Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Teaching Anthony to Sign

I started signing with Anthony a couple weeks after he was born. I began by signing milk whenever I nursed him, and my husband and I were shocked when he started to sign it back at 6 months. (It's not normal to sign this young. Most kids start signing between 8-10 months) We then chose a few more signs to introduce that we thought would be helpful: mom, dad, more, eat, drink, help, finished, please, thank you. I had read that the best way to teach is just to use the sign whenever you say the word. It should not be a forced thing, and your child may not even appear to be watching you.

Each time Anthony started signing a new sign, we'd add a new one. I started a list of things we said to him on a regular basis and these are the signs I would choose from. If I couldn't remember how to sign something, I would look it up online (always check a couple sites to make sure it's correct) or look in an ASL dictionary I check out from the Library occasionally. I also found a great DVD series! I've read a lot of articles that say watching "educational" shows are not actually beneficial. While that may be true of some shows, I completely disagree when it comes to the "Signing Time" series. I now have 4 of the DVD's and Anthony has mastered all of the signs on them. He sits on the couch and signs along with them. He's so proud of himself... he gets so excited to show you he knows how to sign the sign too. One thing to remember is that when your child learns a sign they will modify it slightly to make it easier. I've noticed as Anthony gets older he is starting to use the "correct" form of the sign.

So why do I think signing is so great?

-I was able to communicate with Anthony way before he was verbally able to express himself
-He has never cried out of frustration. He cries when he's told no, or gets hurt, but he never cries for no reason.
-It's fun! I loved sitting down to read books with him before he could say much because he would sign to me about what's going on. I had no idea he understood what I was saying until he started pointing to things and signing it. (Of course I still love reading to him now, I was just amazed at his capability to understand so much when he was still so young.)
-It's been helpful in teaching him Spanish. For instance, instead of saying "milk" while signing it, I say "leche."
-He was talking much sooner than others his age. I've heard so many people say they won't teach their kids how to sign because then they won't want to talk. SO not true!
-I can't remember a time when I had no idea what he wanted or needed. Between signing and talking he has been able to communicate what he thinks, needs, or feels.

Anthony is now 19 months, and he knows more signs than I can count. His latest favorites are roller skate, guitar, sit, book, play, and no. He also has made up some of his own signs, especially for food items. "Toast" is one of the signs he has recently made up and uses constantly. Amazingly, it is very close to what the actual sign is.

So Christina, and anyone else out there who wants to sign with their children, I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.

I attached a video from Signing Time that I found on YouTube. It's a cute Valentine's Day clip :o)


1 comment:

Christina said...

I definitely think it's time to break out those flashcards I bought... because I've got some learning to do!

I loved reading this post, Laura, and seeing someone I know who has had success with the process.

Yay! Thanks!