Are there benefits to teaching your child baby sign language? Although some studies point to increased intellectual development, the primary benefit of using baby sign language is decreased frustration for both you, your daycare provider, and your baby. Babies can use sign language to communicate their wants and needs long before they begin using words. Premier Academy daycare introduces infants to sign language around eight months old.
Children who can express themselves are more likely to feel happier and more confident. Infants who are taught signs have fewer episodes of crying or temper tantrums. Parents also report feeling more confident because they have a better understanding of how to respond to their babies.
Some parents and childcare teachers have expressed concern that teaching infant sign language may hinder verbal language development. Research has shown the opposite to be true. Studies find that children who have been taught sign language may be a step ahead of children whose parents only encouraged vocal communication. Learning sign language may make other types of communication easier for your child to learn.
Best of all, teaching sign language to babies is easy!
Infant Sign Language Tips
- Start small. Do some research on sign language books or websites to learn the basics. Your child’squality childcare center will be able to provide you with more information about the best signs to start with. Choose signs for words that will be used frequently by your baby, such as please, more, ball, or drink. To start, only teach your child three to five words.
- Use signs during normal everyday routines and activities. Saying the word as you make the sign will help your baby learn sign language. For example, if your baby reaches for more food, say “more” while making the sign with your hands. Then give your baby their food as reinforcement. Consistently make this sign every time your baby asks for more food. Be sure to give lots of encouragement when your baby makes a sign independently. Say, “You did it! You told me you want more!”
- Allow your baby to set the pace and progress slowly. As your baby masters initial signs, you can add a few more. Remember, though, your goal isn’t to make your child fluent in sign language so much as providing another way to communicate until verbal skills develop. Stick with basic signs for words that your child uses every day and introduce only a couple at a time. Premier Academy daycare is dedicated to being the best childcare for facilitating amazing communication skills, and social and emotional growth for your infant.
- Keep it fun. Be sure to keep lessons brief and fun. The point of teaching sign language is to reduce frustration, simplify communication, and connect with your baby in a meaningful way.