Sign language can be a great communication tool for parents and their babies. In this episode of The Lab, DadLabs asks a few teachers if dads and moms should be teaching a baby sign language. Will sign language delay speech or can it enhance language development? If you've got thoughts or stories about sign language for kids, share them with us. Do your children use signs? Do your infants attend a day care that teaches sign language?
Male Speaker: Sign language is long been used as way to communicate with pre-verbal babies, but will it work with teenagers. More on sign language and your kids today in the lab. [Music Playing] Male Speaker: Today's episode is brought you by Baby Bjorn. You know if you carry your baby in one of this front facing carrier like this Baby Bjorn synergy, you know have there hands free to tell you that they want more. More of what, you know just have to guess. Male Speaker: Should you be teaching sign language to your baby, to find out we spoke to the master teachers at the Pricilla Pound Flawn Childhood and Family Laboratory at the University of Texas. Rachel Saunders: There is a period of time where there coordination and there growth motor abilities, so they are abilities to make big movements on much further ahead then they are fine motor skills. The vocal chords that they would use to produce sound require that fine motor ability, so they are able to understand things that people are saying to them and they could make big movements, but they can't yet produce the speech. Jennifer Bryce: Sign language isn't only for deaf kids, hearing kids can benefit from using it as well. Signs that come in handy with hearing kids are those that can reduce them at the frustration around at the sort of communication. Rachel Saunders: I think that one fear that parents have is that using signs with there child will delay their speech, because they have the ability to produce the signs with their motor skills and if they can do that and communicate their needs then why would they make the effort to speak. Using signs to support language learning has shown -- has been shown to enhance language development, so if children are understanding language earlier, even though we might say well we don't use sign with our children typically the average American, but really we do and we say yes, we shake our shake our head yes or we're saying no, we say I don't know and we shrug. Intuitively it makes sense that this wouldn't hinder language development because we use our body to support language all the time. We often have milk and water here, so we'll tell them do you want milk or would you like water. Jennifer Bryce: This is the American Sign Language for more, but twelve month old want sign this, but do some approximation just like if they were just like babbling and when you know instead of saying mommy they are Maa, you know it's their approximation until they improve. So sometimes its more, sometimes it's more, but its important to know that these signs that we're using are borrowed from American Sign language and that language is the language of the deaf community and they have a culture and we're just taking one portion of that and supporting our English. What I knew of language development is, from the very beginning we're language models to our children. So I knew that if they could see me using the signs eventually when they are able to, they could use the signs and by the time he was twelve months old, he had about twenty signs, and the most impressive to me, was he would sign Strawberry at twelve months, you know what one year old can ask for Strawberries. Rachel Saunders: We have four cats at home, so the cats are really important to my son and before he had even uttered a word so he had zero words at this point he had about four or five signs, but one of them was the sign for cats and so one morning he woke up crying and we didn't no why so we asked knowing that he couldn't tell us why, but he signed for cat, because he was looking for the cats and so we said oh! The cat, great we can get you the cat and he was immediately satisfied. Male Speaker: Well our day care thought our babies a sign and we really liked it. We thought it reduced frustration plus it was super cute. Male Speaker: Yeah, you know what this is? Male Speaker: More. Male Speaker: More freaking chereos baby, more. Male Speaker: So your -- a little demanding. Male Speaker: Yes, yes. Male Speaker: We want hear your sign language baby stories, talk to us about how you managed to teach the baby sign, was it successful, what effects did it have, you can drop a comment in this video or join us on dadlabs.com, there is forum conversation on this topic taking place there. We want to hear from you, you'll hear from us. Male Speaker: I would like to thank our sponsors Baby Bjorn, like it is certified to say for your baby, Baby Bjorn you know if your baby is forward facing they are ready to sign. [Music Playing]