Video is one of the best ways to help your family learn baby signs. In fact, in my experience as a Baby Sign Language consultant for Blossoming Little Minds, I have found that my most successful families were those who incorporate the use of video into their routines. However, it is important to follow some simple guidelines to ensure your success. While video is an extremely important part of a Baby Sign Language program, it is not meant to be the sole form of delivery. In fact, using video by itself can be detrimental to your progress as a family.
First, I recommend using videos that are aimed at children. While there are many videos on the market, most of these were created to teach parents how to sign. These videos are boring and will lose your child’s interest almost immediately. The best baby signing videos that I have come across are those from the Signing Time and Baby Signing Time Series. These videos are packed with fun, entertaining songs, animation and dancing and will have your child signing for more more more.
This next step is very important. Always watch the videos with your child! Unless you are an expert on Sign Language or extremely familiar with all the signs in the video, do not sit your child in front of a Baby Sign Language DVD and go make dinner! Your child’s brain is developing at an unwarranted pace. It is possible for your child to pick up a half dozen or more new signs in one sitting. You do not want your child to be desperately attempting to communicate her new signs and you have no idea what she is trying to say. This can be extremely frustrating and is exactly the problem we are trying to eliminate by teaching our children to sign. Besides, spending quality time with your child through this process is one of the benefits of learning Sign Language together.
Next, sit your baby or child in your lap while you are watching the videos. This will ensure that your baby is watching and she will feel supported. You will also be able to demonstrate the signs for your baby and help her form the signs if she cannot do it by herself. Additionally, you can provide valuable (and instant) feedback and positive reinforcement.
Finally, watch the videos frequently and you will be amazed at how this speeds up the process. Both you and your baby will learn signs at what seems to be lightening speed. However, do not limit yourself to the videos alone. Your child will want to communicate with signs whenever the opportunity arises and you should use every chance to sign with your baby.