Saturday, November 13, 2010

Baby Sign Language And Speech Development

Guest Post by Misty Weaver, Baby Sign Language

Does baby sign language help with speech development or, as some people argue, does it get in the way? Many child-development experts agree that Learning Baby Sign Language has a positive effect on speech. Read on to find out why…

How Do Babies Learn To Talk?
From an early age, babies communicate in many different ways -- through their facial expressions, for example, or by smiling, babbling, crying, trying to move nearer to you, with arm gestures, by whining. The techniques babies use to communicate their needs are as unique and individual as they are. But there are similarities amongst all babies, and many ways in which you as parent can help your baby to build the tools of successful communication.

1. Imitation And Repetition
Babies learn by imitation. Through all forms of interaction -- play, quiet time, watching and listening, signing or talking -- your baby is learning from you and the world around them. Whether they are learning how to talk, how to sign, or just how to interact with others, repetition is one of the ways they learn important messages about how to behave.

2. Validation
The most important way to communicate with babies is to let them know you have received their message. Nod, or smile, or pick them up. Make sure your response fits whatever your baby is trying to communicate. One of the great things about baby sign language is that it gives both babies and parents another tool for communication. Many studies show that Baby Signing does not replace speech, but actually aids its development, by improving a baby’s confidence in its ability to communicate.

How Does Confidence Help Communication?
Babies who are better able to communicate their needs will develop more confidence than babies who struggle to be understood and validated. This is because every time you respond to your baby in a way which validates his efforts at communication, his confidence in his abilities grows. As your baby’s confidence grows, so do his abilities. It is a positive spiral. But the converse is also true -- if a baby does not learn that his efforts at communicating are successful, he may either withdraw, or develop more and more extreme ways of getting your attention!

Communication And Language
It’s important to remember that talking is only one part of communication -- and for most pre-school children it’s only a small part. Children communicate with us and each other through touch, facial expressions, tone and volume of voice, by telling stories and through play. They also instinctively communicate by using hand gestures -- such as signs. Talking is a natural progression for children as they learn to listen to the world around them, and talking to your children, by reading stories and explaining every day activities, is a great way to encourage speech. If you add Sign Language For Infants into the mix, you are simply giving your child another tool for expressing themselves. There is no evidence that baby sign language slows down speech development -- while the opposite may indeed be true.


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