It’s so important to teach our children how to communicate with us even before they use real words. We taught both of our boys sign language. Giving them a means to meet their needs without crying and frustration made a world of difference in our children’s development. As a special education teacher, I have used sign language in my classroom, therefore already knew several signs that would be appropriate. I taught my husband and many basic and most used signs because kids need consistent repetitive modeling in order to learn the signs quickly. We use the signs more, all done, sleep, bath, milk, eat, drink, play, music, stop, go, help, mommy and daddy the most. It is so rewarding as a parent to see the smile on my baby’s face when he signs more and gets more of what he wants.
There are several resources (books, video, websites) available to teach yourself and your child baby sign language. We have the DVD Baby Einstein: My First Signs and would watch it with our boys to aid in their instruction. There is also a website called Baby Sign Language that provides online learning as well as free reproducibles for home use. They also provide some research information explaining the benefits of teaching our children sign language at an early age. In fact, the site states that in an NIH study
, children’s IQ scores at age 8 were 12 points higher if they received sign language instruction in comparison to children who did not receive sign language instruction.
We are thankful we taught our boys how to use sign language to “speak” with us while their expressive language was developing. It allowed them to tell us what they wanted without us having to guess and it created much less frustration for our children and for us.