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Signing With Babies And Children: What is the earliest age that I can start Sign Language classes?

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Monday, March 2, 2009

What is the earliest age that I can start Sign Language classes?

I get asked this question regularly by curious parents who are eager to start signing with their baby or child. I truly love this question, but you might be surprised to learn that there is not one correct answer.

What do the experts say?
The average recommend age is 6-9 months. Why? By this age, babies are usually developed enough to sit by themselves and point to things. When you think about it, pointing to an object is actually the baby’s first sign. What she’s trying to say is, “Mommy, look at this!” or “Daddy, I want this!”

My belief is that babies can and should be exposed to signing before they actually produce their first sign. Just like in talking, we start to talk to our children from day one (and sometimes even while still in utero!), obviously way before they can develop speech of their own.

Parents in my programs:
Families join my classes at every age and stage. From pregnancy to 6 months or even at 16 months of age or older. Each family benefits from the process in a different way and at different developmental stages of their child. Many parents choose to take the class twice or three times and gain new experiences as their baby changes.

My conclusion:
The answer rests with the parents. Are you willing to sign every day with your child? Are you committed to communicate with your child beyond verbal words? These are all questions to answer for yourself before deciding when to start this wonderful journey of communication and connection.Are you a parent who is anxious to see your child signing right away? Then you may want to wait until your child is a bit older. Or do you have the patience to sign to your baby and wait until she is ready and physically able to produce signs? If so, then you can get started right away.
I do not believe in ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ – you are the expert on your child and your instincts will lead the way.

Click here to read my article about the right age.

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