Why Sign? Giving your child a head start

You may have come across baby signing before, or you might be trying to find out more about it.  In brief, it is the use of gesture (or sign), in conjunction with speech, to enable young children to communicate what they may need or want, to their parents and other carers, before speech begins.

The results are incredible - calm, confident children who generally have better language acquisition at an earlier age.

At just 6 months old (sometimes younger), a baby's motor skills are sufficiently developed to make simple gestures, enabling them to bridge the communication gap and show their parents what they need.  To put this into perspective, at 12-15 months babies will only have around ten words (ICAN) - most of which will be unclear, leading to frustrating periods for toddlers as they try to communicate using their just-developing speech.

Studies have highlighted the detrimental effects of stress - the release of the hormone cortisol - in babies under 36 months; using signing is a simple, but effective, tool that enables your child to let you know that they need or want something before tears and distress set in.

Using signing with children enhances the caregiver role enormously.  It means that parenting is always responsive, respectful and meeting a childs most immediate needs.  A child can be confident that they will have their needs attended to and by being reassured of this, over and over again, it allows a child to concentrate on higher level learning, facilitating exploration of their world.  Over time, signing allows a child to share their thoughts and interests, much sooner - sometimes many months before - a child would be able to verbalise what was on their mind.  At the same time, using signing supports emerging speech and helps carers and parents to distinguish between words.

The benefits of signing do not end when speech begins. As babies become toddlers, there is even more need for signing as frustration really manifests itself at this difficult transition age; signing is particularly beneficial from 12 months onwards as it's been suggested that up to 90% of toddler tantrums are linked to a need to eat, drink, sleep or receive comfort.  These are very easy signs to implement and use at this critical age, restoring calm for everyone and enhancing bonding.

Whilst it’s not quite possible to say that signing is a magic cure all, the use of signing is an incredible preventative, putting a stop to toddler frustration and upset very effectively.  Signing makes the guesswork disappear and as an added benefit, everyone in your family is able to join in with the ‘conversation’.  Best of all it can be put into place so easily and quickly.

Little Signers Club is committed to delivering the very best signing classes that you can attend.  We have realised that not everyone can get to our expertly taught classes and so we have put together some of our most popular signs, nursery rhymes and top tips in a series of easy baby and toddler online signing programmes to support your signing journey  - wherever you are.

At the very least you will have a great deal of fun - but, with a little effort, we'll guarantee that you will gain a confident, more communicative child who can let you know what they need – and who doesn’t want that?

"Who wouldn’t want their child to be the first amongst their peers to be communicating, to be the most chilled out, to be happier, to have a real head-start?" Ben, baby signing Daddy to Fin

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