Monday, January 18, 2010

A Nifty Idea

Someone on another forum recently brought up the subject of baby sign language. I heard about this back in college, thought, "Oh, that's interesting, I should think about that when I have kids," and then promptly forgot about it.

Baby signing is a simplified form of sign language that can be taught to babies from round the age of seven months. Babies at that age are obviously not able to produce speech. However, they are able to learn symbolic gestures and attach meanings to those gestures. What this means is that they can learn a sign for "milk", say, and then when they want some milk they can make that sign instead of just crying until you figure out what they want. How cool is that?

Some people don't like this idea, as they feel it's too pushy to consciously teach a baby anything at this age. But it's not about hothousing; you don't teach baby signing so you can boast about how educated your child is, or so you can get them into private school in a couple of years. Basically it's a way to communicate with your baby, and it's intended to make life less stressful for parents and children. People have claimed various long-term benefits for baby signing (enhanced cognitive development, stronger parent-child bonds, etc.), but to be honest, I think the short-term benefits are more than enough to make this an idea worth exploring.

I'm so glad I got reminded about this, because now I'm really excited to try it with my future kids! I will definitely be coming back to this idea when the time is right.

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