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Baby Sign Language is Fun for Everyone

British Sign Language (BSL) is one of the commonly used languages within the deaf community in the U.K. Baby sign language is based on BSL and is taught to parents and carers to communicate with hearing and deaf children and to babies as young as 8 months old. Children absorb information like sponges and can learn everyday words into Baby Sign Language very quickly. Babies naturally communicate by expressing their needs and emotions with gestures, even before their speech has developed. When a sign is taught the word is spoken together with the use of facial expressions, helping to develop vocabulary and to make learning interesting and fun. Babies love seeing movement and hearing voices – for them to see your hands making a sign and listening to your voice, will interest them and help with their looking and listening skills.

Research has shown that children who have learnt sign language at an early age seem to be more advanced in their early vocabulary, reading, writing and spelling skills. Sign language has to be fun for the children to concentrate and take interest, with the use of puppets, visual aids or coloured gloves this is turned into a playful learning experience. Whatever a child’s ability, autism, dyslexia or behavioural problems for example, they can relate to sign language and use it to express their feelings and needs. Depending on the baby or child’s ability introducing new signs over a period of time, maybe, one or two per week, will soon start making a difference and build up a great new language. Repetition of these new signs into your everyday conversation or routine will help the child to understand and learn the sign.

To name a few topics for first signs would be my family, animals, food, drink, emotions and feelings, daily routine (ie; nappy, bath, sleep), weather, activities and manners. Signing is fun and everyone can learn it whatever your age. It enables many people to communicate whether they are deaf or hearing and it can become a great language for all the family to learn together.

To teach your child Baby Sign Language will enable you to understand your baby before they can speak, making them a more happier and contented baby and bringing you closer together making the bond even stronger.

There are books, videos, DVD’s and learning materials available to assist you with your teaching and learning – Forest Books is a very good company who stock many of these items.

Melanie Preece is the proprietor of Towcester Tots Day Nursery. She teaches Baby Sign Language in the Nursery’s everyday routine. She holds a BSL Level II certificate and trains her staff in sign language for them to teach the children in the Nursery from 8 months upwards.

Towcester Tots Day Nursery, 2 Watling Street East, Towcester, Northants, NN12 6AF – Tel: 01327 354007.

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