FAQs

What is baby sign language?
Why teach a hearing baby sign language?
How early can I start to sign with my child?
How to teach baby signs?
Is it necessary to have prior experience with a formal sign language?
How long before my baby can sign back to me?
Can learning sign language delay speech?
My baby doesn’t do the signs correctly, is that ok?
Why choose a real sign language and not made up signs?
Should I use signs while reading to my child?
How can signing help my bilingual child?

What is baby sign language?
Baby sign language is a simplified version of a formal sign language (such as, for example, American Sign Language) and it is based on the concept of words signing combined with speech. It is usually used by adults and hearing children in order to achieve two way communication from a very early age.
Signing Playground aims at helping parents/caregivers and children to enhance early communication and learning skills by introducing them to ASL (American Sign Language) vocabulary.

Why teach a hearing baby sign language?
From the moment babies are born they start to learn about the world around them. Before they learn to speak, they express themselves through pointing, crying and screaming. This can be extremely frustrating for babies and parents as well. Even though babies lack the skills to talk, once they are around 6-12 months old, they have the skills to understand and use language, and to use their hands to sign.
Signing gives babies the opportunity to express themselves and communicate about things that interest them, reducing the frustrations that lead babies to behave negatively.
Research has shown that signing helps babies talk sooner.
When babies start talking their vocabularies are very limited as it takes time for them to learn new words. In addition, some words – like “scared” or “toilet” – are more difficult than others to master. Introducing signs to babies for words they cannot say or they pronounce in an unclear way can help bridge the gap until they learn the words.
Parents that use signs with their pre-verbal babies are more responsive to their children, feel less stressed and feel that they have a “window” into their babies’ minds.
Baby signing increases the bond between parent and baby, enhances baby’s self-expression, confidence and self-esteem, stimulates intellectual development and improve memory.

How early can I start to sign with my child?
Children who are introduced to signs earlier do learn and use them at a younger age. Each baby has an unique developmental timeline so each child will be able to reproduce the signs back to you at a different time, but, in general, babies can begin signing back to you somewhere between 6-12 months old.
As a rule of thumb when your child will be starting waving “hello” and “goodbye” he is ready to use signs as well.

How to teach baby signs?
Learning how to teach baby signs is as easy as teaching your baby to wave hello or goodbye. Just start by introducing a few signs like “milk”, “more”, “eat” and add more over time.
Make sure to use signs in relevant situations, sign and tell the word at the same time, be consistent and sign when your child is watching so he can see your hands clearly.

Is it necessary to have prior experience with a formal sign language?
No prior experience with sign language is necessary. Communicating through baby sign language does not require you to learn an entirely new language. Simply using a few of the most common signs with your child can make a huge difference in her ability to communicate her needs and desires.
Our classes and workshops are specially designed to help you get started using ASL vocabulary with your baby.

How long before my baby can sign back to me?
Each baby has an unique developmental timeline so the answer differs for each child, but, in general, babies can begin signing back to you somewhere between 6-12 months old.

Can learning sign language delay speech?
Quite the opposite! Research shows that baby sign language encourages babies to talk sooner and helps develop larger vocabularies.
Signing does not replace speech! Since words and signs are always used together, baby sign language helps babies to better remember words. As soon as a baby can say a word clearly enough to be understood, they will generally stop using the related sign, as it is easier for them to talk than to sign.

My baby doesn’t do the signs correctly, is that OK?
That’s absolutely fine. It’s like starting with “ba” and after a few months being able to say “ball”. As their fine motor skills develop so too will their accuracy with the signs. Continue to show your child the correct sign and remember to praise all your child’s attempts at signing.

Why choose a real sign language and not made up signs?
It will take a lot of effort for you to come up with your own made up system and your child will not benefit from learning a real language that can be used by other people involved in their life like caregivers, teachers or other children that use an real sign language system. Plus, there are great resources of real sign languages out there that you can use in your own advantage.

Should I use signs while reading to my child?
Studies show that children benefit better from reading if they are actively interacting with the book: their language skills are greater, and is especially helpful for children with limited vocabularies.
Parents who use signs with their pre-verbal babies report that their children take a great interest in books.
While reading ask your child open-ended questions and respond to your child attempts to communicate about the book.

How can signing help my bilingual child?
Sign language can be used as a bridge between languages.
When the child’s home language is different than the language being spoken in the country he lives in, or by other people he often interacts with, he will use signs whenever he needs to make himself understood.
Signing enhances language learning by giving your child two places in the memory to recall a word.
Parents teaching words like “milk” (English) and “lait” (French) can use the sign for milk, because the gesture itself is a natural indication of the concept “milk”.

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