Babies learn to communicate - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Babies learn to communicate

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October 19, 2005

Thomasville, Georgia-- The Thomasville Community Resource Center is hosting a sign language course for mothers and their babies. That may sound funny, but it's an initiative that reduces frustration, teaches children early on, and strengthens intimacy.

For mother Vicki Strickland, it's a learning experience. "We're learning how to communicate with our children. That way it's easier for them to communicate and let us know what they want," she says.

The class is taught through hand signals, 80 percent of which are based on the American Sign Language system. Why? Child psychologists say babies' motor skills develop faster than their verbal ones. " The process of teaching the children the signs is showing them the signs, getting their attention, being enthusiastic about it and repetition," says Dr. Michelle Macrorie.

The six course curriculum lasts about an hour each week. It's interwoven with fun, or the children lose interest. "We have lots of songs, lots of play, sensory motor activities where they get down on their hands and knees," says Macrorie.

That regimen prepares these children for when their verbal skills do eventually develop. "The babies who were at 36 months, they tested out more around the age of a 47 month old child in language development," says Macrorie.

That's still years down the road for these children. But for their mothers, the time in between won't be wasted. "It's a way for your child to tell you, express, how she feels. If she's hurting, she can tell you she's hurting," says mother, Latrice Horton. "Right now, it's more just me getting used to doing it. But he's starting to show some excitement," adds fellow mother, Jodie Craigmiles. "You don't know what they want and finally they can give feedback and let you know what they want. It boosts their intelligence," says Strickland.

Results are generally seen from eight to twelve months old. Psychologists say the classes are tailored to children up to 24 months old, but they encourage sign language at any age.

For more information, call the Thomasville Community Resource Center at 229-226-5846.

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