Jump-start your child's verbal skills with Baby Sign Language

Baby Sign Language gives children the opportunity to communicate long before they can verbalize their wants and needs.  Research studies show that signing with babies accelerates language acquisition, reduces frustration, enhances a child's self esteem, and deepens the bond between parent and child.

This intro workshop introduces more than 20 signs that are based on American Sign Language (ASL). It is designed for expectant parents and parents with babies ranging in age from birth to 18 months. You will learn about the latest research and all the tools to teach your baby to sign.  Fun activities and songs will show you how easy it can be to integrate simple signs into your everyday routine to jump-start your child’s verbal skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does signing hinder verbal language development?
Some parents are concerned that teaching their baby sign language will delay their baby's speech acquisition.  More than thirty years of evidence research shows that the opposite is actually true.  Studies show that babies who sign develop verbal language skills earlier than their peers, and have a comparatively larger verbal vocabulary.

When should I start signing with my baby? 
Six to eight months of age is generally considered an optimal time to start signing with your baby, since before they’re six months old, babies have very little long-term memory to retain the signs they see.  Younger babies also lack the motor skills and hand-eye coordination required to make very precise gestures, so parents may miss their babies’ early signing attempts, perceiving them as random gestures.  

Once babies reach six months of age, however, memory retention increases rapidly.  If you start signing to them when they're between six and seven months of age, for example, you can reasonably expect them to sign back when they’re between eight and ten months old.  Older babies and toddlers will generally catch on much more quickly because they’re reaching the stage in their development where they begin to imitate, and when they attempt to use gestures to communicate.  They may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to sign back.

Having said this, there is no harm in starting to sign as early as you like.  It’s worthwhile to note that deaf parents sign to their babies from birth, and their babies generally sign back significantly earlier than babies in hearing families do.

Do I need to bring my baby to the Baby Sign Language classes?
Babies are welcome in class, or parents may come on their own, since babies will do the bulk of their learning through being exposed to signs by their caregivers in their daily routines rather than in a class once a week, just like with spoken language.  We call the series of classes "playgroups" because it's the grown-ups that are playing, having fun growing their vocabulary and confidence, using the signs with interactive games and songs.  Many of the younger babies sleep through class or are nursing.  So for the baby sign language classes, the babies are just along for the ride.  If you have really mobile toddler you might prefer our VaVoom! series for toddlers.  

May I bring my older, active toddler or a sibling to the Baby Sign Language classes?
If you have an active toddler you might consider attending without him or her so that you can focus and get the most out of each class.  If you do bring your toddler, have some things to keep your child occupied and happy, like a few favorite toys, snacks and drink.  Older siblings are welcome if there is enough room in the class and if the children are at the age that they would enjoy the class.