Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

When was I pregnant, I had more than a few different people ask me if I was going to “sign” with my baby. I hadn’t heard of the growing trend of using ASL to communicate with your child before they can really speak, so I couldn’t really say.

But once I learned a little bit more about it, I thought it might be pretty cool. I enrolled in a signing class with my good friend and her daughter, P, when O was about six or seven months old.

In theory, it was cool. I even took another advanced signing class. But as a working mom dealing with some personal issues at the time, trying to remember to sign just didn’t work. I didn’t have the time or energy to be that dedicated. I figured he’d learn to talk soon enough.

But that good friend? She kept at it. And with a fervor I can only dream of having. I was, and am, amazed. Soon enough her daughter started signing back. And how cute it was.

One day last week at daycare I sat O next to P at breakfast. I started giving P some pieces of O’s granola bar. She signed “more” to me–the first time I witnessed that particular sign. I oohed and awwed, and, of course, gave her more granola bar.

Later that evening, I was feeding O. To my amazement, he started signing “more” to me after he finished all his fruit. I flipped my lid. I called some people. I was that excited. He learned to sign from P!

In about two weeks time, he’s learned “eat,” “baby,” and “milk.” He’s working on “cracker”–P’s latest accomplishment.

It’s amazing how much these few signs have improved our relationship. O babbles a lot, and knows a few of the basic words, but that doesn’t always mean I know what he’s saying. Also, sometimes he’ll be so hungry, so thirsty, or so whatever, that he starts to melt down. All I have to do now is say “What’s wrong?” and he starts pounding his closed fist into his chin (the ultra-violent boy way of signing “eat”), signing milk, or “fake” rubbing his eyes (our sign for tired).

I can’t say this signing thing is foolproof. He tends to confuse “eat” with “more.” And sometimes he’ll pop right up from bed and start doing the chin pounding. I know he’s not hungry, but I think since I got so excited when he started signing, he gets a little overzealous himself.

But still, I’m amazed. Amazed that he picked it up so quickly–and amazed that he learned from his friend P! True evidence that kids really do learn from example. Now if I can just stop swearing and those other kids in daycare can stop biting…

3 thoughts on “Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

  1. I think the signing thing is so cool! Levi has a few he does, the first one being “finished” which has been a huge help when he’s eating. Of course, he also does it whenever he’s “finished” with anything he doesn’t want to do (like riding in the car, shopping at the grocery store, chatting with the neighbors on our way to the playground, etc.)

  2. I wanted Cassie to learn signs, but we didn’t really try that hard and she never did them. Fortunately, she was an early talker, so it all worked out. Here is a sample sentence: “I want to get down now!”

  3. We started working on signs around 10 mos. I picked up a few books at a yard sale for $.50 each and she really liked looking at the babies making each sign. Honestly, we would read them to her probably once a day, but she looked at them over and over and I swear she was picking it up from the repetition of seeing the babies in the books! Around 11 mos she was doing ‘more,’ ‘dog’ and ‘fish’ all the time. We continue to work on it with her and she contintues to ‘read’ her books. Now at 13 mos she does over 20 signs consistently. We are just amazed at how well we can comunicate with her!

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