We have been signing with Monkey since she was about six or seven months old. I still remember the first time she signed to me. Milk. she was about 10 months old and I cried. I was so proud of her first word.
In the last year or so she has picked up quite a few signs. Animals and foods, people and places, colors and more. I love it and although she has great verbal language skills I still try to encourage her to learn more.
It cracks me up when she gets excited about something and signs while talking without thinking about it. Like the other night while she was running through the fountains in our city’s downtown yelling “more water” and “where?” (as in “where did the water go?”) and signing more, water and where in her excitement. Or today when asked her if she was hungry and she signed sandwich while emphatically telling me “I need sandwich.” Apparently she was famished and knew just what she needed.
We started off teaching Monkey signs that I remembered from the ASL (American Sign Language) class I took in college. Eventually we started looking up words online and supplementing with books and movies too. Whatever your opinion is on babies and toddlers watching TV, I know that Monkey learned new words to communicate with every time she watched a “My Baby Can Talk” or “Signing Time” video. As a result Alex and Leah are up there with Elmo in her mind. They are beyond cool. The kind of cool that requires made up songs like: “Awex and Weah, Awex and Weah, Awex and Weah, Hockins and Weah.”
I can’t be certain that signing has somehow given her a head start or that her communication skills have been strengthened by signing, but I have a feeling that signing has been nothing but beneficial to her and Luke and I. After all, when your baby can’t verbally tell you whats wrong it sure is nice that she can tell you through signs.