Teaching sign language to children, regardless of hearing ability, has become very popular among parents eager to communicate with their little ones even before they are able to say their first word. We already use many American Sign Language signs in our everyday gesticulating, so it can be very simple to start learning (and teaching) sign language to little ones.
And, it doesn't take long for a baby to pick up a new sign. Only a few weeks after incorporating a sign language component into the babytime program at Himmel Park Library, I saw one of the babies sign back to her grandmother: "Stop." Her grandmother and I were talking too long, apparently, and she was ready to go. Whatever the sign, it is incredible to see. As a result of that grandmother's patience and consistency in signing while speaking, her granddaughter was able to effectively express herself (without crying!).
Pima County Public Library has a multitude of sign language resources for children and adults. My new trusted resource for baby sign language is Baby Sign Language Basics by Monta Z. Briant, which has simple sign pictures that are easy to learn, as well as an instructional DVD for the more complicated movements. Do keep in mind that baby sign language does not always use ASL signs, as it is often necessary to simplify signs for little, uncoordinated hands.
We also have picture books that include signing alongside the illustrations. Even more, we'll be having a few signing programs at libraries around town, including sign and storytimes (just visit our calendar and search for "sign with baby").
I'll leave you with a storytime favorite, this time with a signing twist:
The more we sign together, together, together
The more we sign together, the happier we'll be
For your friends are my friends
And my friends are your friends
The more we sign together, the happier we'll be!
Now, you'll have to check out the book to find out what the signs are!