More & more sign language for babies is becoming a chore element of most early child development curriculums. The experts agree; the emotional & cognitive benefits resulting from having a tool for early communication will make a life-changing difference in the lives of babies and parents.
Urban epicenters and densely populated suburban areas often have within hand’s reach wonderful resources for interactive learning, library gatherings, playgroups and day camps abound. This is however, not the case for the majority of us. There is no denial that learning will only happen in a social context. We learn from observing and interacting. For most babies this means mama, daddy and siblings. There are many studies that highlight the importance of peer-to-peer learning during early childhood. What is a mama to do when the community infrastructure does not lend itself to early childhood socialization? The answer is simple. Be the change!
Starting a playgroup is not rocket science. Starting a themed playgroup is even easier. Signing for babies is a great activity to use as a focus for your gatherings. If you are ready to get going follow these simple steps:
Be willing to open the doors of your house to welcome other mommies and their little ones. Make it fun by providing simple and delicious food and beverage. While the little ones learn having other adults around offers the added benefit of mutual encouragement and well deserved adult interaction. One really fun idea is to have a snack tray with baby-friendly fruits along with printed cards showing the sign corresponding to the fruit.
Post a fun invitation on church bulletin boards, community boards and web forums.
Share the Load
If you are stage shy have every mom contribute by memorizing and leading the learning of one sign. Task her with providing 2 and 3-D collateral. For example if the word is “apple” The mom in charge can print the baby sign language flash card corresponding to apple as well as bring a real fruit.
Chart and Celebrate Progress
Create a chart either on paper or online tracking the achievements of each child celebrate progress by having small parties when all the kiddos reach a certain common goal.
Take Field Trips
The petting zoo, grocery store and nature trails are great places for experiential learning. Delight in showing little ones words such as bear that would otherwise be available exclusively as a concept and not the real deal.
Just getting together and enjoying the company of others is already a win. If in the process learning happens that is a plus worthy of celebration and delight.
Consider Attention Span
Don’t forget that babies get bored. Make sure the activities are short and fun and parents already know the signs prior to meeting.
If you are interested in posting an invitation to a newly formed baby sign language playgroup please feel free to post it on our Facebook page