This is one of the most critical lessons in teaching your baby to sign. Repetition is a big piece of learning for anyone, but I think we might think of the phrase "practice makes perfect." Well, with a baby, we know they pay attention when we repeat words and use a high pitched sing-song voice, otherwise known as parentese (that's the PC term so Dad's are included too!) and it used to be referred to as motherese.
That repetition comes naturally when talking to babies, nobody has to tell a mother to do this as she nurtures and bonds with her baby in arms. Just as we use repetition in speaking to our babies, it makes sense we would repeat the signs for those key words we are repeating. Afterall those are the words your baby is focusing on with all that repetition - so go ahead and sign those exact words you would repeat in motherese or parentese.
What we tend to do as parents is get bored quickly of the very games we start with our babies and toddlers. Go ahead and think back to the last time you played peek-a-boo with your babe and consider if your baby turned to another activity or if it was YOU that got bored and switched gears.
After class today I demonstrated how exactly to use the idea of repetition with Isaac and signing MILK. He had to have heard me say and seen me sign MILK 100+ times in various sing-song questiong games. Not only was he growing further and further engaged in watching me and responding with the movement of his eyes and tracking from my eyse to my hand and back again, but his expression showed he enjoyed the game immensely. In discussion with his mom she said she had been making the context of signing MILK fun and repeating it, but after observing me her understanding of what I REALLY mean by repeat, repeat, repeat was more clear. I can't wait to hear what transpires with her this week!
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 tool belt with parenting tips and tricks coupled with signing as a great boundary teaching (discipline) tool for toddlers. View the website to purchase learning aids and view the schedule of classes at Sign4Baby. Look for her webinar coming out in 2013!