Benefits of Baby Signing
Author - Sara @ The Little Signers
(photo taken pre-covid 19)
One of the first courses I signed up to with my first son was a baby signing course. Admittedly, there were times when I was left signing to myself as he had wondered off having just discovered his ability to crawl at a rapid pace! However, it was fantastic to be able to communicate with him on some level and for him to be able to express himself in those early years when his speech was developing.
I’ve teamed up with the lovely Sarah at the Little Signers Club. Sarah has put together this fantastic guide on baby signing. If you are thinking about putting your name down for a baby signing course either online or face to face but you're not sure, this guide should help you decide and if you know someone that would enjoy learning more about the benefits of signing with your baby, please share.
About little Signers Club.
Taught by experts ~ delivered with love.
Little Signers Club delivers award-winning children’s books and British Sign Language (BSL) based baby signing classes to thousands of families across the UK - and beyond, through its network of qualified, experienced and passionate leaders.
What is baby signing?
Every parent is looking for the right tools to use with their children and these tools are quite literally in your hands! Using sign language with little people is ALL about preverbal communication before speech develops. Simply put we are harnessing and extending the natural process of gestures and showing little ones how to use their hands to communicate their wants and needs. All babies will naturally reach for objects, clap, wave and point. Baby signing extends that to a much wider set of gestures for communication before speech.
The first two years of a child’s life can be a very frustrating time because their ability to talk either hasn’t yet developed or is still developing. This can make communication very much a guessing game…. Are they hungry? Thirsty? Do they need a nappy change? I always like to use this as an opportunity to take some perspective. Can you remember a time you struggled to communicate? Mine was while back-packing through South America with my younger sister and being HOPELESS at speaking Spanish - I can remember so clearly how frustrating it was and how my body language and gestures took over as a means of communication when I couldn’t effectively communicate through speech. Your little ones will often know what they want to say but not be able to tell you through speech. So why not harness your baby’s motor skills, which develop so much earlier than speech, instead? Baby signing is about bridging the communication gap and it acts as the perfect platform for speech, language and communication, opening up an early window into your child’s mind.
The research behind baby signing.
Dr Joseph Garcia, the world’s leading expert on using sign language with infants discovered that young children who can hear, who are taught to use their hands to 'talk' (alongside speech), can have as many as 75 signs by the age of 9 months. To put that in perspective (and link it to baby speech and language development), at a year old your little one might - only might - have ten words, most of which will be unintelligible and only understood by people who are very close to them. So, there is one HUGE benefit; but what other benefits does baby signing bring?
Other benefits of baby signing?
- Clarity and connection; meaningful, clear, communication exchanges between you and your little one, before speech has developed.
Calm and content; signing gives babies means to express themselves before tears; calmer communication means that you are much more likely to get it right between you and baby so there is less frustration and far fewer tantrums and tears.
- Happy brains; baby signing supports emotional development and provides the necessary layers for secure attachment (responsive caregiving). It gives your little one the tools to tell you what they need BEFORE they feel the need to tell you how urgent it is with crying. This vastly reduces the stress that they carry around in their small bodies and the release of the stress hormone cortisol in their bloodstream. More importantly, it helps them to feel secure - quickly and easily. Baby signing increases positive, fun and supportive experiences, helping to build a happy brain.
- A peep into your baby’s world; baby signing truly shows you what rich comprehension your baby has for the world around them.
- Trust and togetherness; building parental trust and understanding and strengthening the bond between you.
- Confidence and capability; every sign that your baby learns gives them a wonderful sense of accomplishment, which in turn boosts their developing self-esteem, confidence and trust in their inherent capability.
- Chatty children; many parents worry signing will delay speech development, but in fact signing has been shown to do the opposite. Babies who sign tend to have enhanced communication skills, speak sooner and have larger vocabularies when they do start talking. Studies suggest signing babies and toddlers are ahead of the game by 12 IQ points (Acredolo and Goodwyn, 2000)
- A head start; babies who sign are generally kept busier linking objects and actions with words, gestures and outcomes; this fires up all the neural pathways in their brains strengthening connections and making it a hive of activity. Little ones who are able to express themselves with sign language develop great play skills and just love problem solving.
- Babyhood and beyond; signing is a brilliant way to strengthen the bones in little hands and develops dexterity in tiny fingers. This gentle and fun approach to fine motor skill development means that your little one will be able to hold their pen more easily and gain earlier independence with life skills like doing up buttons and zips. Amazing!
How do I know my little one is ready to start signing?
Can your baby clap and wave? If they are clapping and waving these are good indications of readiness for signing as it means their gross motor skills are sufficiently developed to control simple signs. The best way for your baby to learn these skills is through imitation. ‘Wind the Bobbin Up’ is the perfect song to start singing with your little one to encourage these skills.
Will baby signing work for me?
Yes. It really, really, will. BUT, like anything worthwhile it needs a little commitment - and a sprinkling of Little Signers Club magic will guide you to baby signing mastery. Baby signing is for everyone. Babies that can hear and babies that can’t - all ages and abilities, and any grown-up who wants to help their little one on their journey to be a confident and capable communicator.
‘Put in the effort at the beginning and once your baby starts signing it really pays off - It’s like opening a box of treasure!’ - baby signing Mama, Rachel.
So, what can you expect from one of my baby signing courses?
I’m delighted to be offering both online and face to face classes in the current climate for something to suit everyone. My face to face and online classes differ slightly with content but both include a lovely 8-week course called Baby Signing Basics ™. This course is suitable for babies aged 5-18 months and gradually builds on your signing knowledge. Classes are linked to core needs and activities aligning with your little one's development. I’m also going to be offering some wonderful one-off classes from our Sing Sing, Sign and Rhyme™ package. These sessions are suitable for little ones of all ages and are based around an engaging theme each week, there is plenty of singing, signing and popular rhymes to gently engage your baby or toddler. In addition, baby signing introductory workshops are available to have a little taster of what baby signing is all about.
A Big Thank you to Sarah for sharing her knowledge on baby signing and the benefits.
You can find out more about the Little Signers club here https://www.littlesignersclub.co.uk/babysigning-south-bucks-rickmansworth/
#babysigning #babyclasses #babydevelopment