Monday, December 9, 2013

Baby Signs and Early Head Start

One of the best gifts a professor can receive is when a student decides to follow in his or her footsteps. I was incredibly lucky in this way when a bright and energetic graduate student chose to focus her career on extending the signing work Dr. Susan Goodwyn and I had done at UC Davis. This student was Claire Vallotton—now Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University.

One direction she took was to determine if signing would have benefits for low-income families as it had with middle-income families in our own work. To this end, she conducted a study with families from an Early Head Start Program in Northern California. The positive results were published last year in the journal, Early Childhood Research Quarterly (Vol. 27, 2012, pp.401-415). Here is a brief summary in her own words of what she found:

“Mothers in the ISI [Infant Sign Intervention] group were more attuned to changes in children’ affect and more responsive to children’s distress cues. Mothers in the intervention group also viewed their children more positively, reducing parenting-related stress. This study provides evidence that a simple infant sign intervention is an effective tool to promote bidirectional communication and positive interactions for preverbal children and their parents (p. 401).”

Claire’s results provide a great backdrop for our current Baby Signs Scholarship Fund project. Through the website Rockethub, we are building a fund to provide financially-strapped groups like Early Head Start and teen and foster parent programs with Baby Signs® Program trainings and resources. We’d love to have your help! Please visit for details--and if you’re unable to contribute monetarily at this time, you can still help by telling your family and friends about the Baby Signs® Program and this worthwhile initiative.

Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!


Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs® Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis
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