Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Parent to Parent: Baby Sign Language
Everyone knows that when babies cry they are trying to tell us something. Like they're hungry or tired or wet. But what if your child could communicate with you without saying a word and without crying? "Signing on" to a new language -- in tonight's Parent to Parent.
WSVN -- Every parent has looked at their baby's sweet face and wondered, "What would my baby say if he or she could talk?"
At the "Baby Signs" class at Gymboree in Kendall, certified instructor Julia Santeliz teaches babies 22 months and under to communicate through signing.
Julia Santeliz, Baby Sign Language Instructor: "Very basic signs like eat and more and sleep and bath. Just the very basic, everyday signs that you use."
Nina and Eduardo Monteiro say their 11-month old son Marcelo has benefitted from baby sign classes.
Nina Monteiro: "I've heard so many good things about it. That it helps later on when they turn two years old, and they don't know what to tell you."
Seven's parenting expert Dr. Valerie Goode says sign language can help promote verbal skills.
Dr. Valerie Goode: "Anything that increases the level of communication in a family is going to make things better."
She says babies automatically use non-verbal language all the time.
Dr. Valerie Goode: "We look at our children, we watch them. They are telling us a whole story before they even speak."
But Dr. Valerie says you can't replace teaching children to say words. Here's what she recommends:
First, slow down, speak directly to your child ... not in passing.
Also, make an effort to explain things more than once.
And get down to their level.
Dr. Valerie Goode: "Try to see if you are getting an understanding from your child, and you can look in their eyes, get down to their level. You can sing nursery rhymes, you know, sing songs, read books."
It's also important to understand your parental role in terms of speaking.
Dr. Valerie Goode: "You might be jumping every time your child points to the juice, so, instead of making your child say, 'juice,' your child goes like this." She points.
Instead, be patient and help them verbalize it.
In the meantime, learning to sign can't hurt.
And research has shown that teaching babies sign language as early as eight months can speed up the process of learning to talk.
Marcelo's parents say he started signing the word "lights" about a week after taking the class, reinforcing the fact that babies have a lot to say, even if they can't say it yet.
Eduardo Monteiro: "You think that they don't understand anything that you're saying, that they can't communicate, then, before you know it, they're talking to you."
Dr. Valerie says if you suspect a problem with your child's speech, you may want to have their hearing tested or seek out a speech therapist.
IF YOU HAVE A CONCERN DR. VALERIE CAN HELP YOU WITH E-MAIL US AT:
Baby Signs Classes at Gymboree
7711 SW 62 Ave. Suite 203
Miami, FL 33143