Sharing Your Knowledge with Others
As you become more and more familiar with baby sign language, you will have opportunities to share your knowledge with others. People will begin to ask you about your signing experiences, and many will want recommendations for materials or methods. If you are the only signing parent in your child’s playgroup or day-care class, you may be asked to consider demonstrating baby sign language to the rest of the parents and children.
Likewise, some signing parents are making a business out of signing. They are holding baby-sign classes in homes, community centers, and churches. Some signing parents are affiliated with a baby sign-language program, and some work independently. If you decide to teach baby sign in any capacity, there are some things to keep in mind.Certification and Training
Do you need special training or certification to teach baby sign language? Yes and no. You certainly want to be familiar enough with the practice of baby sign language if you are going to share your knowledge with others. For this reason, it is a good idea to take a class on the subject. This not only gives you additional training, it also gives you the opportunity to watch another teacher in action.
Colleges all over the nation offer courses in American Sign Language. The courses can be taken as part of a degree program or individually for continuing education credits. While these classes generally do not focus on sign language for babies, they will give you a solid introduction to the language.
As for certification, there are companies out there that will “certify” you to teach baby sign. All you have to do is pay a fee, and they will send you teaching materials. While the materials themselves may be helpful if you are teaching a group of parents and babies, the certification is often meaningless. This is not to say that there aren’t legitimate programs out there. On the contrary, there are excellent programs available that will actually train you to be a baby sign-language instructor. Just remember that any certification you are given simply for paying a fee probably isn’t worth much.Understanding Your Students
Whether you are teaching sign language to the babies in your playgroup or are considering teaching baby sign language as your new part-time job, one element will remain the same: your clients. As a baby sign-language instructor, whether for fun or profit, your students will all be babies and toddlers. Because it has probably been quite a while since your own toddler-hood, it is a good idea to learn a thing or two about these small creatures.
Having a baby of your own is great practice, of course, but all babies are different. To develop a greater understanding of babies, toddlers, and how they communicate, consider taking a course in early childhood development, or pick up some books on the subject. Learn about typical growth and development of babies and toddlers, and try to gain some insight into their behavior patterns. The better you understand your students, the more likely they are to understand your signs.