Hesperian Health Guides
Understanding groups of signs
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After using single signs, a child begins to put signs together to express complete thoughts. By learning to combine signs to express complete thoughts, a child is on the way to using a full language. Putting groups of signs together is a big step for a child. It allows him to communicate more about the objects and people around him than just their names. At first he puts 2 signs together. Then he begins to use 3 signs — and, finally, longer groups of signs. He must first understand how other people do this before he can do it himself.
How to help your child understand groups of signs
|1. When your child names an object or person, expand on what he says.||Stress the group of signs you want your child to learn and repeat it several times.|
This is a big tree. It is a very big tree!
|2. Watch for your child's response. Does he respond in any way that shows he understood? If so, praise him. If he does not respond, repeat the sign several times.|
That's right, a big tree.
|3. Use these signs as much as you can throughout the day. Encourage the whole family to use them too.||
Remember the big tree, Manop? Tell Mama about the big tree.
In this example the parents put together the name of an object ('tree') with a word that describes it ('big').
Knowing words and using a language helps a child develop his mind. When he knows words like ‘big’ and ‘small’, he can use those words to think and to express difficult ideas — like comparing one thing to another. See Chapter 7 for information about how language helps a child’s mind to develop.
To teach your child other groups of signs, try putting the name of an object or person together with:
Auntie Vijaya laugh.
- a word or sign that shows what a person or thing does.
- a word or sign that shows where an object or person is.
- a word or sign that shows wanting more, or for something to happen again.
- a word or sign that shows not wanting something, that something is all gone, or that something cannot be done.