When I was teaching Spanish in a preschool, one of the things that I saw the younger children doing a lot was sign language. It wasn’t that they were deaf, but they were so little that they couldn’t verbally communicate yet, so their teachers worked with them on sign language for all kinds of words.
The frustration of not being understood and not knowing how to express what you want or need leads to many, many temper tantrums and more than a little whining in young children. It is frustrating for them and super annoying for us. Teaching sign language takes that barrier down because these kids suddenly find a way to say what they mean.
There are a lot of DVDs out there to help parents teach their children sign language. One that I have seen and really think is awesome is Baby Signing Time.
Will has received them recently, and I can already see a difference. He knew a few words in sign language (please, more, thank you, and drink), but now he knows so many more. The DVDs are like an older child’s version of Baby Einstein in format, in that they have a lot for the kids to look at and are all set to music.
The lady who is featured as the teacher, Rachel Coleman, founded the company that makes these DVDs with her sister. They began them because Rachel’s first daughter was born profoundly deaf, and her second daughter was born with spina bifida and cerebral palsey. Both girls needed help in communication.
Not only did the DVDs help the girls learn to sign, but it opened up signing to so many other children who just hadn’t learned to speak yet, making it easier for them to communicate what they wanted or needed to adults and also to communicate with other children who couldn’t speak.
Rachel used to be in a folk band, so she used her guitar, songwriting and singing talents to write the songs that (while maybe a bit silly to adults- they certainly make me laugh) make it so easy for kids to pay attention to the different segments of each DVD.
The DVDs not only have the music and Rachel showing each sign, but they have children doing the signs, pictures and videos of the things you are signing about (examples: videos of people with their dogs when learning to sign “dog”), and children saying the words. You are supposed to sign along while they show the signs. So these DVDs are helpful to all types of learners- visual, kinesthetic, and auditory.
I have seen in both a school setting and a home setting how helpful it can be when young children learn to sign. They can communicate their needs without getting angry, and that makes everyone’s day better. I can’t recommend it enough.
If you are interested in teaching your child to sign or giving a great gift to someone who has children or is expecting (or if you work with young children or children with disabilities), I suggest Baby Signing Time as a brand to check out. They have all different packages for different price points, so you can pick whatever fits your budget, or you can buy the products individually.
If you have used signing with babies or children before, I would love to hear how it went for you!