When I had my son I decided that I wasn’t going to do sign language with him. I thought it was a weird, hardcore parent thing that was unnecessary.
It wasn’t until his therapists urged us to show him a few signs to get by, that I started to realize it was quicker for him to sign what he wanted than try to find the words.
We started off slowly with just 2 signs (more and all done) and he perfected them almost immediately. He started to use them purposefully, which made it easy for us to know what he wanted.
I then expanded his repertoire to ‘thank you’ and ‘open’, which he uses continually throughout the day.
‘Please’ and ‘help’ have been a bit harder to teach because they have more hand movements than the others, but with some practice he will probably get them or a version of them that he can do and you can understand.
A good way to encourage them to continue with the sign language is to recognize that they are trying and also do what they are asking…within reason that is.
Our son used to sign ‘all done’ 10 seconds after we put him in his highchair. What I would do was say ‘not yet’ every time he would do it so he knew that I understood what he was trying to say.
Some parents believe that starting to sign with their baby will prevent them from learning how to speak.
If you say the word and do the sign, they will learn both and do the one that is easiest at the time.
The average baby will learn 5 or 6 and they won’t be the same ones that your friends are teaching their kids. Pick out a few to start (more and all done are easy to do and learn) and then go from there.
To see a few beginner signs, please visit Babies and Sign Language and click on the words that interest you.
This site is one of the very few sites that will actually show you the signs without having to purchase a kit or package.