You may be wondering what is "Baby Sign Language." To understand the baby's signing, we can start with Sign Language. Most of us already know about Sign Language, a language that uses visual signals and gestures to communicate ideas. But wait, Baby Language is used with hearing babies, not hard of hearing. Why? Because babies are born without the ability to communicate verbally. Their muscles are not developed yet to produce sounds that create words (like "mama" for "mother"). How do they communicate? They cry!
Baby sign language (or baby signing) is a communication method for infants and toddlers based on symbolic movements just like Sign Language. You can learn the program online or in group settings. At SignShine, parents learn how to teach their children Baby signing to ease the frustration created by not understanding each other. Baby Sign Language takes signs from American Sign Language and British Sign Language and adapts them, making them easier for children to use.
Because babies and toddlers can learn how to mimic and interpret what they see around them early on, baby signing is a very effective tool they can use to "talk" to their parents before they've learned to actually talk! In fact, even though the critical period for learning language starts at 16 months old, children who learn signing start reproducing the gestures at around 8 - 10 months, over a year before that!
Baby Sign language is an incredibly valuable way for parents to connect with their kids, and it helps children with much more than communication. Parents who are interested in becoming more in tune with their kids and supporting their kids' personal growth can benefit from signing classes.
Research by Acredolo and Goodwin finds that babies who use Baby Sign Langauge learn to speak faster and grow a larger vocabulary. Moreover, children who sign have 12 higher IQ points than those who do not, as they simultaneously use the left side of their brains. Fascinating, right?!
Are you curious about signing with your child? The benefits are many. Here are several skill sets and benefits of Baby Sign Language explaining how any child can experience exploring, communicating, and learning!
Benefits of Signing with babies and Toddlers:
● Expressing Needs
Signing allows children to communicate important needs to parents, such as hunger, thirst, tiredness, etc. The signs for these basic needs are especially easy for kids to do, enabling them to use them early on whenever they want those needs met.
Signs: MILK, WATER
● Articulating Wants
Not only can signing help with expressing needs, but also with articulating wants. When kids learn to articulate through specific signs, they have the tools to express what exactly they want and can communicate without frustration. For example, during playtime, we can ask the child if they want a specific toy and empower him/her to express her desires.
Signs: BALL, TOY
● Reading Facial Expressions
Sign language bases communication on gestures with hands and faces rather than just speech. Children who practice signing are more likely to understand social cues and connect better to others. Today, as the use of social media and smartphones increases, the future generation may be confused about interacting in person. Still, children who sign can learn to be better at reading social cues.
Signs: GOOD MORNING, CURIOUS
● Setting a Foundation for Verbal Language Learning
The functional signing sets a strong foundation when it comes to learning a language. In addition, verbal language learning may be easier for children who know how to sign because they have already been exposed to a language system for communication.
Signs: WAIT, HELP
● Understanding Emotions
Understanding emotions is a very important advantage of learning baby sign language. Children can learn to grasp their feelings through functional sign language better because they have a way to express those feelings clearly. This is a crucial point in raising a child with developing emotional intelligence.
Signs: HAPPY, FRUSTRATED
● Encouraging Healthy Parent-Child Bonds
Because signing improves the communication skills of children, it naturally improves the overall bond between children and their parents. When parents learn to sign along with their children, they can be more in tune with their children and more responsive to their kids' needs and wants. SignShine's app is an app that provides popular and classic children's songs in Sign Language. You can learn any popular children's song and sign and sign it with your child.
Signs: ITSY SPIDER, BUS
● Increasing Self-Esteem
Did you know there is evidence supporting the idea that functional signing may support a child's self-esteem? This can be linked to the ability of kids who learn signs to understand their wants, needs, and feelings by learning how to express them. When a child is understood and heard, her self-esteem is higher.
Signs: I FEEL, I LIKE
● Supplementing Education
Education and Baby Sign Language seem to go hand-in-hand, as sign language can support the topics kids learn about in kindergarten and elementary school. As children learn in school, they can learn to sign the same ideas, bettering their overall education. SignShine classes incorporate signs into popular children's songs and communication activities that will be useful in school!
Signs: MY TURN, TEACHER
● Supporting Muscle Memory
Like any other language, sign language relies on memory. What is special about sign language is that it relies on muscle memory since it involves moving hands, faces, and bodies. Children who learn it develop a strong sense of muscle memory earlier on. Signs: COLORS, OPPOSITES
● Connecting to the World and Themselves
Kids want to explore their environment as they grow, and as they grow, they also learn more about themselves. So not only does sign language allow kids to communicate with the world around them, but it also encourages them to understand their thoughts.
Signs: I LOVE YOU
These are some of the many significant benefits of Baby Sign Language that come with learning sign language. With consistent learning and practice, kids can improve their communication and understanding of self, and parents can promote healthy child development.
If you reside in Los Angeles, you can take SignShine's group or private classes to enhance your child's communication, verbal skills, and emotional and social development. In addition, SignShine offers a support group for parents and playtime for children. They emphasize healthy communication through music, singing, movement, reading, baby sign language, and other fun, educational and engaging activities that create unique bonding experiences and learning for you and your child.