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Brady Learns to Sign

by Maureen Slamer

How Do We Help Our Littlest Ones to Communicate?

Words are not yet available to our youngest littles.  They communicate by cries, grunts, screams, and squeals. It is sometimes difficult and often frustrating to figure out exactly what a child wants. Baby sign language is being used in some daycare centers and can support a child’s early attempts to communicate prior to spoken language or talk. Those signs are visual reference points for children; they have meaning. When coupled with words, the signs make an even greater impact. This can encourage our littles to communicate and help us as parents to understand what they are trying to say. Our modeling  provides the demonstrations they need to be able to access and learn our language. Our responses to their first attempts or approximations provide the early examples and support they need for learning. Our model becomes a springboard for their learning.

“Mom, Brady’s daycare is teaching him to sign,” Sarah said as she lifted Brady into his high chair. “I know a couple of them and it seems to help. I know the signs for more and all done.”

“Is that something I should know?” Mom asked. “If it will help with meal times, I am game.”

“Maybe. Meal times are the worst.” Sarah sat and gave Brady his lunch. Small chunks of meatballs, slivers of banana, and small trees of cooked broccoli littered his plate. “He only likes meatballs.  I keep trying to introduce new things.  It can be so frustrating!”

“Getting kids to eat can be tricky!” Mom watched as lunch time unfolded.

Brady began to eat. Brady eyed the banana. He picked it up and held it to his mouth.  “Uh oh,” Brady said as he leaned over the side of the tray. Sarah lunged. She missed.

“Bra-a-ady!” Sarah picked the banana off the floor. “We EAT bananas, Brady. They’re yummy! At least you tried the broccoli! ” Brady pointed to the counter and grunted. “What do you want, Brady? More?” Sara asked, pinching her fingers and  moving her hands back and forth. Brady made the same movement. “You want more. More meatballs?” Brady nodded.

'' More ''

“Broccoli?” Brady motioned all done. 

“All done with broccoli?” Brady nodded.

'' All Done ''

“Okay, more meatballs.” Sarah sighed and moved to the counter. She placed more chunks of meatballs on the plate and walked to the highchair. “Can you say please, Brady?” She waited. “Can you say please?”

“Peas,” Brady said.

“Brady, you said please!” Sarah smiled and her mom grinned. “Well, that went smoother! I wonder what other signs I should learn?”

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