I first began to sense the glimmer of excitement of being able to communicate with my little one someday through sign language. It’s funny how the mind works, and it takes a lot to imagine your child signing back at you. I remember the other day when my little one created a grasping motion with her hand while we were nursing directly after I had shown her how to say the word milk in sign language. Although it was probably just a coincidence, I couldn’t help but wonder could this be my little one repeating back to me the word “milk”? You can imagine the excitement I had for a moment, but then it caught up to me, that she was only 5 months old. Most babies don’t start signing that young. It must be a coincidence.
I first began to get interested in practicing baby sign language many years ago when I saw my cousin signing with her children. At first, I didn’t think it was possible- it seemed too advanced. Then she explained to me how it is actually easier to speak sign language than the English language. Although a little one won’t be signing complete sentence, they can still sign key words which gives the mother an idea of what that baby wants.
I am looking forward to taking an actual sign language class with my baby because it will give me a context and fun experience for using sign language with her. The class I am taking uses songs and games to make it stick in your head. I figure that I can learn the same way that a child can learn and learning along with my baby will be fun.
An approach to teaching sign language to a little one includes lots of repetition, but also teaching words that she is motivated to learn. Often moms are just motivated to teach the words that have to do with routines, in order to be efficient and get things done. But teaching fun words like animals or colors can provide more motivation for a baby learning to sign.
One of the goals of sign language for babies can be to communicate younger and earlier with your baby. It can take more dexterity to communicate with your mouth than your hands. Want to teach your baby a few key words? Use sign language. Some of the symbolism is easier to remember and they can repeat them back to you.
It can be difficult to interpret your little one’s signs in the beginning. There signs may come close to resembling the correct interpretation, or so I have heard.
Some people talk about the day their little one performed their first sign and how thrilled they were. So you could imagine the thrill I had of just projecting that thought onto my little one in the future. But, at the same time what I saw leads to a sense of wonderment as to how early does a human being really begin communicating.
From the day we are born we begin communicating in ways we don’t even understand, through body language, gestures, sounds and touch. So close your eyes and begin to imagine someone new in your life, or your little son or daughter signing back to you, smile and allow yourself to think that you may understand them. Then… let your mind wrap around the idea of the silence and the mystery that is love and caring without communication. Let that be, and take your time.