The Low Down On: Baby Sign Language
What is baby sign language?
Baby sign language is a communication tool to be used with preverbal babies. Babies naturally use gestures before they can speak (reaching for a toy, pointing etc.) so expanding upon those gestures by teaching them sign language is a great way to start building communication skills. In North America, baby sign language instructors typically use ASL (American Sign Language) signs as the basis for teaching. It is important to note that, although ASL signs are used, you are not teaching your baby American Sign Language. You are simply using the exact sign for the exact English word.
Is my baby too old or too young for baby sign language?
I suggest starting baby sign between 6 months to 1 year of age. Although babies are listening to and deciphering language even in-utero, they do not typically respond to language until about 6 months. Waiting until this time increases the chances that the baby will respond to and possibly use the signs, which encourages parents and caregivers to continue to use signs consistently.
Why should we learn baby sign language?
Baby sign language is beneficial for you and your baby because it allows you communicate with each other. Rather than the parent guessing what the baby wants, the baby can communicate exactly what that need or want is. This can reduce the amount of frustration for the baby and parent or caregiver. Studies also show that signing babies tend to have larger vocabularies as they get older. One of the biggest reasons to start signing with your little one is the quality time you get to spend learning something new with your baby.
Will signing delay my baby’s speech?
The simple answer is no. There are no studies which link early signing to speech delays. Typically, if a child learns to sign and does not develop age appropriate language skills, it may be an indication of a pre-existing condition.
What can I expect from a baby sign language workshop?
Here at Speech Quest JCNY, workshops are one hour a week for 6 weeks. Parents and babies will come to class and learn together. Each parent is provided with a book and a CD for practicing at home. During each class you will learn new categories of signs (family signs, food signs, animal signs, etc.), signs for nursery rhymes and signs for some new songs! If there is time during the class you may also learn how to sign words from simple children’s books. Our baby sign language classes are unique because they are taught exclusively by licensed and certified speech language pathologists. We reserve time during each class to discuss any developmental questions about language that parents may have. We also encourage parents to get to know each other, which is why we reserve 10 minutes at the end of each class to mingle, it’s called our ‘Talk for 10’. You and your baby will leave each class knowing new signs and having a stronger connection with each other and the community.
I love this! Where can I sign up?
Head on over to www.SpeechQuestJCNY.com to register or to sign up for a free 20 minute preview class!
Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.