The Five Don’ts of Baby Sign Language

In everything there is the right way and the wrong way, sign language for babies is not an exception.  I am always surprised when I receive emails from parents, preschool teachers and speech pathologists facing common frustrations associated to how and when a child begins signing. If you are about to embark in the journey of teaching signs along with working on their speech I want to invite you to take note of a few common mistakes regarding the teaching approach of baby sign language.

Inconsistency is a Deal Breaker

We learn to communicate through imitation and association. When we pick and choose when we will use a sign we delay how the child begins to associate the sign with a concept. Signing only during play or while engaging in teaching sessions fails to aid in conveying how a sign is useful in real life interactions. Think about baby signs the way you think about words use the sign each time you use the word.

Don’t Teach Too Many Signs

You are not trying to break a Guinness Record! Too many signs lead to confusion. Focus on words and signs that are relevant to the immediate needs of your child. Pick practical concepts like food or basic needs like more or hurt. Also have some fun including your child’s favorite objects.

Don’t Expect to Get Equal Results

We all have a friend with a genius child but don’t let that discourage you. Every child walks their own journey of communication but all eventually get to a point where they are able to communicate. Observe their learning style and make adaptations accordingly.

Say No to Taking Yourself Too Seriously

Baby sign language is a fantastic tool to equip your pre-verbal child in ways that make life easier. With that said, your central role as a parent or educator is to improve the quality of life of little ones. Relax and fill each learning experience with joy. Believe me. You will get there!

Don’t Shy Away From Using Music & Props

One of the most fun and effective tools for teaching signs happens when we find ways to engage multiple senses. Sensorial learning expedites how our brain processes information. Don’t hesitate to use small toys, flashcards and songs when trying to reinforce a concept.

 

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Potty Training Baby Sign Language Style – 10 Tips You Don’t Want to Miss!

If you are raising babies, the struggle of potty training hits close to home. I can’t count the number of friends I have seen in tears as they face the day-to-day messes of teaching their toddler the art of the potty. If this is your season in life please, please don’t get discouraged. You will get there. I promise. But as you cross the valley, I wanted to share with you what has worked for us. Grab a lemonade and take note:

 

Your Baby Will Use The Potty When He is Ready

There is a season for everything. Potty training is about waiting and reading queues that may indicate readiness. Forcing your baby to use the potty is unnecessary and traumatic. Humans learn through imitation and familiarity. Expose them to the concept, teach them to be familiar with the objects, words and signs associated with evacuation and watch them thrive. .

Give Them The Words Needed to Play the Game

A baby can only use the potty if he can express the need to go potty. We made the signs for pee and potty a priority even when we were not ready to start potty training. A good way to start is to teach the sign for diaper to encourage your little one to ask for diaper changes and enjoy the comforts that come with cleanliness. As your baby grows and observes the world around them begin introducing the sign for potty, the sign for washing hands, the sign for clean and the sign for wet.

Have Fun!

Turn the whole thing into a positive experience. Play games, use gadgets and give rewards. There is no shame in making the best of a very difficult season in life. We always had a candy dispenser by the entrance of the bathroom. I also love the Cheerios aiming game!

Make Sure Everyone is in The Same Page

When mom, dad and all caregivers are reinforcing the same habits everything becomes easier. At our daycare they use the timing method allowing toddlers to have potty-time every 20 minutes. We duplicated the same method at home by singing and signing the potty song and marching to the potty to do our business.

Imitation Works

Gender imitation is perhaps the best and most reliable method of potty training. Ask an older brother or daddy to be the pee coach and create awesome rituals around mundane tasks such as washing hands together.

Rewards People. It is All About The Rewards

Before you tell me that you are not a materialistic parent and you refuse to use bribes consider the magic of praise and affection. A celebratory song or a hug has as much value as a bunch of candy.

Go Commando

Every experienced parent will tell you that the commando approach works. In the absence of a diaper little ones are far more likely to seek out the potty to avoid soiling their bodies.

Screen Time

Yes please! We have not used this method in our home but many parents swear by it. Placing a potty in front of the TV  and using regularly seems to do the trick for some.

Take Time Off for Potty Training

How about a potty staycation? If you are a busy parent and you continue to have issues of reinforcement consider dedicating a whole week to potty training. Your full attention and focus may just work wonders.

