A Language Explosion

Over the last several months, Alexis’ verbal skills have just, well, exploded. She went from a baby who could say “kitty!” to a toddler who could name all sorts of things and repeat almost anything she heard. Watching a little one learn her language is so much fun. I love seeing which words are important enough to her to be said, and hearing how she pronounces each one. “Belbows” is one of my favorites right now.

At the same time her spoken language started developing so rapidly, Alexis also began learning sign language. I know she looked forward to each weekly sign language class, because starting on Monday, she would begin asking, “Bubbles? Froggie?” in anticipation of Thursday’s class. Her favorite parts of class are when the teacher blows bubbles for everyone to pop, and the end, when she gets a froggie stamp on her hand. She gives her froggie stamp a kiss, gets green ink on her mouth, and shows her hand to anyone who will look.

For nerdy purposes, I made a chart after her last sign language class in December showing the number of words and the number of signs she had mastered each month. Sign language started the last day of October, and you can see that both her spoken and signed words increased a lot at that point.

Language Acquisition

I don’t know if exposure to sign language had any effect on her spoken language development, since correlation does not imply causation. But it does appear clear that sign language did not slow her acquisition of spoken words, which is something I’ve heard people worry about before. Anecdotally, I can say that every time Alexis learned a new sign, she learned to say the corresponding word, too. So in that sense, I saw sign language helping her to learn new spoken words, too.

We just started the Sign and Play Level 2 class today, and Alexis was so happy to be back after several weeks. This picture is blurry, because my phone has a crummy camera, but look how happy my girl is! Travel has made her extra clingy recently, but she had no qualms about leaving me to go dance by her teacher.

I really can’t say enough good things about sign language class. I love watching how much Alexis enjoys it, and we both enjoy learning a new way to communicate. Class has given us ways to communicate about things like potty learning and travel, both of which have made life a little easier. Alexis gets less frustrated when she is able to express her needs in sign and be understood, and when I’m able to explain things to her in another way. Sometimes, when she has trouble listening to what I’m saying, she is able to focus on signing instead. And really, it’s just a lovely way to stay connected. We recently took a long trip away from daddy to visit grandparents. On our last night away from home, Alexis and I talked and signed about how tomorrow we would take an “airplane” to “go home” to see “daddy.” As she nursed to sleep, she signed “home, home” over and over. How sweet is that?

{Alexis takes Sign and Play classes from Communication Junction. If you’re local, I can’t recommend them highly enough.}

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