Signing with Little Ones
You may know it as 'Baby Sign' or 'Baby Sign Language' but as it's great for Toddlers too, we like to use the phrase 'Signing with Little Ones'.
Communicating using Gestures
Kids are amazing! Right from when they are born, they are instinctively trying to communicate with us.
If we look at the typical development stages, children can use gestures before they can clearly speak and it's this phase that creates a wonderful opportunity. Common gestures include waving, clapping, blowing kisses, pointing, raised arms - we can add to this heartwarming list and build in some practical and fun actions too.
Instead of making up your own gestures, families can use already established 'signs' from an official sign language and in our case, New Zealand Sign Language is New Zealand's third official language and what we use in our classes.
Parents choose a few important words to sign whilst talking to their little one, this then helps their child identify and understand the key words sooner.
When the child is developmentally able to, they can then communicate using these signs. It provides the child a way of letting caregivers know what they want, how they are feeling or things they have observed.
As the child begins to talk, it helps support those early words and phrases (you know the ones... when you have no idea what they are saying!). Once their words are clear and understood, the signs just tend to drop away naturally.
Signing with your Little One offers numerous and wonderful benefits for your child and the whole family.
Just some of the rewards are shown below and split broadly into three categories; emotional, practical and developmental.
Great news too! You can experience many of these benefits even before your baby or toddler starts signing back to you.
Engaging way to interact with each other
Increased focus on each other
Reduces frustration for baby AND parent
It can Improve Self Esteem – being listened to & reacted upon
Builds on the primary caregiver bond
Encourages fun family orientated activities like singing, nursery rhymes, reading books etc all whilst signing!
Communicate earlier with sign than spoken words
Helps clarify communication (for both parent & their little one)
Signposts key words for baby
Provides a means to communicate needs & wants
Helps parents interpret those early words
Can sign across the room / playground
Builds on children's natural inclination to gesture
Aides development of fine motor skills
Stimulates both sides of the brain at the same time
Encourages early development of speech and vocabulary
Building blocks of communication eg shared attention and turn taking