Saturday, September 18, 2010

Baby Sign Language - Guest Post

We seem to be in baby mode around here since we are discussing ways to save money on diapers.  Now seems as good of a time as any to share this guest post about using sign language with your baby.  I taught all my kiddos a little bit of sign language when they were babies.  The first one I always did was "more," followed by "all done" and then "please".  Once I taught my oldest to sign "please," a lot of her whining stopped.  Instead she just stood there and frantically rubbed her chest.  It was pretty funny.

Anyway, here is the guest post:

10 Tips for Teaching Your Baby Sign Language

1.  Build a support network! The bigger your team, the better! Recruit your spouse, your other children, childcare providers (even part-time babysitters), grandparents, and even friends! Teach them a few basic signs and encourage them to interact with your baby!

2.  Be as consistent as possible. Progress will be slow if you only sign once in a while. Try to make the corresponding sign every single time you say the word. (And make sure you say the word every time you make the sign!)

3.  Make eye contact while signing. This will help your baby learn the signs and words you are trying to teach.

4.  Enunciate clearly. Though you may feel a bit silly, try to speak as clearly as possible, making sure that your baby can hear each syllable and letter. Sometimes it is tempting to leave off the ends of words. Think of how we say the word “milk.” If we just use the word in normal conversation, we probably don’t put a lot of emphasis on that “k” sound. Be sure to pronounce the entire word when teaching it to your baby!

5.  Use body language. If you are teaching the sign for the word “hot,” you can use your whole body! Act as if you’ve really burned yourself! Relive your moments in the high school drama club!

6.  If you think your baby is ready, you can gently help him form his hand into the shape of a sign. Then be sure to praise him for trying!

7.  Hang up flashcards for the signs you are trying to learn. Though they may not go with your décor, they are worth it! You can get these flashcards for free from Baby Sign Language.

8.  Play Baby Sign Language games. Make up silly songs that incorporate the signs you are trying to teach, and sign as you sing! Or, play “hide, sign, and seek.” Are you learning the sign for apple? Hide the apple under a dish towel. Say, “Where’s the apple?” and make the sign for apple. Then find the apple! Chances are your baby will think this is great fun!

9.  Remain positive. Even if you get frustrated, don’t let your baby know it, as this may upset her and prevent her from trying to sign. Remember that this is not a race – there is no pressure!

10.  Are you ready for the most important tip for teaching your baby sign language? The best advice I can give you – hands down (sorry, I couldn’t resist) – is to have fun. Too often we overlook this basic rule, but Baby Sign Languageis supposed to be a fun way to bond with your baby.  It’s a chance for you to learn more about him and to teach him about language and communication. If it’s not fun, then it’s just not worth it. So go ahead and laugh a little! Before long, this baby will be talking like a teenager . (Yikes!)

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