Monday, August 17, 2009

I want to understand what you're saying, really I do!

This has to be a common thought to parents around the globe as their motormouth toddler becomes confident in their speech and makes requests left and right. Not to mention they narrate all the things they see and hear and ask questions all day long... all the road map to learning language!

My well trained "mommy ear" catches about 97% (that is a crude estimate, no true calculations can be accounted for) of what my children ask for verbally. Kyle is 2 1/2, Amberly just about 4. But they both stump me probably once a day. The other day was particularly frustrating for Kyle as he wanted a snack and he wanted a specific snack. The words he was using sounded familiar but I was not recalling what it was. Trying to be especially patient because he was repeating himself with great earnest, I told him I wanted to give him the item but I was having a hard time understanding his words. I asked if he had a sign for it and he just stared back. Clearly he didn't have a sign for said item. After a few minutes I decided to just go through the list of his favorites, even the ones we didn't have in stock so at least I'd know what the heck he was asking for when I landed on the item.

This whole thing felt like 10-15 minutes just because it was so labor intensive, but maybe it was closer to 5 minutes, probably even less than that!

So, what did the poor boy want you ask? A cereal bar! I've shown him the sign for "cereal" and he can say and sign that now so I'll know what he's after. At least the search will be narrowed down and only take one minute to determine if he is asking for cereal versus a cereal bar!

Got a story like this of your own? Share it by emailing me at

Joann Woolley is owner and instructor of Sign4Baby in San Diego teaching parents how to communicate with their pre-verbal baby using American Sign Language. With her in depth knowledge of ASL as her first language she takes you beyond just the basics in signing, also filling your parenting tool belt with parenting tips and tricks coupled with signing as a great boundary teaching tool for toddlers. Want to know which signs most parents start with but gets them stuck in the mud? I'll send you that hundred dollar tip for FREE.

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