Do You Teach Your Child to Sign?

Everyone I know who’s taught signing to their children raves about it. Even babies pick up the signs more quickly than you’d expect, they say; it dramatically reduces your child’s frustration when she can’t yet verbalize what she wants; it eventually expands vocabulary. I believed it all, but I’ll be totally honest—I thought it would be too time-consuming. Last winter, a good friend gave me a gift of these DVDs, telling me that even her school-age kids got into them. I was grateful, and yet I let them sit unopened for a looong time. In the meantime, I’d encountered even more reasons to give signing a try. One was a passionate discussion with one of Parents‘ Advisors, Dr. Jenn Berman, who recently visited our offices. She mentioned that she taught her twin toddlers signing at an early age, and couldn’t say enough about how much easier it’s made their lives. But the kicker for me was last month, during a Little Gym class with my 21-month-old, Lila. The week after the instructor taught the kids the sign for “bubbles”—and with no reinforcement from me for the next seven days—Lila signed it correctly when the teacher said it was time for bubbles. So I went straight home and popped in “Look Who’s Signing.” Lila sat still and genuinely enjoyed watching the first 30-minute DVD (there are two, dividing the alphabet in half), which was impressive enough, but she’s since been clearly trying to sign a few words. (Meanwhile, after one viewing, my 4-year-old could sign close to 10 words, and she’s up to 20+ signs now.) Obviously, for my girls to get the most out of learning to sign, I’ll need to do more than park them in front of the TV, but I’ve got the motivation now. I’d love to know what you’ve done with your children.

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  1. by Starving Student Survivor

    On June 7, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I’ve signed with my two boys, almost 4 and almost 2, since my older son was a baby. I haven’t found it time consuming at all, and videos are just a small part of what we do. My husband bought a couple of baby signing reference books when my first baby was four months old. They sit on the shelf and whenever I’m talking to my kids about something and think, “I wonder what the sign for that is,” I look it up in a book or online. So I’m learning along with my kids, one sign at a time.

  2. by Kimberly W

    On June 7, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I taught my kids sings from birth. My oldest was a late talker so I was really thankful that I had taught him signs. I had a couple of books and used it when talking to them. Now that they are older they use signs when they want to tell me something and their mouths are full:-)

  3. by Jen

    On June 8, 2010 at 7:59 am

    My daughters are 6 and 4 and, while I did not teach them to sign earlier (wish I had!), they both love watching the Look Who’s Signing DVD’s – Jennifer Magee and her husband did a fabulous job of creating a simple and very entertaining way to engage kids. I have been catching the girls showing and teaching their friends as well, saying “do you know how to sign thank you? I do, look you just do this…” Fun to watch and a testament to what these great DVD’s have to offer!

  4. by denise whitney

    On June 8, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Teaching kids to sign is so helpful. It takes away so much frustration of trying to figure out what they want before they are able to verbalize it. I did it with my 3 boys and loved it.

  5. by Jen

    On June 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    We started doing a few signs and attending Baby Signs classes when Addi was 6 months old. She and I just wanted to go to class and sign, say, and play. There is a lot of reading, singing, and playing within the hour. It was so much fun that I thought to myself, if she doesn’t sign at least she is playing with the other babies. However, as I began watching the other older babies (Addi was the youngest) I noticed how quickly so many of them were picking up the signs. At first she just watched and I wasn’t sure she would ever sign! Finally, Addi signed “milk” and there have been so many times that she has been able to communicate with us. According to her teacher she is an early signer but we’ve been signing and talking to her from early on. She is 11 months and is signing about 5 or 6 things. It is so fun and exciting. We bought a couple of the books and dvds from Baby Signs and she LOVES them! She is also starting to try to communicate more verbally. Signing rocks!

  6. by Ros

    On June 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    As a mom of a special needs, non-verbal child, this video would’ve been a great tool to have for my daughter years ago. At the time, my daughter’s therapist used only books & demoed signing during their sessions. Having the “Look Who’s Signing” video would’ve facilitated and expedited the learning process making it accessible for home use while being fun & engaging.

  7. by AT

    On June 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    We used Signing Times DVDs to each my daughter to sign at about 9 months. It really helped with communication and reduced frustration. “more”, “milk”, “cracker” and “please were very common around here. She is 5 now and still likes to watch the DVDs and can pick up signs quickly, even though we don’t actively use sign language now.

  8. by alia

    On June 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    We used sign language with our daughter. The classes did not work for us- because she got upset the first time the teacher showed the milk sign, and she did not get any milk.

  9. by Lynn

    On June 8, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    My daughter taught her girls to sign when they were babies. At the time it was a new concept, but it really did make a difference in terms of lowering their frustration level and HERS! Wish they’d had these then.

  10. by Kara

    On June 9, 2010 at 10:58 am

    You’re all confirming everything I’ve ever heard about signing. Thanks for the input. I just wish I’d started sooner!

  11. by Jennifer

    On June 11, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I am so happy to see so many parents are using sign language with their children! Not only are you communicating with your child early on but they are also building vocabulary and learning a second language! My daughters love to show their friends that they can sign. My two year old, Addison, when she really wants something, first she says it then signs it over and over until she gets what she is asking for, too cute. My girls are learning both at home and in pre-school and having fun while learning:) Thanks for your comments.

  12. by

    On June 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Thanks for the information! We never used sign language with our kids. However, it seems a great communication tool, especially in early ages when the baby has no way to express himself except of crying :( and a great help for disabled kids!

  13. by Audrey Mejia

    On August 2, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Signing is the best thing for babies and toddlers who can’t talk yet. It totally takes away from the frustration from both parent and child, as well as for me (since I have twins), the whining times 2!!!
    Not to mention that while I was in grad school, there is research that shows signing is so fundamental to your child and the effects are long term!

  14. by kaleephili

    On September 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    google last regions combined

  15. by Wendy

    On February 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I taught our daughter a few signs around 12 months (more, water, milk). We started using Signing Time videos around 18 months and she picked them up quick. By the third time through she was already doing several new signs. Ater a week she knew almost all of them. If we say any of the words or she sees one in a picture she’ll do the sign. It’s so cute to see!

  16. by Garth Talentino

    On July 1, 2011 at 7:44 pm

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