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Gurgling Tots Trained in Sign Language

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Babies who have mastered gurgling, but can’t quite handle words yet can learn a baby version of sign language to tell mom and dad whether they want to eat, play or be lulled into sweet sleep.

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“Przepraszam” (excuse me), “sprzatamy” (cleaning up) ou “kurczaczek” (chick), are practical words to know but impossible to pronounce for one-year-olds, even if they are Polish.

“Babies aren’t ready to speak. In order to utter words you need teeth,” Danuta Mikulska, 31, a linguist specializing in sign language said.

“Their muscles and vocal chords are insufficiently developed, but they are able to make hand gestures.”
At nine months, Mateusz has already mastered a few signs: suck, balloon and music, light. “He understands twenty-or-so more,” says his mum, Agnieszka Nec, 25.

When eight-month-old Adam wants something he spells it out with his hands. “It’s with gestures that he tells me he wants a song or to be rocked when he’s going to sleep,” says mom, Karolina Olszewska, a journalist.

Along with eight other babies and their mums, none of whom have hearing problems; Mateusz and Adam learn sign language at Warsaw‘s Klub Koko, created by three women, academics and artists: Danuta Mikulska, Magdalena Jakubowska and Joanna Kolodziejska. During a series of hour-long lessons, instructors create a world of play for babies and moms focused on songs, poems and exercises in which words are systematically reinforced by their equivalent hand signs.

According to Klub Koko, the method first created in the US in the 1980s reinforces contacts between mother and child, stimulates the intellectual and sensory-motor development of babies as well as their imagination, memory and concentration.

It reduces tears, tantrums and frustration in tots, who, try as they might, cannot get their message across verbally, instructors say. It also helps toddlers master the ability to speak, read, write and count more rapidly.

Sources: The Times Of India

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