I belong to one of those locally based Facebook mommy pages; chances are you do too. In the last few weeks I have noticed an increase in questions regarding speech delays and denials from the school district to provide early intervention. Here in my town this is the time of the year when the school district tests little ones under three that may need supplemental therapy paid for and provided by the district.
Speech Delays Are Not Necessarily Learning Delays
The number of denials are heartbreaking, but the reasoning behind some denials absolutely makes sense. You see, many of these little ones are incredibly smart and seem to be engaged in age-appropriate activities and interactions at all levels except speech. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) one out of every 12 children 3 to 17 suffers from some sort of disorder related to voice, speech, language or swallowing. There is a good probability you know someone with a lisp or you are currently trying to figure out why one of your kiddos is having a hard time sounding out certain consonants. The reality is that in most cases a language delay is not necessarily an intellectual delay. To this end, it is essential that you as a parent empower your little one with tools that provide transitional access to communication to better equip them to continue learning while they tackle their delays through therapy and training.
Empower Your Child With Communication Tools That Matter
If your child is of typical intelligence and he is unable to communicate specific needs due to a speech delay you are setting the stage for a very frustrated baby. Work around the problem through the use of baby sign language or board-based communication. Many parents are hesitant thinking that by giving their kids a way to communicate their will further delay speech. The reality is that your kiddo wants to speak as much as you want them to speak. When they are ready and the therapist has worked through the barriers that are hindering their speech your baby will talk. Meanwhile do what you have to do to ensure he or she feels like there is a connection that allows him to have their needs met.
Give Your Toddler Signs That Matter
When a baby is showing potential speech delays it is not a time for fun and games. Be intentional about the signs that you teach him to ensure you are not neglecting a basic need. Take time to teach your toddler emotional signs that will allow him to reach out for help. Scared, sad, happy or lonely should be introduced early one. Teaching this signs in tandem with signs for the basics such as food and warmth will better equip your little one to help you give him a happy and healthy life.
Team Up With Your Speech Therapist
Don’t try to do this alone. Take time to chat with your speech therapist and have them help you put together a plan that helps your baby communicate as early as possible while still working on verbal skills. There are many tricks of the trade, games and educational activities that can accelerate learning and get your little one where he needs to be as soon as possible.
Don’t delay your baby’s path to communication any further. Get started with your kit today. Our premium kit has everything you need to support a baby sign language curriculum from birth to preschool. You can browse through our kit by visiting our Baby Sign Language Store
We frequently receive correspondence from early child development professionals looking for ways to introduce babies to baby sign language in the classroom environment. We have received numerous reports from educators around the globe highlighting how baby sign language has been helpful in their classrooms and play groups. Based on the feedback we have received we want to share with you a few of the ways in which learning signs is proving to be helpful for babies, toddlers and preschoolers attending daycare, early childhood intervention and Head Start Programs.
Baby Sign Language Provides Consistent Communication Skills Across Many Backgrounds
Whether a child comes from a different ethnic background or a household with different cultural nuances once a little one makes it to daycare the need to have common means of communication becomes essential to their emotional health and academic progress. By using baby sign language in the classroom both the educator and child can make the connection between words and concepts. For the non-native English speaker knowing the sign for nap will help him or her connect the dots between the action and the word they hear at home. Similarly babies will be able to overcome regional differences and learn synonyms such as binkie or pacifier.
Baby Sign Language Empowers Babies at an Early Stage in Life to Convey Basic Needs
Both at home and at daycare one of the most important reasons to introduce babies to baby sign language is empowerment. A baby who is able to effectively communicate primal needs such as hunger or thirst will be a happier baby with far less chances of resorting to tears or tantrums to convey their frustration. Imagine how impactful it can be if by signing you reduce tantrums in the classroom by at least half. Now you will have more time to teach, love and create memories with the little ones.
Baby Sign Language is Helpful in the Development of Motor Skills
Non-verbals are as important as words when it comes to communication skills. By reinforcing speech with signs not only do we equip toddlers to have clarity in conveying ideas, we also provide them with the means to refine their motor skills and make gestural associations between word and movement. One of the most effective ways to maximize motor skills development through baby sign language is by using key signs in combination with simple songs that highlight age-appropriate activities pointing to self-reliance.
Baby Sign Language Reduces Distractions During Learning Units
Keeping order in the classroom and having the ability to engage the group in activities conducive to learning is essential. Baby Sign Language can give toddlers the means to communicate urgent needs such as potty or thirsty without raising their voice or distracting the rest of the group. This is specially useful during reading circle or group play.
Baby Sign Language Aids in the Development of Social Skills with Peers
There is nothing more frustrating to a little one than wanting to communicate something to a peer and failing due to lack of appropriate words. Baby sign language creates a common language among your students allowing them to better engage with others in play and cooperation. Concepts such as share, mine, more and thanks can make a world of difference on how little ones engage with each other.
