Language development is such a crucial part of child development. No matter what socio-economic or ethnic background a person is from, we all develop language from those around us. Most importantly from our family members. It is so true that a child’s first teacher is their parents.
For parents, finding that their child’s verbal skills is lacking can be disheartening. However, all is not lost. With some determination and knowledge, you can utilize many resources that shall help you advance your child’s verbal skills. One such resource is the use of sign language. I have seen this work tremendously! Don’t fret if you feel you don’t know sign language. To get children to communicate their wants and needs, all you need to do is teach yourself a few of the most important signs. You can learn more about basic sign language or otherwise known as baby sign language from the links at the bottom of the page.
In the meantime, here are some tips to begin with. But remember, consistency is key! Once you start, keep it going so your child will pick it up. Before you know it, your toddler will be communicating with you on a regular basis.
1. Start with names of people close to your child…. mom, dad, sister, brother.
2. Next include sign for daily routine or fun activities…. food (eat), bathroom (potty), sleep, play, music.
3. Use signs in conjunction with words when talking to your toddler and you will see how quickly they pick up on it.
4. Only introduce one word at a time a week. For example, the sign for drink or cup and use it whenever your child signals they are thirsty.
5. Use words consistently. Talk, talk, talk. Even when signing. Children are like sponges. The more language they hear, the more they soak up. Eventually they will have a memory bank of vocabulary words that they will soon be putting together for two word sentences.
Try these links for more information or to get you started:
Baby Sign Language: Words to Know
Baby Sign Language Chart