Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Child Has Difficulty with Handshapes of Sign Language

Kristine, a Smart Baby Sign Language reader, asked:

My son does not seem to be able to use his fingers very dextrously yet. He is 14 months but I hear about these babies signing at 7 or 8 months. He has a hard time with any signs that involve more than a pointing finger, an open hand, or a fist. So my question is, is that normal, and how can I help him refine his fingers? He can't differentiate between many signs because of this limitation...
Don't worry if your child can't make the exact handshape yet. He is still young and doesn't have the physical dexterity. As your baby grows his sign movements and handshapes will become more precise. For now, when your child signs PLAY, it may look like two twisting fists instead of of twisting Ys. Eventually, your child will be able to extend his thumbs and then the pinky fingers to make the Y handshape.

My daughter began to become very interested in putting her fingers in the right position around the time she turned two. She'll pry her fingers into place with her other hand. It's funny when they pop right back to where they were originally. But she's improving and she's really enjoying it. When she masters a handshape or another letter of the manual alphabet, she gets excited and cheers for her accomplishment.

When I started baby sign language with her, I had no idea how many opportunities it would give her to develop perserverence and experience a sense of accomplishment. I hope she is also learning to avoid her mother's perfectionist tendencies. Her dad and I help her make the sign, but we laugh with her about her fingers' inability to cooperate. Now, when she struggles, she'll say, "Tricky!" and laugh or ask for my help. And isn't that how we should handle our attempts to master new things?


hollydlr September 18, 2008 at 10:42 PM  

I love it! You are so right! And that is exactly what my son does when he signs play! Thanks!

Holly Tried It September 22, 2008 at 10:00 PM  


As different as kids are, they are so much alike.

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