Baby Signing - does it delay speech?
This post may be a little controversial (and I welcome your feedback) but I really don't agree with the concept of ?baby signing? which has become very fashionable these days. This is for one reason only - I genuinely think it delays children's speech development.
Years ago, when I first started Mini Ps, I spent a few minutes of each class on baby signing. After a while, I started to realise that the children who were most proficient in signing were often those who were least advanced in speaking. The crunch came when one of the Mums said to me that she'd much prefer me to be accelerating her child's speech through vocal exercises than trying to teach her child alternative means of communication. I did some more research, compared it with my own experience and dropped it from the curriculum.
The idea behind baby signing is that it helps parents to understand their needs before they can speak for themselves. So, if a baby is hungry, they make a sign for milk etc. And, in fairness, that does sound like a good idea because our control over our hands develops well before our ability to speak.
But what can happen is that children who sign become so used to using sign to express themselves that they don't feel the need to talk and therefore their speech develops much later.
Baby signers claim that you no longer need to guess if your child is hungry, hot, cold or has a wet nappy, but my experience is that most parents can tell their children's needs at that age anyway - if only by the tone of their cries.
Yesterday, one of our teachers, who is also a part time nanny for an 18 month old girl, came to speak to me. She and the parents are really concerned because the little girl doesn't have any words at all. Ultimately, children all develop at different times, so I reassured her that this wasn't a cause for concern, but my first question was ?Does she sign?? And the answer was ?Yes, really well?.
Despite our online age of texting, tweeting and emailing, speaking is still our main form of communication and we should be nurturing this from an early age. As a result, I'm not a fan of anything that delays or impairs the ability or desire to speak in children.
That said, any class that gets children together with their parents is always a good thing. I'd be really keen to hear your thoughts. And feel free to disagree!