Sign language for toddlers

Attached are a few resources to learn some early signs with your toddler.  When teaching signs, I always begin teaching the following signs first and then building up from here.  These specific signs can be found on the PDF document attached below: “Hi”, “Bye”, “More”, “Done”, “Me”, “Help”, “Open”, “Eat”, “Stop”, “Play”, “Jump”, “Go”.  I might begin first by choosing 1-2 target signs to focus on in the initial session.  From here, I will consistently model and demonstrate the sign paired with the verbalization of the sign while engaging in play based tasks.  My expressions and motor movements will likely be dramatic and aim to excite and engage the toddler with my actions.  Once I am engaged in a motivating, preferred play activity with the toddler, I will begin to place demands.  For instance, I will hold a box lid closed and wait for the toddler to request help in some way (grabbing hand, hitting box, etc) and model a sign “open” or “help”.  I will try to have the child imitate this sign if able.  If they are struggling to imitate I will then hold their hands and demonstrate the intended sign with their hands and then give them the suggested result (i.e. opening the box).  I would repeat this multiple times in various situations throughout the session until they begin to imitate.   The next step would be to verbalize the sign (i.e. help/open) and see if they can independently utilize the sign in a specific context.  The ultimate goal would be to then withhold the object (in this case a closed box) and wait until the child requests “open” or “help” independently without support.  It might be that the child begins to become independent with the target sign, but inconsistently needs support. This is okay! You can scaffold back to previous steps during the process to continue the learning process and promote language growth.

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