Many parents ask me why they should teach their child sign language, when their language development isn’t delayed. Typically developing children who are taught a handful of signs as babies often begin speaking sooner than children who aren’t. Why wouldn’t you want to give your child the power of communication to decrease their frustration?
The best way to begin to teach your child sign language is during everyday activities, such as mealtime. Meals are a perfect way to include the entire family in the process. Older children seem to enjoy teaching their siblings signs. Your child will be more successful at learning new signs if all family members use the signs with him/her.
Depending on your child’s age, start with 1 to 2 new signs when introducing new vocabulary. Once your child starts to use the new signs consistently, introduce 1 to 2 more new ones. It is okay if your child has a difficult time using the precise hand shapes of each sign. Accuracy of the signs will improve as your child’s fine motor skills improve. In the video examples, my three year old has a difficult time signing “bowl” and “spoon” accurately, but his approximations are close.
Teach Your Child Sign Language During Mealtime
The sign for “eat” is made by placing your fingers and thumb together and tapping your mouth several times.
The sign for “hungry” is made by placing your right hand in the shape of a “C” at your throat. Then move your hand down to your stomach.
The sign for “bowl” is made by slighting curving both hands hands and touching your finger tips together (palms facing up). Move your hands out and up, making the shape of a bowl.
The sign for “spoon” is made by holding your left palm up near your stomach and placing your right hand in the letter “h” on top of the left hand. Move your right hand toward your mouth, as if you are scooping with your spoon.
Please refer to ASL University for a more detailed demonstration of “spoon”.
The sign “finish” is made by placing both your open hands in front of you (fingers pointed upward). Then twist both hands ending with your palms pointed slightly forward.
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How to Teach Your Child Sign Language with a Giveaway!
Xander and I had the pleasure of reviewing the book Let’s Sign: Every Baby’s Guide to Communicating with Grownups written by Kelly Ault and Illustrated by Leo Landry. The book teaches signs focused around everyday activities: mealtime, playtime and bedtime. The illustrations include colorful hand drawn children with simple directions for each sign.
This is the first time I have used a book to teach Xander sign language. He has enjoyed looking at the book while I’m teaching him new signs. Over the past few days he has been more interested in the sign for certain words and frequently asks me to look in his dictionary for the sign. I love to watch a child’s excitement when using books to learn new skills and have really enjoyed using Let’s Sign with Xander.
Let’s Sign: Every Baby’s Guide to Communicating with Grownups is a great way to get your child interested in using sign language in a variety of settings. One lucky reader will win a copy of the book!
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