Hire a Local Potty Coach

I did not even know these people existed but they do. There are early childhood intervention professionals whose whole career is around potty training. For a fee they will come to your home and put together a plan that best matches the learning style of your little one. Yay for the experts!

 

If your baby is already signing all the potty-related signs you are well on your way to full potty training. Stop by and tell us your stories of success. If you are not signing yet why not get started using the awesome resources available in our baby sign language shop.

 

 

 

 

Go Beyond Signing – Five Awesome Ways to Use Your Baby Sign Language Flash Card Set From Birth to Kindergarten

Before you give away your flash card set to your best friend who is now expecting consider the way our baby sign language flash cards and kits are most commonly used by language therapists. Take note and pull your set out to give your little one a huge learning advantage.

Learning a New Language

One of the best uses for the baby sign language flash card set is as a transitional language tool. If you live in a multilingual home take time to print and glue the text for each word in your native language. By including an image of a word in an alternate language and using it in conjunction with the card you are giving your baby or toddler early exposure to additional languages. Longitudinal studies conducted by Harvard University confirm that learning additional languages will increase critical thinking skills, creativity and flexibility of the mind in young children. Even if a foreign language is not spoken at home, your flash card set gives you an ideal opportunity to learn basic vocabulary in a foreign language at the same time your baby learns.

Groupings & Themes

Develop critical thinking and encourage their ability to associate objects or ideas by theme by grouping card categories.  A fun and useful activity for children learning groupings and themes is to include something that is different. You could make a grouping of animal cards and add a card representing a mode of transportation. Ask your little one to find the card that is different. If your baby is well versed in signing you can sign a set of words and ask them to identify the sign that is not relevant to the grouping.

Reading Skills

Take time to sound out each word and point to the letter you are sounding out. Explore using the side of card that features the sign only as a reinforced sight words card. Your child will not have the image of the object in question as a reference; instead he or she will have to rely on the visual of the sign and observation of the written word.

Learning Contrasting Concepts

Pull out the flash cards for ideas such as small and big, hot and cold dark and light. Mix the cards all together and ask your little one to locate and sign the pairs.

Gastronomical Education

If you have a picky eater using flash cards provides you with a transitional tool to challenge your little one to try new flavors. Place a bento box with a variety of fruits new to your baby and proceed to show her the card and sign. Let her taste the fruit or food item and have her decide if she likes it or not by either signing positive signs or using the sign for more.

 

If you don’t have our flash card set yet you can get one as part of one of our kits or as standalone product. Visit our baby sign language store and get yours today

 

 

Learning Delays? Small Steps Can Make Big Impact

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Let’s talk about feeling discouraged. I know, that is not exactly the reason why you visit www.babysignlanguage.com but stay with me for this one; you won’t regret it. Parenting a new baby can be a rewarding and exciting adventure but we all have moments of discouragement. For parents dealing with a child who has been diagnosed with learning and developmental delays discouragement can easily take over everything. If you are in that boat I want to invite you to do the next thing. I want you to say goodbye to feeling like you are frozen and find strength to embrace the pleasure of small victories.

Embrace New Beginnings

When you are dealing with the unknown it is best if your goals are short term. Wake up every morning and make it your goal to explore new ways to teach your little one. Look for resources and alternatives to overcome their learning barriers and spend time discovering what works best for you. Every morning commit to not thinking about the day before and fully focusing on new beginnings. Take note of your successes however small.

Say Goodbye to Typical

A friend of mine whose career has been dedicated to developmental delays in early childhood always emphasizes workarounds. If your child is not an aural  learner explore visual or tactile experiences. Carefully watch his responses to setting and make accommodations. What works for most will not necessarily work for you.

Social v. Solitary

Is your child more likely to imitate a peer? Does he need your full attention? Is she easily distracted by crowds? Take time to understand how the social setting affects how your child learns and make revisions accordingly.

Begin, Begin, Begin!

Don’t wait. The earlier you intervene the better chances you have of catching up. I love how my friend Katia tells the story of her daughter Sasha. Sasha displayed learning delays from birth. In the absence of a diagnosis Katia spent time encouraging learning and  teaching Sasha baby sign language. To her surprise when Sasha was finally diagnosed it was discovered that she had a communication disorder. Thanks to baby sign language Sasha already had the tools to communicate buying her family, teachers and therapists valuable time to focus on learning other life skills while working on overcoming her speech delay.

