Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Baby Sign Language in the News!

Infant Sign Language May Help Kids Communicate Sooner

(Springfield, MO) -- Most parents remember their child's first words. Baby normally first says "mamma or dadda" before his or her first birthday. But a new trend in childcare is helping kids learn to communicate months earlier. Several daycare centers around the Ozarks are teaching infants sign language. The theory is that helping kids learn how to communicate sooner will make them happier and help them learn more quickly.
Winifred Pyle is 15 months old, but when she was seven months she started talking with her hands. "I think it really helped her be less frustrated in general, so she's not crying all the time," said her mother Krista Pyle. Missouri State University's Child Development Center is one of several childcare centers around the Ozarks that teaches babies sign language.

Teacher Amanda Lee said she's seen first hand how signing can help kids absorb more knowledge at a younger age. "The more pathways you create to that information the better they'll be able to learn in the future," said Lee. Infants start learning sign language as early as six weeks old, and one of the first signs they learn, is milk. Lee says parents do sometimes have concerns that teaching their children to sign might make them delay speech.

But so far Lee said she hasn't seen any evidence of that. And neither has Winifred's mom. "She's also verbalizing a lot. She's realizing she can't sign for everything," said Pyle.Lee said children usually start visibly comprehending sign language around six months, and can communicate back about a month later. "If you can make their first communication with your child be seven or eight months instead of twelve months that's four extra months you're already able to meet your child's needs," said Lee.

So from diapers to books, Winifred and her mom are able to have a conversation without saying a word. "As long as I can understand her and she can understand me, I feel like that is crucial," said Pyle.


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