by Joseph Garcia
Communication is one of the first challenges babies encounter. When children begin to communicate, they attempt to arrange in their minds the world around them and begin to understand and react to situations. The child observes and experiments with life to gain knowledge and confidence. Communication plays a critical role in helping the child interact with the world and become socially engaged.
I've researched ways to help babies discover and use their inner communicative resources. Because babies have motor control over their hands long before they develop the fine motor skills required for speech, children as young as eight months can use signs to communicate. I discovered that by using signs with spoken language, parents could help empower early communication by engaging their babies in expressive and receptive communication.
My method doesn't require parents to learn an entire new language; rather it shows that even a few simple gestures can make a big difference in empowering and meeting the needs of babies. I encourage starting slowly by introducing some easy American Sign Language signs that represent simple ideas their babies can understand, like "more," "eat," and "milk." Notice I said "introduce" and not "teach." My method for using signs with pre-speech infants is designed to be gentle and loving; the process is a relaxed natural engagement.
When babies are able to replace some of the whining and crying with a few simple hand gestures, it can dramatically improve their relationships with their caregivers. Parents who use my system concur with my research that reports reduced frustration for caregivers and their babies and a stronger parent/child bond. Parents' experiences also concur with other research that shows accelerated verbal language development after using signs. By establishing reciprocal communication we empower children at a critical age. We help them awaken their understanding of life around them.
Since he began research in 1987 as part of his Masters Program at Alaska Pacific University, Joseph Garcia has been promoting using sign language with hearing infants. He has taught and lectured for 22 years at various colleges and universities and his work as principle investigator for several national research projects has helped people throughout North America. His doctoral studies in adult learning and education have helped guide the creation and delivery method of Sign With Your Baby Complete Learning System .
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