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Signing With Babies And Children: Is it too early? Is it too late?

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Is it too early? Is it too late?

"When is the best age to start signing with my child," is the one most common question I am asked by every parent. A quick browse on the Net will result in various answers, no surprise, and the truth is that I do not like to give an exact time frame to any parent. Children are unique in their development, and sign language is no different than rolling over, sitting up, smiling, crawling, and walking. Your baby will sign according to his/her own time frame.
Babies are often ready to sign back when they sit by themselves and can point. Does that mean we should only start signing at that time? Definitely not. We start talking to them well before this point and the same applies to sign language. In fact, babies who are born to families with deaf parents or siblings are exposed to signing at birth. I do not believe in ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ – you are the expert on your child and your instincts will lead the way. Keep in mind, however, that babies are fast learners and may understand what you are signing well before they are able to sign back.

I began the signing process with my daughter when she was 8 months old. Today – 6 years later – signing remains part of her daily life and routine. Her vocabulary is so rich and she is constantly asking to learn more signs and words. (We just learned the signs for ‘imagination’ and ‘pretend’ as she is playing with dolls).

Recently I received an e-mail from Magda, a mom who uses sign language after participating in our class. Her message read:

“I took Etel's class when my son was 5 months. By 6 months, he started signing ’milk’, wow. My son was fascinated by the class, looking at everybody signing at the same time”.
“Put the Power of language into your child’s hands.”™

Let the Sign Shine!

Etel Leit, M.S.
Founder & Owner


Lisa Baade said...

We started with Scarlette when she was 4 months which was pretty early. By five months she surprised us by showing signs that she understood us. I remember one day in particular, I signed to her and told her it was time for 'milkies'. As we walked down the hallway, she peered around the corner to see if her milk bottle was waiting for her in the bottle warmer. I was shocked and delighted that at this early age she just got it. Now she is a little star - at 15 months she is learning a new sign almost everyday. I just wish we could do more to spread the word about how wonderful this experience is.

My Baby Details said...

"Children are unique in their development, and sign language is no different than rolling over, sitting up, smiling, crawling, and walking."

I love what you said here... it's such a comfort as we do see our children learning at different paces than each other. We can see them as individuals and enjoy their steps just as we take our own steps as caregivers in doing the best we can!