If you are a teacher, caregiver or preschool administrator consider our Baby Sign Language Teaching Guide. The guide contains advanced teaching methods suitable for the classroom. In tandem with our core signs Flash Card Set you can begin introducing babies & toddlers in your classroom to the world of signing.
This beautiful infographic comes courtesy of the Extension at the University of Illinois. The tips provided can easily be combined with a baby sign language curriculum. If you don’t have your baby sign language resources yet you can find them at our baby sign language shop.
“Anxiety is rooted in uncertainty; empowering a baby to communicate basic needs
is the key to a less anxious and more content little one.”
Let’s talk baby anxiety. One of the most commonly voiced concerns from parents is knowing how to meet and understand the needs of their babies. The earlier a parent learns to recognize and address specific needs and wants the better it will be for everyone involved. During the first six months every mom and dad makes a concerted effort to identify general needs for food, warmth and security. But even when a parent invests a great deal of time and personal attention with baby it is not uncommon to face a tantrum or a frustrated child who is unable to voice their true needs.
Teaching our babies how to sign will give them the communication tools needed for the pre-verbal stage. During the pre-verbal stage babies are not anatomically or intellectually ready for speech but are able to understand concepts. Language development begins during the neonatal stage but most little ones don’t begin speaking until age one to two. Let’s take a look at five common situations where having mastered basic baby signs will make a world of difference.
When we developed our introductory guide to baby sign language we asked many friends and everyone agreed that hunger and thirst are the most common reasons for a frustrated baby. In fact, if there is one sign you want to teach your baby first, it is the sign for milk. For some parents this is done in the context of lactation, for others the sign is introduced as soon as the baby begins to take formula.
We loved introducing our babies to signs related to environmental comfort. Cold and hot were part of our ten first signs. We reinforce the signs by signing cold when we are about to go outside and signing hot when our babies get sweaty and we are about to remove their layers. We also use games of contrast by putting a couple of bowls with iced water and warm water.
We firmly believe that affection and attention are as important as food. To help our babies communicate emotional needs we incorporated signs like hug and scared. We also taught our kids to sign when they wanted to be picked up.
Recreation & Exploration
Every baby is unique and they will form unique interests based on their personality. When babies become bored it is not uncommon to see expressions of frustration and anxiety through crying. To help your baby further explore his interests consider teaching signs for objects and locations that bring your baby joy and satisfaction. We were quick to introduce the signs for playground, bear (for a favorite teddy) and outside. It is beautiful to see our little ones sign to let us know their specific desire to engage with a particular toy or head to a certain setting like the park.
We can’t emphasize this enough. Knowing the signs that identify those that mean the most to our babies will totally change their communication dynamic. Signs like mom, dad, grandma and nanny can allow your baby to quickly access the person they need the most.
If you have not yet started to sign with your baby we invite you to take a look at our quick start guide. Thousands of parents around the world have benefited from sign language. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to give your baby an edge.
You got the kit, you got the time and you got a baby eager to learn and discover. The first summer with a toddler can set the stage for a lifetime of learning based on exploration. Get your stroller out, put some sunscreen on and let’s do some summer baby sign language activities.
Head to a Pick-Your-Own Farm
If your little one is now walking a pick your own farm is one of the best adventures ever. Pick a fruit that is reachable by little hands such as strawberries or grapes and take time to prepare by selecting five or ten signs relevant to the outdoor experience. One of my favorite things to teach when visiting a farm is flavors, textures and colors. With berries we explored the signs for sweet and sour and we learned colors such as red and green. We also included the sign for basket and we practiced the sign for more.
Host a Garden Tea Party
This is a great morning activity when you are lucky enough to have a large tree providing shade. It is also a lovely opportunity to take beautiful pictures of your little ones. Get the teddy bear and doll out, set up a few cups, make or buy a cake and consider playing dress up and wearing a hat. Sign in context and have your little one practice the signs for things like table and chair.
Head to the Playground
If you want to have loads and loads of fun with your baby there is nothing more fun than the playground. Along with meeting other little ones the playground provides endless opportunities to refine motor skills and burn some energy. It is in this context that I have found baby sign language to be the most useful. Being able to give an instruction to my little one when he is not within arm’s reach is the best gift ever. When heading to the playground take time to practice words such as slide, swing and run.
Have a Picnic With Favorite Foods
This ranks really high in my book. Through summer indoor and outdoor picnics we have had the opportunity to learn and discover new foods and flavors. Get a hold of little bento boxes and have fun helping your baby explore their taste preferences. Their faces when they first experience a flavor is something to behold. Our flashcard kit contains at least 20 food signs that are ready to use.
Have Some Screen Time
If the day is super hot it is best to stay indoors. We are not huge fans of excessive screen time but a good 30 minutes of sing-along using the Baby Signing Time DVDs may just be the break you need to get things done in the house. Exposing your baby to rhythm and music at an early age can make a world of difference in their ability to memorize words and repeat new words.