We’ve been signing with Belle since she was about 5 months old – inconsistently at best, and without anything like the native fluency in American Sign Language that would be found in the deaf community. Nonetheless, Belle continues to surprise us with signs we didn’t realize she knew. Funny isn’t it, that a child can understand a visual language before she can produce it, just like a spoken language?
Truthfully, it’s not so surprising. Language in any format lights up the same areas in a healthy brain!
One of the first signs Belle produced was more – and she didn’t verbalize it the same time. It’s not precisely the ASL sign, but much like her verbal “more” is an approximation of an adult’s, her sign for more is similarly approximate. It started as fists coming together and has gained quite a bit of clarity as she’s aged.
In the kitchen, more is a super common sign. Most frequently used for scooping and cracking eggs – two preferred activities – more also is the answer to questions about whether the cookie sheet is ready to come out of the oven and if our serving sizes are big enough. Functionally, it’s the go/continue/more/yes in most “A or B” choices that have a positive/negative cast.
Since it’s such a reliable sign, I can use it to my advantage. If Belle isn’t paying attention and starting to reach for potentially dangerous things (the knife block, the stand mixer, the oven, anything just slightly out of reach to the side while standing on a chair), I can stop everything (pick her up) and ask if we should keep going. Since baking is a preferred activity: More!
If she’s repeating something unintelligible and getting frustrated, I can create a question with more as a possible response. “Did we add enough sugar?” “Is it mixed enough?” This allows me to understand her (because she either signs more or doesn’t) and diverts her attention from the breakdown in communication.
Even just seeing the increased precision in her signing is proof of improved fine motor skills!
Wondering how else we use ASL in the kitchen? I’ll be back with more signs as I catch them on camera!