Signs As Conversation Starters ~ Chris

I remember when my little boy was signing proficiently.  Around his 15-16 month mark he had achieved his 100th sign.  From a baby’s perspective, he could talk about just about anything that interested him.  His world was a tapestry of TRUCKS, BUTTERFLIES, BIRDS, PLAINES, HELICOPTERS, SQUIRRELS, TOILETS (ha), MILK, WATER, CEREAL and on and on and on!

His vocabulary allowed him to become a mater conversationalist.  He’d point out all of the things he knew about whenever he saw fit.  He’d come to us asking to see various images on the computer or in his books.  He’d intently listen for planes flying overhead of the weekly garbage truck coming for his pick-up.  It was amazing to see just how “verbal” he was.  It was never a mystery what he wanted to talk about or know about.  I’d even shown him the sign for FIRE.  We practiced blowing out candles for days.  He’d sign and motion to the cupboard where we kept the (childproof) lighter.  Together we would sign HOT, and keep our hands away.  Like every 1 and 2 year-old at their birthday party, we’d practice blowing the candles out.  I guess, I’m a unique parent, in that I want him to learn to master his world.  Knowledge about dangers that lurk are no exception.

With time, he’d bore of that and would no longer bring it up.  It was on to the next thing.  At one point he was all over OWL’s.  Oddly enough, his interest in things always seemed to peak right around the time he learned how to make the signs!  Perhaps this is why signing babies are so far advanced.  Maybe labeling objects puts them to a category or box in their minds allowing them to add more features in association.  Either way, he’d do the signs to learn more and talk more about them.  He’d find owls in his books or look for owl videos on the computer with me.  Learning the signs for things meant that my son was a valued member of the family who had an equal say in which topics were to be discussed.  He even went through a phase when he’d get upset if mom and dad talked to each other.  He’d bark out to us!

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