Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beyond Baby Signs

My youngest daughter will be two years old in just a couple of months.

This morning, we were standing in the kitchen, and she said (plain as day), "Milk, please!"

Yesterday, I told her how much I love her, and she said (so sweetly!), "I WUV you."

My baby is growing up, much faster than I like (or agreed to), and her ability to communicate with us is growing by leaps and bounds. I've already noticed that her "baby signs" are slowing down as her speech increases--and we're probably approaching the point that some parents would choose to stop signing.

But, we're not stopping with sign language just because Kate knows how to speak. If anything, this is the time that our signing will REALLY start to pick up. Here are our plans:

* Use signs for colors, letters, and numbers. We sing and sign Colors of the Rainbow and the ABC Song almost every day, usually during diaper changes or while we're standing in line someplace. I'm amazed at how quickly she's learning these "preschool" concepts.

* Use signs for new vocabulary, like names of foods and places that we go regularly, like the library. Because Signing Time is her favorite show to watch, many times a simple sign will trigger what she already knows about the concept.

* Navigate through tantrums by naming emotions and clarifying needs. When she throws herself down on the floor, I can get down next to her and say/sign, "Are you hungry, Kate?" "Are you ready to go to sleep?" Usually, she names one of those two things, but every once in a while, she'll sign GRUMPY or SAD, and I can apologize for being distracted or explain why it's not the best time for her to have what she wants/is screaming for.

* Use signs for potty training! She already knows the signs for POTTY, WIPE, FLUSH, and WIPE hands and she likes to "help" all the rest of us in the bathroom, even though she has no patience for sitting on the toilet herself yet.

And for our five year old? We're working on fingerspelling--which not only helps with literacy skills, but also helps build up her finger strength for holding a pencil. :)

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