I use to hear the question or statement, “baby sign will delay language” or “will baby sign delay language skills”. I have not hear this question for a while, and was asked to answer this question on Sunday’s Q& A. And of course, I would love to address this question 😀
The short answer is no!! In the early years, the human brain is developing and creating connection at an intense rate. They are learning every single day and signing allows babies to communicate with confidence MONTHS before they can orally.
(Look closely at Miss K’s hands she is signing while she was JUST over 12 months)!
I think that some confusion is that people interchange the worlds for language and speech where there is significant difference. Speech is the production of sounds to make words, and this process is complex. Speech includes the movement of lips, tongue, breathing, vocal cords and more. One the other hand, language is how we use words to express ideas, concepts and share. Language can be one or more of oral, written or gestures.
Katie from Playing with Words 365 has a wonderful blog to share the difference. She is also a Speech and Language Pathologist.
When a baby is using baby sign language (rather than made up gestures) they are using language! And bringing the gap to meaningful communication. And how wonderful is it that a non-verbal baby, late talker, child with a special need can use a way to communicate their needs and have a sense of empowerment over their environment?!
When asked, I often share that one goal in gross motor development is walking by give or take one years (12 months). As children work towards this milestone, they will start by learning to be on their stomach which promotes muscle development in their neck, chest, abs, arms and legs. Then they will start to hold up their head. Soon enough they will learn to roll (usually tummy to back before back to tummy), eventually starting to crawl in various forms. After crawling they will pull their body to standing and learn to cruise before finally walking independently. We would never consider not encouraging a baby to take these progressively more challenging movements and say, “no you need to learn to walk”. Then why is learning baby sign looked at in a different way instead of supporting children in their development and allowing them to communicate with confidence?
Want to know more that is not from me? The Mayo Clinic promotes the use of Baby Sign Language stating, “Baby sign language — when babies use modified gestures from American Sign Language — can be an effective communication tool. Teaching and practicing baby sign language also can be fun and give you and your child an opportunity to bond.”
Still not sold on the fact that signing promotes language development? Let’s dig into more research!
Linda Acredolo, Susan Goodwyn and Susan Brown conducted a study to find out if signing with hearing infants would delay the milestone of language. Their study was published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior 24(2), Summer 2000 Q 2000 Human Sciences Press, Inc. Here is part of their findings: “At a more subtle level, the symbolic gestures themselves constitute a “scaffold” by enabling children to gather information about the symbolic function in general and about the specific objects, events, and conditions that make up their world. The child with a symbolic gesture for flower, for example, learns that one entity (i.e., a movement) can stand for a very different entity (e.g., flower) for the purposes of communication. He or she also learns that buttercups and dandelions are flowers, but that broccoli is not. Similarly, the child with a gesture for “noise” can draw her father’s attention to dogs barking outside, airplanes flying behind the clouds, or even sounds she can’t identify”
or perhaps, “What they found was that, on average, the children in the group of families using signs had better language skills than the other groups. For example, children in the signing group had bigger vocabularies and used longer sentences when they were two years old . In the studies that have been done on using signs with infants and young children, none have shown that using signs causes a delay in language development. Another study by Susan Goodwyn, Linda Acredolo, and Catherine Brown showed that children whose parents taught them to use signs before they could talk – starting at 11 months old – had better language skills than a group of comparison children whose parents did not teach them to use signs . These language skills included children understanding more words from the time they were 15 months, and using more words and longer sentences from the time they were 2 years old until the end of the study when they were 3 years old.”
Our classes are also language rich as teach baby sign language through music, signing, movement, sensory activities. we encourage parents to constantly talk with their children while using baby sign language to support and encourage verbal English or any other languages in their home.
Interested in joining our Network for Spring 2018?
March 2018 Classes!
PSST! Did you hear, we have a friendship Bonus: When you and a friend sign up for a class you both receive $10 off!
My Smart Hands Baby Sign Classes
Tuesdays starting March 13 (8 weeks)
10am – Level I
11am- Level II
1pm- Level I
Thursdays starting March 15 (8 weeks)
1pm – Level II
Positive Discipline Parenting
Tuesdays starting March 20 at 6:30pm
Thursdays starting March 15
10am – Salsa Babies
11am – Salsa Tots
All With Grace,