby Signing Time DVDs available at the library, so there really is something for everyone!