Monday, September 27, 2010

Signing Is As Easy As Creating Powerful Associations

Do you recall holdinig your 2 month old newborn in the cradle position getting ready to nurse? Your baby recognizes the position already and turns their head eagerly awaiting to be fed. It is amazing how quickly babies will pick up things that are either of great importance or incredibly fascinating. This is just one of the first associations your baby learns. That is why the sign for MILK and the sign for FAN are popular first signs of parents in the Sign, Play & Learn classes. When there is a balance in the signs being amusing and useful a baby will pick up the meaning of the sign much more readily. We played "the light game" in class today and my super star signing Collin signed light for the first time in class! His mom reported that he had often pointed at the light, but this was his first time signing it! Try this game at home and you'll at least grab your baby's attention... turn the light on and off, baby will be looking at you wondering what is going on, demonstrate the sign for LIGHT just as you've turned it on. Repeat this and feel free to count to three before turning the light on again so your baby builds another great toddler connection... "that when mommy or daddy count, something is bound to happen at that magic number". If you get very excited about the light coming back on while you are signing LIGHT, your baby is going to mirror not only your excitement but eventually the sign you are associating with this experience. Many babies will reach out to the light switch by 9 months old because they've observed that something really neat happens when someone flips the switch and they want to try it. Go ahead and let them! This will engage your baby even more, creating a greater tactile experience and propel them to learn the sign you are demonstrating again and again. Learning the sign for LIGHT was a great signing catalyst for Kyle when he was about 9 or 10 months old... every day for a week after he learned the sign for LIGHT he was learning a new sign. Very much looking forward to next Monday's class at Java Mama to find out how Collin springboards from this new sign and powerful association. Looking for more fun ideas on how to engage your baby while you show them more signing vocabulary? Check out the class schedule at Stay in the loop with conversations about signing via the Facebook page too!

Joann Woolley is owner and instructor of Sign4Baby in San Diego teaching parents how to communicate with their preverbal 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 toolbelt with parenting tips and tricks coupled with signing as a great boundary teaching (disciple) tool for toddlers. View the schedule of classes at

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