Sunday, January 20, 2008

Children: Sign Language for Babies

I tried signing with my daughter, and using American Sign Language (ASL) has far exceeded my expectations. When I started signing with my daughter, I only planned to teach her the basics: EAT, FOOD, MORE, and PLEASE. I asked for a baby sign language dictionary for Christmas. And amazingly, I didn't care which one--clearly indicative that I had no grand plans to teach my daughter the hundreds of signs she now knows. If I had known, I would have spent hours and hours researching the best books and resources. Instead, I ended up doing the research after we had already begun signing.

ASL with my daughter has been a journey for my family. We started using ASL with the hopes of easing simple communication frustrations--but it opened up a window to my child's mind. when she looked ou the window, signs allowed me to know she was fascinated by birds, trees, and dogs. In this picture, she's telling me about a AIRPLANE.

ASL let me in on her quirky sense of humor. By 14 months she was telling me I was SILLY and making jokes by placing her bowl upside down over her cup and signing HAT with a grin.

Recently, ASL has surprised me again. It has opened up a world of learning for her. The physical nature of ASL has made it easier for her to grasp abstract concepts--like the alphabet. At 20-months, she has begun to identify letters through speech and fingerspelling. And she understands that letters can form words and words stand for objects. Pretty impressive for her age!