Sibling Signing

So many people think when they hear “Baby sign language”, that this is something which I can use with my pre-verbal baby to assist with communication.  Baby sign language is a tool that can be incorporated into your home and used with both your young pre-verbal baby but also with their older siblings.

Children of all ages love to use their hands to communicate.  This can be seen when children sing “Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes” and they do the actions by pointing at the various body parts.  Lots of nursery rhymes such as “Incy Wincy Spider” allow children to be expressive with their hands while being verbal.  This is why children of all ages LOVE baby sign language.

So what is the benefit of introducing baby sign language to the older brothers and sisters of your pre-verbal baby, who are either partially or fully verbal?  Dr Marilyn Daniels, a professor of communication arts and sciences at Penn State University, is an authority of studying the benefits of teaching sign language to children in preschool through to sixth grade. She encourages hearing children to become full participants in language and communication with their family and peers at a young age through the use of sign language.

Children in Dr Daniels studies were found to have benefited from signing in the following ways:
•    Improved their English vocabulary
•    Improved understanding of concepts
•    Number, letter & sound recognition
•    Reading readiness
•    Better spelling ability by teaching children to read using sign language.

Children are quick to pick up sign language and they can be helpful as you begin to introduce it to your pre-verbal baby.  I get many emails from the older brothers and sisters of pre-verbal children who know all 60 signs in the Australian Baby Hands book and are requesting to learn more signs so they can introduce it in their “news” story at school the next week or to their family or siblings.  Some children look on it as their own secret language that not everyone knows but it enables them to speak to their younger pre-verbal siblings.

So not only will baby sign language be fun with all the family involved, it will be beneficial for your baby as more people are signing to them and it will be easier and faster for them to make the connection of what is it you are trying to communicate. It is also a fantastic educational tool for all your children, your baby and their older brothers and sisters, assisting with their language, vocabulary, reading and spelling ability.

Start Sibling signing today!

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2 Responses to “Sibling Signing”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Hi Jackie, it has certainly been fun for us to have two young signers in the house. Ursula is now 23 months, Xavier is 3 3/4. They both love learning signs, and trying to perfect them, obviously easier for the older one, but both seem to think it is excellent fun to sit with me or their dad going through the alphabet or signing about pictures in a book. Even the little one is keen to learn to sign the alphabet.

    I love how they learn by watching and also by having their hands moved and shaped – much easier than teaching them to make particular sounds. And it is all reinforced as they see each other learning. I also love how Xavier can make a sign like aeroplane or walk be so expressive, telling a whole story.

    I have recently noticed that they also tend to sign when their mouths are full. (I wonder if I do that too.)

    I would love to give them the experience of getting to know people who sign all the time, members of the Deaf community. Do you have any suggestions?


  2. JackieDurnin Says:

    Hi Jennifer

    Great to hear from you 🙂

    If you would like to get more actively involved within the Deaf community then you could try contacting Deaf Children Australia.

    They list a number of activities within their site for POD, Parents of Deaf and also have message boards where you may find local groups.

    Happy Signing


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