Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas: A Great Time for Signing

We here at Baby Signs love holidays! One reason is that holidays seem inevitably to bring fun stories from parents about how their preverbal kids have used signs to share observations, memories, or requests with the big people around them. Here are two such stories about Christmas.

Elf on the Shelf. 3-year-old Natalie’s parents had introduced her to the Christmas elf right after Thanksgiving but had assumed that Natalie’s 15-month-old brother, Henry, was too young to care much about it. Just in case, though, they taught him the sign for “elf” (using thumb and forefinger to trace a pointed left ear). And it only took 4 mornings of rushing around the house with Natalie looking for the elf for Henry to get with the game. From then on, as soon as anyone walked into his bedroom to get him up in the morning, he would greet them excitedly with the sign combination WHERE + ELF and run to find Natalie to start the hunt. Thanks to the Baby Signs Program, Natalie and Henry’s parents were treated to a glimpse of sibling cooperation in place of sibling rivalry!

Santa Claus. 15-month-old Maddy had been pretty leery of the bearded man in the bright red suit inviting her to sit on his lap in the department store and had cried until her mother sat with her. From then on, whenever she saw a picture of Santa Claus she would rapidly make the sign for “afraid” and then move her open hands up and down her chest (her sign for “clothes”). Why “clothes?” Maddy’s mom quickly figured it out: “Clothes” was as close to “Claus” as Maddy could get!

These are just two of the many heartwarming signing stories in our archives. Beyond symbolizing the Yule Tide spirit, they also provide examples of the marvelous way that signs enable babies to share their worlds—whether it’s excitement, fear, or fascination.

It’s because we know how the signing experience can enrich parent child relationships that we are trying to raise funds to enable us to bring the magic of signing to low income, teen, and foster families, as well as families in the military. Please help us with a holiday gift of your own by visiting our Baby Signs Scholarship page. And if you can’t help monetarily at this time, you can still help by telling your family and friends about this worthwhile project.

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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