If you feel discouraged today we want to invite you to do something. Whatever you do, however little it is chances are it will make a difference in your child’s life.

 

 

Baby Sign Language For The Playground

As the weather becomes milder opportunities to do outdoor activities will certainly increase. For those of you entering the toddler stage it will be your very first opportunity to improve motor skills and enhance social skills by interacting at your local playground.

 

Now that your baby has mastered need-based signs such as milk, more, mom & dad we can begin to focus on expanding their baby sign language vocabulary as they become familiar with new objects and new settings.

In addition to new words it is important that we work on developing values and teaching manners. A social context such as the playground provides an excellent backdrop to help our toddlers become familiar with concepts such as sharing, taking turns, asking politely and apologizing.

Before you head out to the playground we encourage you to work on learning the following playground-friendly baby signs:

Swing

Slide

Playground

Outside

Run

Play

Shoes

Share

Friends

Game

Hurt

We know these signs will be super useful and extra fun. Before you head to the playground make sure you have applied sunscreen and bring along some water and snacks.

We can’t wait to see the videos of your little ones using baby sign language in the playground

Beyond Shyness – This is How Baby Sign Language Can Help You Overcome Toddler Social Anxiety

It is surprising how early in life we begin to show personality traits. Some of us are exuberant, others gentle and a few of us are shy. Unfortunately sometimes what we perceive as shyness is simply the very first symptoms of social anxiety. Among other behaviors toddlers with social anxiety exhibit some of the following:

  • Will not eat outside the home
  • Will not potty outside the home
  • Is verbal at home but has a hard time engaging with new people
  • Does not play with other toddlers but plays with siblings
  • Will not communicate needs or wants when placed in crowded settings or outside the home.

If you are facing these challenges with your toddler you may want to consider baby sign language as a means of assistive communication even when your baby is already verbal. You see, for those with anxiety it is always easier to mimic a movement than to use their voices. Quiet interactions can help your child overcome social barriers and eventually serve as the tool that facilitates engagement. This is particularly useful if you are attempting to incorporate your kid into a daycare setting and you are having issues related to stress induced by social contexts.

Work on Signs That Help Your Child Overcome Difficult Situations

If your little one is refusing to eat outside the home teach him a few signs to express preferences. More, all-done, hot, cold and their favorite foods are the best choices to get started.

Teach and Use a Sign For Comfort & Affirmation

Believe me you will need it for years to come. My friend Kathy tells me that even now that her boy is in 1st grade she uses the sign for I love you to convey affection without embarrassing him in public settings.

Communicate With Your Daycare Provider

It is essential that your daycare provider is on the same page and understands sign language. Setting the stage for your child to have easy access to their caregivers when in need of something basic will without a doubt help in making him or her feel secure.

If you have not yet started teaching your baby how to sign we invite you to take a look at our free resources or consider adding our award-winning baby sign language kits to your personal parenting library. You can find our baby sign language kits here.

 

Don’t Let a Speech Delay Sentence Your Baby to a Communication Delay. Baby Sign Language Can Breach The Gap

I belong to one of those locally based Facebook mommy pages; chances are you do too. In the last few weeks I have noticed an increase in questions regarding speech delays and denials from the school district to provide early intervention. Here in my town this is the time of the year when the school district tests little ones under three that may need supplemental therapy paid for and provided by the district.

Speech Delays Are Not Necessarily Learning Delays

The number of denials are heartbreaking, but the reasoning behind some denials absolutely makes sense. You see, many of these little ones are incredibly smart and seem to be engaged in age-appropriate activities and interactions at all levels except speech. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) one out of every 12 children 3 to 17 suffers from some sort of disorder related to voice, speech, language or swallowing. There is a good probability you know someone with a lisp or you are currently trying to figure out why one of your kiddos is having a hard time sounding out certain consonants. The reality is that in most cases a language delay is not necessarily an intellectual delay. To this end, it is essential that you as a parent empower your little one with tools that provide transitional access to communication to better equip them to continue learning while they tackle their delays through therapy and training.

Empower Your Child With Communication Tools That Matter

If your child is of typical intelligence and he is unable to communicate specific needs due to a speech delay you are setting the stage for a very frustrated baby. Work around the problem through the use of baby sign language or board-based communication. Many parents are hesitant thinking that by giving their kids a way to communicate their will further delay speech. The reality is that your kiddo wants to speak as much as you want them to speak. When they are ready and the therapist has worked through the barriers that are hindering their speech your baby will talk. Meanwhile do what you have to do to ensure he or she feels like there is a connection that allows him to have their needs met.

