What is the benefit of teaching baby sign language?

What is the benefit of teaching baby sign language

More and more young parents are beginning to communicate with their babies using sign language. But what is the point of this practice? And how can we learn about this mode of communication? Explanations by Noemi Benhamou, psychologist and trainer in signs associated with speech.

At what age can a baby learn to sign?

Having no ability to communicate at birth. the toddler is completely dependent on those around him to ensure his survival. His relatives then decode his crying, chirping or facial expressions to translate the needs he expresses in this way, or, as explained by Noemi Benhamou, psychologist and trainer in signs associated with speech “long before pronouncing his first words, the baby naturally produces his first signs”. Indeed, as the infant grows, it

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point a finger, say goodbye with your hand, applaud or send kisses, not to mention the famous little puppets of “so do do do”. “His hands are his first tool of expression and communication”, she adds. By signing, he will then be able communicate more even before being able to speak. Note that sign language is usually used by people who are hard of hearing or deaf. In France, French sign language is used by more than approximately 100,000 people. This practice has many advantages and can also be very useful for young children.

Research on the subject shows thata 6 month old baby regularly exposed to the signs restores them as soon as 9 months old about. But you can totally show the signs associated with speech from the first monthsthe challenge will be above all to keep your motivation to present them until your child appropriates them! “That’s why the initiation workshops most often begin around the child’s 6 months so that the deadline for restitution does not discourage the parents”, emphasizes Noemi Benhamou.

Why teach baby sign language?

The benefits of implementing the signs associated with speech are numerous. “They promote above all the bond of attachment between child and parent assures Noemi Benhamou. The reason : we adjust as closely as possible to the needs of the

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baby and they are answered in a coherent, stable and rapid manner. Results : less crying, anger and possible frustration. His needs being understood and respected, your child then experiences affective and emotional security. “His self-esteem and self-confidence are thus strengthened and the relationship between parent and child is enriched” she adds. In addition, your child places himself in a communicative posture from an early age necessary for his future verbal learning. Finally, from a development perspective, “the signs associated with speech develop fine and gross motor skills, the visual, the memory and theemotional intelligence and social” concludes Noemi Benhamou.

Until what age can we sign with baby?

There is no time limit in learning the signs associated with speech”reassures the specialist. “As long as the child is preverbal, this tool remains relevant to present”. Moreover, the older the child, the easier it will be to reproduce the signs because his fine motor skills will be more developed. Once the child acquires speech, the signs are abandoned spontaneously to explore the verbal sphere.

“A sign always accompanies the word” explains the psychologist. If these signs come from the French Sign Language (LSF), rest assured, this is not about teaching your child the entire language. You only sign the keyword of the sentence, as if to highlight it. For example, in the sentence:“Later, you can eat a compote before going to bed” you only sign “compote” and “dodo”. By dint of seeing and hearing this sign associated with speech, your baby will integrate it and sign it when he feels the need to express it. and will have motor skills. Then, later, he will pronounce the word when his phonatory apparatus is mature enough. “As for the first words, baby’s first signs are approximate” warns the specialist. Attention is required to be able to spot and interpret them correctly. To sign on a regular basis, she advisesuse signs in specific and recurring contexts : when your baby is eating his mash, getting ready to drink his evening bibi or when changing his diaper. After two months, your baby will be able to acquire about twenty signs.

What are the basic words of sign language?

A very playful tool, the sign can make your child want to sign a wider range of information. But in general, thirty signs are enough enough for your child to express their physiological and emotional needs in the first months.

The main signs divided into 4 main themes are as follows:

  • Food vocabulary: milk, mashed potatoes, cake, compote, good, hot, cold
  • The cleanliness : changing the diaper, peeing, pooping, bathing
  • The emotions : fear, sadness, anger, love, hurt
  • The child’s environment: dad, mom, the nanny, grandpa, grandma, the crèche, the cuddly toy, the cat or the dog.

The tools to learn sign language with baby

To introduce you to the signs and better transcribe them to your offspring, several tools can be useful to you. You can attend workshops on signs associated with speech given by professionals or associations or rely on online books and videos to incorporate the signs and introduce them to your child.

Books on sign language associated with speech suitable for babies:

  • The great guide to signs with baby, by Marie Cao: complete book with more than 200 videos to illustrate (Ed. Marabout)
  • Signing with your baby: gestural and benevolent communication, by Sophie d’Ocle (Ed. FIRST)
  • I sign with my baby : my Montessori box, by Nathanaëlle Bouhier-Charles (Ed. Nathan)

On the Internet and more particularly on Youtube, there are also online courses in sign language for babies.

Is it difficult to learn sign language?

Learning sign language in itself is not that difficult. Each person can learn, if they are willing and invested. Depending on the time you devote to it, it can take several months or even several years to really assimilate all the basics and workings of sign language. A baby can begin to sign his first words correctly between 9 and 13 months.

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