I remember while first teaching my son sign language, I purchased a signing reference card where I could record which of the 52 signs listed that my son knew. The purpose was geared towards the benefit of those watching my child. By looking at the reference card, they would know which signs he knew and therefore would be able to communicate with him more clearly.
Since my family was very supportive in signing and I rarely left my son’s side, I never needed to use this reference card with those around me. Now years later, I was watching my eighteen month old nephew one afternoon, and I remembered the significance of recognizing the signs that he knew.
For example, he signed “all done” when he wanted out of the high chair which avoided an incident where he would get upset or make himself known by standing on top of the high chair^_^. I also realized signing was not just for communicating to me what he needed, but it formed a bond between us where he would feel comfortable. Soon after I took him out of the high chair, he made his way outside and as I heard a plane overhead, sure enough he began putting his arm in the air (for the sign “airplane”) and saying some thing that resembled the sound of airplane.
I said, “yah, that’s an airplane, good signing, Jaxton.” After watching him that afternoon, I realized that he has become more responsive to me when I see him. I take for granted that signing not only allows the child to communicate but it allows the adult to communicate with the child. I was able to tell Jaxton that I understood him.
What are some ways we can let other members in our family or those that watch over our children learn about signing?
- Before leaving your child, write down a list of signs that you think your child may use while you’re gone. Leave the list behind after showing the caregiver the signs.
- Leave a pile of flash cards of which signs your child uses the most that the caregiver could look over.
- Email the caregiver the words your child knows and some links for online dictionaries (if possible, the direct link to the signed word).
Although there are many different reactions to the words “my child signs,” you may be surprised how well a family member or sitter may receive the information. Be the one to open the door to the world of American Sign Language as well as creating a special bond between your child and those around him or her through the gift of communication.