Although when we think about the word nourishment we think of food, it is really about one’s entire well-being. Here is one online definition “The substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.”
Our actions and our words are another form of nourishment. Specifically, signing will nourish a child’s brain. Research shows children who signed as a baby tend to have higher IQs, have a higher aptitude for learning, and excel in communication. Because this visual language is so easy to learn, children are excited to learn, when they are excited to learn they then want to learn more. Building up one’s confidence in learning empowers a child to communicate well, try new things and leaves them with a feeling of fulfillment.
Books are another great way to nourish a baby’s brain, so why not sign as you read to your little one? The following tips can be applied to reading and signing, coupled together you’ll feed your baby’s hungry brain.
1. Repetition. Children benefit from reading the same book again and again as they become familiar with sequencing, they love being able to predict what comes next in the story and being correct. Signing a word over and over again helps a baby pick up the meaning of the sign, much the way we repeat words when using parantese with babies (the high pitched sing song repetition of words caregivers use when speaking to babies).
2. Establish a routine. Reading a book before bed or naptime is a great way for a baby to wind down. Once you’ve begun signing in the context of reading books, or any other situation, continue to do so and your child will pick the signs up quickly.
3. Make it fun. If your toddler wants to flip through the pages quickly to find their favorite page, go ahead and spend time talking about what interests them most. Try signing when you’re laughing and playing, your baby takes note of what you’re doing and is encouraged to chime in.
4. Encourage participation. Pointing, page turning, and talking about the book, not just the written words are all great ways for a baby to begin the lifelong love of reading. Asking your baby to show you the sign is great practice to build up to initiating conversation.
5. Be creative. When you find new ways to tell the same story it not only keeps your child engaged, it keeps you engaged as well. A novel game is one of the greatest signing opportunities. One of our favorites is This Little Piggy, signing pig each time you wiggle each little toe, and of course making a great pig snort or squeal!