Little Signers Club Founder, Shelley, explores how baby sign meets your tot in the frustrating gap between complete understanding – but before speech.
Not just for babies (despite it’s name!) but an absolutely invaluable parenting tool for ALL families with an under 5 year old.
I love how sign language is so indicative of what it is trying to convey – you really feel the ‘rightness’ of the signs when you make them – and it is this embodiment of the word, through sign, that really embeds the meaning of the words for our little ones.
I’ve chosen to look at this important topic of language, observation and communication through the lens of the natural world – being out and about; exploring, discovering, sharing, wondering…
And you’d be amazed at the sheer capability of your baby, toddler or two to share with you what they’ve seen or what they want to know about.
But they need the right communication tools – tools that meet them where they are, developmentally.
Because, frustratingly, their speech isn’t yet developed enough to let you know how excited they are about the bird in the garden… or the flowers starting to peep out in the park… or that you rushed by a cat that they wanted to say hello to.
The World Around Us
Photograph by Alex Blăjan via Unsplash
As little one grows, they will be more and more curious about the world around them and want to know all about what they see.
And they’ll want to share what they see too.
Their most important person.
And with baby sign on your side, that is exactly what your tot will do.
‘I have been amazed at just how much my little man sees!’
In this utterly gorgeous video you’ll see two of our Little Signers showing us the sign for Bird.
Little ones are fascinated by the little birds that they see – out of the window or flying up to a tree.
The sign for Bird is really easy for little fingers to do because the pincer grip is one of the earliest of the fine motor skills to develop.
These Little Signers are able to share their world, not only with their important grown-ups, but their little friends too!
You’ll see that our two Little Signers are observing the world around them – and one of them is signing ‘bird’. There is also formative language (the word isn’t quite clear yet) from her gorgeous friend who is explaining to his Mama that the bird is now ‘gone’.
Look how happy they are to be able to share their conversation and be understood!
And with the right information, baby signing can help them to make sense of a busy world – your little one is wired for communication, observation and is taking every single thing in.
Signs add an extra layer of meaning and help the brain to understand language on both sides – as well as explore words kinaesthetically – perfect for action oriented little ones!
When we take the time to align with their interests, when we see the world through their eyes, there is wonder and awe and adventure with every single discovery.
Knowing preferences and likes makes such a huge difference to our small folk.
Being really able to connect with that, brings such closeness and joy – and means that you don’t miss out on this utterly remarkable unfolding of childhood.
Bird, Flowers, Rain and Look | British Sign Language (BSL) signs to try at home.
Say the word as you sign it, in context. Repeat – lots!
‘Her very first sign was bird. She also loves to do the sign for fish and always has a massive grin when doing that one. It’s lovely to see the satisfaction she gets from being able to communicate with signs.’
baby signing Mama to Phoebe, 13 months.
Children learn and absorb language in many different ways – auditory, visual and kinaesthetic processes. When they hear a word, it is a very short, auditory, set of sounds but when this set of sounds is boosted by a visual cue (like signing) it capitalises on your baby’s more developed visual strengths, helping them to learn more quickly.
In short, the more you say and sign a word to your baby, the more language connections and understanding they have in comparison to their peers, boosting IQ by up to 12 points*.
What did your little one want to stop and look at today?
* Acredolo and Goodwyn 2000: The Longterm Impact of Symbolic Gesturing During Infancy on IQ