Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?
– “Signs” by Five Man Electrical Band
That song literally has virtually nothing to do with this article, but I like that classic 70’s tune and this post is about signs. Sign language that is.
We jumped on board the signing train at roughly the same time we introduced solids into the diet (~6 months). Care and I knew early on that communicating with the little ones would make life much easier. What we did not know is that it takes a significant amount of persistence to teach them the signs (at least early on).
Looking back, there are a couple of things I would have changed from the get go:
- I probably would have started closer to 9 months. I think we were asking too much of them early on when they naturally had a little amount of hand-eye coordination. As a result, we got a little burnt out because we were not seeing results early on.
- After learning some of the correct ways to sign, I wish we would have just made up many of our own signs. It would have made life much, much easier. As you can tell from the videos (below), the girls do not sign exactly correct, but they are all in the ballpark.
- I would have expanded on the number of signs we taught early on. In the beginning, we started with just “more” and “all done (eating)”. If we started a little later (#1 above), I think we could have gone in with a little broader brush stroke.
At this point, the girls are very quick learners and it only takes a day or two of repetition to teach a new sign. Kamryn initially lead the way when she learned “more”, but now Kendal is picking up on things just as fast. Being able to communicate has greatly improved our ability to interact with the girls. We hope to teach the girls many more signs in the coming months. Without further ado, let’s review some of the signs they currently know and utilize on a daily basis:
Kamryn is able to tell us when she is hungry by “signing” that she wants to eat. To do this, you just bring your hand to your mouth. Kam has her own version. Per American Sign Language, “use a squished “O” hand as if stuffing a piece of food into your mouth. (Keep your mouth closed though).”
This is a good one to start teaching the girls proper manners, and to try to avoid grunting and whining when the want something. We require them to sign “please” before getting food. Again, Kendal has her own version, but it works for us. We always know what she means. The complete proper way — “place your flat right hand over the center of your chest. Move your hand in a clockwise motion (from the observer’s point of view, use a circular motion towards your left, down, right, and back up) a few times.”
This was the first sign that both of the girls learned and the simplest in nature. It is basically like clapping your hands as Kendal shows here. Done correctly, “use flattened “O” hands. Bring both “O” hands together.”
Again, teaching the girls proper manners is very important to us. Kam briefly demonstrates “Thank you.” Note that it does not require bringing your hand back up to your face. Kamryn just likes to do this. Done properly, start with the fingers of your dominant hand near your lips. Your hand should be a “flat hand.” Move your hand forward and a bit down in the direction of the person you are thanking.
I love my dog
And then sometimes you just don’t need signs.