Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Focus on Sign Language: More

Recently I did a beginning post on sign language that you can find it here. I thought I would devote some posts to specific signs with some suggestions on learning and using the sign with your preemie.

Today's post is focused on the sign for "more." Asking for more can be used throughout the day - especially during meals or playtime. This site has a great photo of the sign to get you started.

Introducing the sign:

  • Once your preemie has some hand eye coordination (doing things like waving, pointing, clapping, etc) and is starting to understand the concept of asking for something (or saying no to something), it is a good time to encourage him/her to sign.
  • Start introducing the sign by saying the word as you make the sign. I've found it useful if I put emphasis on the word you are signing (i.e. Do you want MORE?) so that my preemie knows which word I'm signing.
  • Spend a few days using the word and sign whenever possible. Put your hands where your preemie can see them so that he/she can really notice what you are doing. If you have older children, encourage them to do the sign as well (with lots of praising when they do).
  • Once you have shown your preemie the sign a number of times, show him/her how to do it. The sign for "more" is a great one to start with because you can easily put your hands over his/hers and form his/her hands into the sign. As you help your preemie make the sign, say the word so that he/she again associates the sign with the word.
  • After you have taught your preemie how to make the sign, encourage him/her to make the sign every time the word is used. Help him/her make the sign for the first few times as it will take time to remember how to do it. Once you feel like your preemie has the idea, start expecting him/her to make the sign. In the beginning, any small gesture that looks like a purposeful attempt to make the sign should be praised and treated as if he/she did the whole sign.

Good activities to use the sign "more"

Mealtime - give your preemie a small amount of food. Once he/she has finished, ask "Do you want more?" and sign "more." Wait for your preemie to sign (or at least try to) more before giving more of the food. If you are spoon feeding your preemie, ask if he/she wants more between bites.

Playtime - A great way to encourage using more is to play with a toy that has multiple parts or various things to do so that your preemie needs to sign more if he/she wants to continue playing. Good activities are blocks, mega blocks, parts to a toy (like Mr. Potato Head), toys with buttons that play songs or flash lights, etc. Another great activity is blowing bubbles. After you blow some bubbles, stop and ask your preemie if he/she wants more. Wait for the sign before blowing more bubbles. When your preemie is done playing with one toy and indicating that he/she wants something else, ask "Do you want "more" toys?. Wait for him/her to sign back before offering a new toy.

Over time you will notice your preemie doing the sign automatically. Remember in the beginning that any effort or indication to make the sign should be praised and rewarded (as if he/she had done the entire sign).

Don't forget to take it slow. Just like any other skill, your preemie will need time to figure out how to do it, when to do it and what is expected of him/her.

The next sign will be all done.

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