Give Your Toddler Signs That Matter

When a baby is showing potential speech delays it is not a time for fun and games. Be intentional about the signs that you teach him to ensure you are not neglecting a basic need. Take time to teach your toddler emotional signs that will allow him to reach out for help. Scared, sad, happy or lonely should be introduced early one. Teaching this signs in tandem with signs for the basics such as food and warmth will better equip your little one to help you give him a happy and healthy life.

 

Team Up With Your Speech Therapist

Don’t try to do this alone. Take time to chat with your speech therapist and have them help you put together a plan that helps your baby communicate as early as possible while still working on verbal skills. There are many tricks of the trade, games and educational activities that can accelerate learning and get your little one where he needs to be as soon as possible.

 

Don’t delay your baby’s path to communication any further. Get started with your kit today. Our premium kit has everything you need to support a baby sign language curriculum from birth to preschool. You can browse through our kit by visiting our Baby Sign Language Store

 

Learn How Baby Sign Language Improves the Learning & Social Dynamics at Daycare

 

We frequently receive correspondence from early child development professionals looking for ways to introduce babies to baby sign language in the classroom environment. We have received numerous reports from educators around the globe highlighting how baby sign language has been helpful in their classrooms and play groups. Based on the feedback we have received we want to share with you a few of the ways in which learning signs is proving to be helpful for babies, toddlers and preschoolers attending daycare, early childhood intervention and Head Start Programs.

Baby Sign Language Provides Consistent Communication Skills Across Many Backgrounds

Whether a child comes from a different ethnic background or a household with different cultural nuances once a little one makes it to daycare the need to have common means of communication becomes essential to their emotional health and academic progress. By using baby sign language in the classroom both the educator and child can make the connection between words and concepts. For the non-native English speaker knowing the sign for nap will help him or her connect the dots between the action and the word they hear at home. Similarly babies will be able to overcome regional differences and learn synonyms such as binkie or pacifier.

Baby Sign Language Empowers Babies at an Early Stage in Life to Convey Basic Needs

Both at home and at daycare one of the most important reasons to introduce babies to baby sign language is empowerment. A baby who is able to effectively communicate primal needs such as hunger or thirst will be a happier baby with far less chances of resorting to tears or tantrums to convey their frustration. Imagine how impactful it can be if by signing you reduce tantrums in the classroom by at least half. Now you will have more time to teach, love and create memories with the little ones.

Baby Sign Language is Helpful in the Development of Motor Skills

Non-verbals are as important as words when it comes to communication skills. By reinforcing speech with signs not only do we equip toddlers to have clarity in conveying ideas, we also provide them with the means to refine their motor skills and make gestural associations between word and movement. One of the most effective ways to maximize motor skills development through baby sign language is by using key signs in combination with simple songs that highlight age-appropriate activities pointing to self-reliance.

Baby Sign Language Reduces Distractions During Learning Units

Keeping order in the classroom and having the ability to engage the group in activities conducive to learning is essential. Baby Sign Language can give toddlers the means to communicate urgent needs such as potty or thirsty without raising their voice or distracting the rest of the group. This is specially useful during reading circle or group play.

Baby Sign Language Aids in the Development of Social Skills with Peers

There is nothing more frustrating to a little one than wanting to communicate something to a peer and failing due to lack of appropriate words. Baby sign language creates a common language among your students allowing them to better engage with others in play and cooperation. Concepts such as share, mine, more and thanks can make a world of difference on how little ones engage with each other.

 

If you are a teacher, caregiver or preschool administrator consider our Baby Sign Language Teaching Guide. The guide contains advanced teaching methods suitable for the classroom. In tandem with our core signs Flash Card Set you can begin introducing babies & toddlers in your classroom to the world of signing.

Five Sign-Learning Activities To Do With Baby This Summer

 

You got the kit, you got the time and you got a baby eager to learn and discover. The first summer with a toddler can set the stage for a lifetime of learning based on exploration. Get your stroller out, put some sunscreen on and let’s do some summer baby sign language activities.

