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Adding another language? Am I crazy?

October 9, 2009

If you read the post a few days ago, Change is Brewing, you might be sure I am about to write about teaching my daughter French. But you’re wrong! HA! I’m not going to write about that. Not now, anyway….

Nope. But I am going to write about teaching her another language: American Sign Language.

Why? you might ask as you shake your head in judgement over me for over-stimulating my child. But don’t judge yet! Not until you read about the reasoning behind my decision. (I say my desicion because Principe participated about as much as a moth would have in the “discussion” about it. He basically shrugged his shoulders and went on to tell me who plays who in the soccer match tonight.)

It all started a few days ago. We were trying to get Queenie to let us stay in bed a bit longer so I turned on Baby Einstein on the portable DVD player in bed. I turned on her favorite video at the moment: Baby Wordsworth First Words Around the House. It actually has a lady signing the words that they are teaching the kids, along with a little girl that signs the same words during the “review”. Queenie has seen this video probably about 15-20 times now, but the other day was when I noticed her trying to move her hands along with the lady and the little girl. Then at playgroup I noticed her pointing something to me and moving her hands about. It wasn’t until Tuesday, when she decided she wasn’t going to take a nap so I placed her in my bed with the same video so I could lie down (don’t judge me on the amount of TV she watches, we cut out cartoons in the morning!) and I noticed again she was trying to sign. And suddenly I noticed that during playgroup she had perfect signed “ball” to me while pointing out the ball! I was shocked! I was intrigued. I was so PROUD!

I started paying attention to the video and repeated the signs with her so that I could start memorizing them. And yesterday at play group she again signed to me “cup” and “ball” and “tree”! Today, while reading books she signed “tree” and “swing”! I couldn’t believe it! So we sat down with her puzzle pieces and put together the words that I could remember the signs to. Some of them she knew right away, some of them she had to watch me for, but every time she tried to make the sign! Then she pointed to the window and signed and pointed to the trees outside and signed.

I am so excited. Can you tell?

You may be asking why I am so excited, so I’ll tell you: this is a perfect solution to our communication problems. It seems she is a bit behind on speaking. We thought it was perfectly normal, which it can be since all kids decide to talk when they want to and not according to a book or chart, but there are many kids in her playgroup who are bilingual and the same age or younger and who use more vocabulary and speak clearer than Queenie. As you know, this has been a point of frustration for her since not even I understand what she is saying half the time. She says a lot of babble, but not much in the way of something we can understand. So many tantrums could have been avoided if we only understood her secret code language.

Enter Sign Language. The perfect solution! I was doing some research today and read some really great things about teaching your baby and toddler sign language. They can actually learn it well before speaking (youtube is a testament to the many 10 months out there who can sign “milk” or “juice”. It’s really incredible). Learning sign language doesn’t inhibit them learning to speak, as speaking (for hearing babies) is a natural instinct, but it does help them communicate when they are in the stage of learning to speak. Plus, it helps them learn to read quicker and spell since many words don’t have a sign and are spelle using the Sign Language alpahbet. There are quite a few charts and videos to help us get started. I decided to go with American Sign Language and not the Spanish, since I am the one who will be teaching her. Maybe some day we will learn Spanish Sign Language, but not right now.

So, my mission for this afternoon is to print out the charts I found and to practice showing her new signs I learned while she was napping. The first thing I would like to conquer is food and drink, since I think that is a main frustration point for her. Then we will go on to hand-washing (we had a melt down the other day because I didn’t understand she wanted to wash her hands) and some other words like “stroller” and “diaper”. I’ll keep you up to date on how it goes, but I’m pretty excited. I wanted to learn Sign Language as a teenager but the class I signed up for go cancelled. Then I moved on to other things and forgot about it. Now that I have another reason to learn, I feel as giddy as I did when I was thirteen! Yea!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2009 3:54 pm

    Get your hands on some Signing Time or Baby Signing Time videos depending on how old Queenie is. They are fantastic. Our girls love them.

    We have some that we own but we get a lot from the library too.

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      October 14, 2009 12:20 pm

      I heard that Signing Time was great. Problem is we live in Madrid, so getting our hands on some American videos is challenging. My mother comes to visit in December so I will probably have her bring some videos along. Do you sign for fun or as a way to communicate? Did you or your wife know any sign language before you started?

  2. October 9, 2009 6:50 pm

    I’m so glad you and your daughter have happened upon this as a solution for communicating. My first daughter spoke very clearly, very early, so I was baffled about the whole “terrible twos” since she wasn’t frustrated at all – she could say exactly what she was thinking. Then #2 came along and I found out exactly how frustrating it is for a 2 year old to not be able to clearly communicate. Queenie will pick up on your excitement as you do this together and you’ll both love it!

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      October 14, 2009 12:17 pm

      I think so too! she seems to be more interested in learning it from the videos than from me, but we are working on it and she is so proud of herself for knowing the signs to things!

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