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About Baby Sign Language

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About baby sign language - it's benefits, use and history.

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Learn More About Baby Sign Language, it's uses, benefits, history and more.

What is baby sign language?

Baby sign language is a way of introducing communication to infants before they can talk, enabling them to express their feelings, wishes and needs.

Use and Benefits of Baby Sign Language?

By using simple signs for everyday vocabulary (eg: 'more', 'food', 'milk' etc), hearing babies are also able to enjoy earlier communication with parents, reducing childhood frustration and behavioural problems. It also reduces the frustration for parents by helping them to understand what baby wants.
Baby signing bridges a very wide gap, giving your child the ability to communicate their wishes and needs with visual clues (signs) before they can physically form spoken words, which also gives them a structure on which to build their development of vocabulary.

Baby sign language also helps babies make sense of the words that they hear, as words are introduced along with the signs. This means that as the signing vocabulary develops so too does the verbal vocabulary.
Signs are gradually dropped by the child once the even easier form of verbal communication (speech) is mastered - providing them (and their parents) with the perfect communication bridge.
There are numerous benefits seen in signing infants. Recent research suggests that properly introduced signing does NOT hamper speech development - and in a lot of cases will even encourage early speech.
Another recent find maintains that many babies who sign not only have a higher vocabulary and greater communication skills, but will also develop a greater IQ than that of their peers.
Many signing children will start school with the advantage of a greater ability to communicate with their friends and understand their teachers better.
One of life's vital skills is communication, so cultivating the ability to communicate effectively from an early age should lead to greater interaction and people skills in adult life. Signing with your child provides the perfect opportunity to get them used to interacting with others and builds a stronger bond between parents and infants, plus it's great fun!

When Can I Start?

You can start signing with your infant from birth, and should expect them to begin to sign back at around 5-6 months, but it is possible to start signing at a later age and still see amazing results.
At 6-9 months your child's motor skills develop, this is when they start to have good control of their hands, combined with the mental ability to communicate and understand the concept of vocabulary.

When, Where and How did baby sign language begin?

In America.

Interest in baby sign language began in the late 1980ís by two separate and significant research projects in America.
These were both carried out by; Joseph Garcia (a student at the University of Alaska) and the team of Linda Acredolo PhD and Susan Goodwyn PhD both from the University of Davis.
Both research ventures were inspired by their own children.

Whilst Joseph Garcia attended the Universaty of Alaska he became fascinated by his friends deaf babies and how quickly they learned to communicating with the use of sign language and were fast becoming sign language experts by the time they were 9 months old! In turn his observations also showed how little hearing babies could communicate by the time they were 9 months old. This is were the topic of his thesis was born.

Joseph Garcia's own infant son's became his 'test subjects' guiding him through his thesis and helped him develop and launch his 'Sign with your baby' and 'sign 2 me' multimedia programs based on ASL.

During the same time Linda Acredolo had noticed her daughter Katie watching fish swimming in a tank at their Dr' Surgery. Katie walked up to the tank to take a closer look and started to blow. Linda was puzzled by her daughters behaviour. When home Linda put Katie down for a nap in her cot, over the cot was a fish mobile, Linda leaned in to activate the mobile with a gentle blow, that's when Linda realised and made the connection between Katie blowing the fish at the Dr's and how Katie was trying to communicate fish to her mother.

Linda Acredolo and her research partner Susan Goodwyn began to study the impact of signing with babies compared to those babies who did not sign. The research was funded by a grant awarded by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, Linda and Susan were then able to identify progress at various ages. Results proved signers out-performed non-signers in many areas of cognition and language development. Both Acredolo and Goodwyn created their own sign language program 'BabyTalk' based on the concept to allow babies to create their own signs to communicate, bridging the gap between cognition and communication.

From these two very important and significant research studies and sign language programs many off-shoot baby sign language programs were born. Most are based on ASL but a wider understanding, over the past 5+ years, has meant that in the UK there are a lot more baby sign language programs being born based on BSL. All of the programs that have been created since the original studies have all been created to facilitate verbal development as an end result.

In The UK.

Around the early 1990's it was discovered by child development experts - that infants brought up in a signing environment (usually because deafness in the family) were communicating with their parents by signing back long before they were able to talk. This in turn meant that infants brought up in signing environments relied far less on cries or screams to convey their message and communicated their needs with sign language, resulting in far less frustration and much happier babies.

Benefits of signing with infants.

The Benefits for parents
Increased IQ.
Provides a base for a second language.
Bridges the gap between other languages spoken in family.
Stimulates a babies senses: sight, touch and movement.
Empowets multiple forms of effective communication.
Enhanced early language skills.
More positive interactions.
Effective and fun communication.
Less frustration for you and your baby.
Builds on babies natural tendancy to gesture.
Provides a window into your baby's thoughts.
Leads to more intersest in books.
Strenghthens babies self-esteem.

The Benefits for childcare providers.
Increased IQ.
Provides a base for a second language.
Reduces aggresive behaviour like biting.
Provides an atmosphere for inclusion of children with special needs.
More positive interraction.
Effective and fun communication.
Leads to more interest in books.
Enhances early language skills.
Aids in Kinesthetic learning.
Aids in classroom management.
Reduces noise levels in the classrooms.

The Benefits for teachers.
Increased IQ.
Aids in Kinesthetic learning.
Aids in classroom management.
Provides a base for a second language.
Provides an atmosphere for inclusion of children with special needs.
Effective and fun communication.
Leads to more interest in books.
Adds a new dimension to classroom learning.
Bridges the gap between other languages spoken in the classroom and at home.
Reduces noise levels in the classroom.
Assists in the development of early language skills.

The Benefits for special needs.
Leads to more interest in books.
Provides a means of self expression leading to heightened self-esteem.
Can be a primaru communication tool for various abilities.
Aids in medical situations whrere verbal communication is not possible.
Assists on the development of early language skills.
Effective and fun communication.

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