It took a few months of my consistently using a few simple signs with both Will and Owen before they began signing back to me. And at about one year of age, their interest in sign language really started to take off. (Maybe if I’d been a more diligent signer the payoff would have come sooner.)
With Will, I decided as long as we were using signs I might as well teach him the true ASL signs for everything. With Owen, I decided to cheat and use a few “baby signs” – courtesy of Linda Acredelo and Susan Goodwyn’s book by that name. Owen was soon doing a panting-tongue-hanging-out “sign” for dog and an arm-flapping sign for bird that allowed him to start signing a couple months earlier than he otherwise could have (the ASL sign for dog is a pesky leg-slapping-finger-snapping combination that I can’t imagine any under-2-year-old mastering and the ASL sign for bird requires opening and closing your thumb and forefinger in front of your nose – a more fine-motor operation than Owen’s big-armed flapping).
Other signs Owen has tried out include the ever-useful-while-eating “more,” as well as airplane, tree and cat. But his favorite sign of all is the universally understood wave (hello or bye-bye) which he likes to do for just about every person we pass in the grocery store or the preschool parking lot.
What were some of your children’s favorite signs – or your own favorite sign language books or web resources for parents?