12 May 2011, by Jaime Teo
I have read much about the power of sign language. In fact, many baby websites and books advocate teaching your child sign language as a powerful educational tool of earlier communication. It is supposed to lessen frustration for parent and child because they can communicate their wants/needs even before they can talk.
It made sense to me so I decided I would start trying it when she was a few months old.
The word I figured she’d have the most motivation to learn, was Milk. So that was the one word I focused all my energies on. Every time she drank milk, I’d open and close her little fingers and say “Milk”.
I can’t remember now at what age she started signing milk…. Maybe 10mths? But it was usually when we asked her to show us how to sign it. I was never sure if she was responding to us saying “Milk”, or that she was asking for milk.
Now that she is 13 months old, we are still teaching her to sign some words even as her vocabulary is growing. She can say “mama”, “papa”, and the last sounds of some words like “org” for “dog”or “ark” for “park”. The latter is one of her favourite words cos she loves going to the park. I’m not sure if I’m imagining it, but I think she looks at me funny when I ask her to sign “dog”. She sometimes obliges and other times says loudly, “org”. Like she’s wondering why Mommy needs her to sign a word she can actually say =p
It still makes me very thrilled when she responds with the correct signs for words like “hat”, or “book” or “milk” …. But I didn’t think she understood what she can do with those words… until recently.
We taught her the sign for “Please”. It is a little difficult for her to make that circular motion in front of her chest with one hand. Most times, she just puts her hand(s) on her chest for “please” — upon our request of course. It is the cutest sight cos I’m imagining her saying “Please” earnestly when she does that.
Last week, we were at a toy shop and there was toy with a steering wheel that she seemed quite taken with. I was wondering if we should buy that for her so Dan brought it to the counter to ask how much it costs.
The lady said it was $52 and I said “What? So expensive? Maybe we should buy that for her for Christmas or her birthday. At least have an occasion for it?”. At this point, Renee who was standing beside me and listening to our exchange did something that totally shocked me.
She looked at Daddy and then put her hands on her chest as if to say “Please”.
I (quite dumbly) said “She said please.”.
Then Dan whipped out his wallet and paid up.
She definitely knows more than we give her credit for.
Babies and sign language – very powerful indeed.