Before Erin was born my husband and I decided that we’d like to teach her to sign. We’d read that children who were taught to sign often speak earlier and have a wider vocabulary than children who were not. Parents also report that children who sign have fewer tantrums then their non-signing siblings. Now that she’s here and because she was born premature it seems more important that we sign with her as, children who are born premature often experience speech delays.
Our daughter is not vocal. While she does coo to herself and others on occasion, at 3 months corrected (6 months real) she doesn’t do it with any frequency. In fact, in the past week I could count on one finger the number of times I’ve heard her vocalize in anything other than a cry. What worries me is not that she will have a disability, rather, that she’ll have something to say and not be able to express it.
So, with the hope of pre-empting any language delays Erin may have I went in search of a book that would help us introduce her to the world of sign language. After careful selection of the only two baby signing books available at our local Borders (apparently sign language isn’t that popular of a subject in Australia) I bought “Signing Smart with Babies and Toddlers: A Parents Strategy and Activity Guide” by Michelle Anthony. My reason for choosing this book was that it offer a variety of activities you can do with your child to introduce signing into their (and your) every day lives.
For the moment Erin is too young and lacks the fine motor skills to sign back but I’m hopeful that, by introducing sign language early, we will give her the best opportunity to communicate with us and to speak.
Wish us luck!
If you’re interested in teaching your child sign language you may find the following resources and articles interesting.