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Signing With Babies And Children: September 2010

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Engaging and Repeating... Even with Diaper Changes

How many times would one think you could hear "change diaper" during one mere diaper change. Well, apparently many many times.

I honestly can see educationally speaking how repeating a word helps children to remember it, but this can also help calm a child down as you engage with them. Signing to my children has given me the opportunity of forming a habit where I am able to not only sign what we are doing but to repeat the words being signed. This is particularly useful when signing expectations or daily routines.

As seen on the video below, my son finds a connection with what is going on. And although he is not seen upset here, I recall just three months ago when he was two months old, I laid him down on the bed to change his diaper. He began to cry. I began to sign.

Within seconds his eyes were fixated on what my hands were doing as I found myself repeating the words change diaper in a very enthusiastic manner. I was engaging with him.

If I would not have been signing, I don't believe I would have chosen to speak in a consistent manner where my voice, although possibly annoying to the outside world^_^, was able to bring calmness. And my hands became a distraction from what was seemingly upsetting at the time.
As stated in my previous post, I feel encouraged to sign by choosing three signs for a particular routine and then having the choice to add to those signs.

The three words I sign when changing a diaper are change, diaper, and wet or dirty.

I then add all done and all clean at the end.

Enjoy the journey of engaging with your children through the power of signing... even if it is in those moments of diaper changes. You never know what may be remembered as precious memories when looking back.^_^

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Transparency and Babies' Understanding of How Language Works

In sign language, nearly all the signs for body parts are made by pointing to the specific body part. For example, 'nose', 'eyes', 'mouth', 'arm', 'hair', 'ear', are all signed by pointing to the specific body part. These body parts represent the meaning of transparent. You will often see a baby point to his various body parts when you ask him/her, ‘Where is your nose? Where is your mouth?” This is an example of the beauty of a language that has signs that are transparent and/or iconic. When the sign actually looks like the meaning of the word, or in this case is the body part, it is easier for a baby to process and comprehend the way language works. So when a baby points to objects or body parts, s/he is actually saying ‘this is my nose’. This is visual transparency.

When a baby learns the sounds that animals make, this is auditory transparency. He actually hears the cat say 'meow' or the dog say 'woof woof', so s/he often assigns those corresponding sounds to those respective animals. Sign language takes these animals and assigns a visual sign that is closely linked to the meaning of the animal, again reinforcing the benefits of learning sign language which may initially consist of many visually transparent or iconic signs.