Babies who cannot communicate effectively tend to throw tantrums. In case you are not able to guess why the child is distraught, the situation gets helpless as it makes the child inconsolable. Teaching your child to use sign language can allow your child to communicate what they want, providing a bridge to the spoken word. Know that babies and toddlers are able to understand far more than they can express. Hence sign language is the much needed skill to articulate speech until the age of 10-12 months when auditory skills are underdeveloped.
You can begin demonstrating when your child can hold your gaze for a couple of seconds i.e. when the child is between the age of 6-8 months. Start with three to five signs, using eye contact and saying the word out loud. Add additional words when you begin to make progress.
Allows two-way communication
It helps reduce the guesswork of understanding your infantâ€™s thoughts, allowing a better understanding between you two. Remember youâ€™re not formally â€œteachingâ€ signs as such, just adding simple gestures which are easily linked to the objects. It doesnâ€™t really matter what the sign is, as long as you agree on its meaning.
Vocabulary and Language skills
When you are teaching your child sign language, do it by saying the name of the sign out loud and many times as you show your child the sign. This repetition may help to expand your childâ€™s horizon of both auditory and visual vocabulary and language skills.
Reading & Spelling proficiency
Research supports that children who learn sign language in infancy have better reading and spelling skills. As sign language is a visual language, it involves using the visual and attention skills which are very important skills in both learning and social interactions.
Increased memory retention
The practice of sign language stimulates and engages children of different learning styles. When children use sign language, they are learning visually, verbally, and kinaesthetically all at the same time.
Teaching to use sign language can support in development of your childâ€™s fine motor skills. Your child gets to practice fine motor skills as they learn to sign back to you.
Stimulate brain development
When learning sign language both the left and right hemisphere of the brain are used compared to learning a spoken language, which only uses the brainâ€™s left hemisphere. Signing children are also found to have higher IQ at a later stage.
Children are all different and may or may not show an interest in signing
Visual attention skills and Joint attention skills
Teaching using and understanding sign language requires a child to utilize his visual and joint attention skills, both of which are very important skills in both learning and social interactions.