Sign and Play
As parents, we go to great lengths to provide our kids with the best life experience. We have stacks of parenting books next to our beds, we take endless pictures to remember all the “firsts,” we find interesting activities and friends, we expose them to culture, books, new places, etc. This is all in addition to the endless basic care we give them. But at the end of the day, we should all keep in mind that parenting is really about building a relationship with our children. A positive and healthy parental relationship is what makes our children feel safe, loved, and able to function successfully in the world. And at the very heart of any healthy relationship, we find good communication.
The latest research shows us that the basis for building a healthy relationship with your child is face-to-face time (Strasburger, 2007). Babies require face-to-face interactions to learn. The new study by Zimmerman and Christakis suggests that children who were read to or had storytelling time with their parents showed an increase in language skills.
Signing with your child offers an excellent opportunity for face-to-face time. After all, signing is not possible unless you and your child are facing each other and making eye contact. "Every interaction with your child is meaningful," says Christakis. "Time is precious in those early years, and the newborn is watching you, and learning from everything you do."
To read more about the research: CNN Time article
Ideas for face-to-face time with your child:
- Respond to their cues as they talk to you
- React to the grimaces and giggles
- Mimic their sounds
- Extrapolate from ‘bababa’ to bottle
- Label and sign things they touch and see
- Read and sign their favorite book
- Sing and sign children’s rhymes
- Play hide and seek with signing
*by Etel Leit
Sign with Games
*Play “Hide and Seek” with people, pets, or objects. Sign WHERE, LOOK FOR, and the name of the appropriate person, animal, or toy. Objects can be hidden around the room or on the signer’s or baby’s body.
*Go on a treasure hunt together. Tell baby what you are looking for by signing WHERE ________? Look in various places, and when the object is not there, shake head “no” while saying and signing “not IN _______”. When you find it , excitedly exclaim that you FOUND _________. Play this game inside or outside.
*Play the “Repeat” game. Ring the doorbell, turn the lights, music, or a fan on and off, and use the signs MORE, ON, OFF.
*Play the “Drop and Help” game. Babies love to throw things from their high chairs. Provide safe objects and wait for baby to drop them on the floor. Ask “do you need HELP?” Elicit signs for HELP and/or the names of the objects.
*Play “Memory”. Spread out pictures or photos on the floor or table. Have the baby pick a picture and then model the sign, or tell the baby which picture to choose by signing the name of the object.
*by Love to Sign