Thursday, January 13, 2011

Signing, Speaking, Reading!

It's been about a month but with the busyness of the holidays and the birthday celebrations in our home I got rushed and didn't make time to write about a very special milestone!

Since Adia and Rasa were about four months old we started doing sign language with them. Although teaching sign language to babies is not a new concept we LOVED the idea of our babies being able to communicate needs early on since we'd have double the needs and likely double the frustration at the same time. Studies show that babies who sign communicate verbally faster than their non signing peers because it develops that part of the brain faster.

I'll never forget when Rasa had just hit 6 months and Lucy had ran past her how excited she got and then right out of the blue signed dog! I couldn't believe it. I grabbed the video camera and she did it again!

The same thing when Adia was 8 months old and signed "all done". It was so strange because I'm looking at this little chunky baby and she's talking to me with a statement that's very - not baby! I didn't believe she could possibly know what she meant and when I offered her more she gave me a stern look and signed "all done" again as to say aren't you listening to me lady! I'll never forget the look on her face when I said "ok, all done" and she connected with me like WOW you actually understand me!

Every time the girls would learn new signs they always knew when to use them to let you know it was very real that they were in fact communicating! When they started learning dozens of signs they began talking and then signing and talking together. It's been fascinating to watch. Both of their vocabularies have been advanced and we believe wholeheartedly it's because of sign language.

They enjoyed signing so I kept teaching. I've been learning too! It's great even now when they're saying a word and I can't figure out what it is that I can sometimes ask them to sign it and we figure it out.

For an early Christmas present I gave each of them a children's book of sign language. In each book are words and a photo of a person signing the words. Some of the words have drawings like "play" for instance has a tree fort and some have just the word and the photo of the sign. I wasn't sure if they would be able to understand the words based on a still photo of the sign, especially since almost all signs are with your hands moving. They sat next to each other, side by side, and both read each book together out loud! They got 9 out of 10 pages! I was so proud! It's amazing to see something you've been teaching come to life like that. It was even more amazing for me to see how proud they were of themselves and how much fun they were having! They were happy to be reading!!

It's really been a fun and rewarding experience to see this circle develop with sign language and how it started out as our only means of communication, then it turning into an aid to verbal language that is now turning into an aid to reading and recognizing written words. I love that it's a second language and that the girls will be able to use it throughout their lives. The best bonus of all is that we do it as a family and we're all learning and having fun together.

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