Sign modeling is the primary method that you and most parents will use to teach their baby to sign. As you will learn, some babies will permit their hands to be manipulated into doing the signs, but many will not. Modeling is a hands-off approach to teaching signs by simply doing the signs yourself so that your baby can see it. After modeling the sign enough times for your baby, they will eventually pick it up and do the signs themselves. Modeling relies on imitation as the primary method of learning. Babies are excellent at both observing other people and copying them, as you will learn soon enough! [Above: A toddler signing ELEPHANT at the zoo].
We will get into the rules of signing more and more throughout the book, suffice it to say that repetition is the key to sign modeling and that signing parents must do the sign each time they say the word for the technique to work. If your baby sees you cheat out on a sign preferring to say the words instead, they’ll take similar shortcuts. You might be left wondering why your baby is inconsistent with their signs, picks things up slowly or tries to say the words instead. This is why your lead is so important!