Head to a Pick-Your-Own Farm

If your little one is now walking a pick your own farm is one of the best adventures ever. Pick a fruit that is reachable by little hands such as strawberries or grapes and take time to prepare by selecting five or ten signs relevant to the outdoor experience. One of my favorite things to teach when visiting a farm is flavors, textures and colors. With berries we explored the signs for sweet and sour and we learned colors such as red and green. We also included the sign for basket and we practiced the sign for more.

Host a Garden Tea Party

This is a great morning activity when you are lucky enough to have a large tree providing shade. It is also a lovely opportunity to take beautiful pictures of your little ones. Get the teddy bear and doll out, set up a few cups, make or buy a cake and consider playing dress up and wearing a hat. Sign in context and have your little one practice the signs for things like table and chair.

Head to the Playground

If you want to have loads and loads of fun with your baby there is nothing more fun than the playground. Along with meeting other little ones the playground provides endless opportunities to refine motor skills and burn some energy. It is in this context that I have found baby sign language to be the most useful. Being able to give an instruction to my little one when he is not within arm’s reach is the best gift ever. When heading to the playground take time to practice words such as slide, swing and run.

Have a Picnic With Favorite Foods

This ranks really high in my book. Through summer indoor and outdoor picnics we have had the opportunity to learn and discover new foods and flavors. Get a hold of little bento boxes and have fun helping your baby explore their taste preferences. Their faces when they first experience a flavor is something to behold. Our flashcard kit contains at least 20 food signs that are ready to use.

Have Some Screen Time

If the day is super hot it is best to stay indoors. We are not huge fans of excessive screen time but a good 30 minutes of sing-along using the Baby Signing Time DVDs may just be the break you need to get things done in the house. Exposing your baby to rhythm and music at an early age can make a world of difference in their ability to memorize words and repeat new words.

 

Happy Summer!

Five Ways Baby Sign Language is Helping Babies Deal With Anxiety & Fear

 

“Anxiety is rooted in uncertainty; empowering a baby to communicate basic needs

is the key to a less anxious and more content little one.” 

Let’s talk baby anxiety. One of the most commonly voiced concerns from parents is knowing how to meet and understand the needs of their babies. The earlier a parent learns to recognize and address specific needs and wants the better it will be for everyone involved. During the first six months every mom and dad makes a concerted effort to identify general needs for food, warmth and security. But even when a parent invests a great deal of time and personal attention with baby it is not uncommon to face a tantrum or a frustrated child who is unable to voice their true needs.

Teaching our babies how to sign will give them the communication tools needed for the pre-verbal stage. During the pre-verbal stage babies are not anatomically or intellectually ready for speech but are able to understand concepts. Language development begins during the neonatal stage but most little ones don’t begin speaking until age one to two. Let’s take a look at five common situations where having mastered basic baby signs will make a world of difference.

Nourishment

When we developed our introductory guide to baby sign language we asked many friends and everyone agreed that hunger and thirst are the most common reasons for a frustrated baby. In fact, if there is one sign you want to teach your baby first, it is the sign for milk. For some parents this is done in the context of lactation, for others the sign is introduced as soon as the baby begins to take formula.

Environmental Comfort

We loved introducing our babies to signs related to environmental comfort. Cold and hot were part of our ten first signs. We reinforce the signs by signing cold when we are about to go outside and signing hot when our babies get sweaty and we are about to remove their layers. We also use games of contrast by putting a couple of bowls with iced water and warm water.

Emotional Needs

We firmly believe that affection and attention are as important as food. To help our babies communicate emotional needs we incorporated signs like hug and scared. We also taught our kids to sign when they wanted to be picked up.

Recreation & Exploration

Every baby is unique and they will form unique interests based on their personality. When babies become bored it is not uncommon to see expressions of frustration and anxiety through crying. To help your baby further explore his interests consider teaching signs for objects and locations that bring your baby joy and satisfaction. We were quick to introduce the signs for playground, bear (for a favorite teddy) and outside. It is beautiful to see our little ones sign to let us know their specific desire to engage with a particular toy or head to a certain setting like the park.

Favorite People

We can’t emphasize this enough. Knowing the signs that identify those that mean the most to our babies will totally change their communication dynamic. Signs like mom, dad, grandma and nanny can allow your baby to quickly access the person they need the most.

 

If you have not yet started to sign with your baby we invite you to take a look at our quick start guide. Thousands of parents around the world have benefited from sign language. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to give your baby an edge.