Our family is in Australia and we are following a system known as Makaton which emphasises key signs combined with spoken words. The signs are based on the Australian sign language system, Auslan, and some of them are modified to make them easier for small hands and developing nervous systems. We learn the signs as we go along. It is pretty easy. See:
However, people should probably use the sign language common to their country and especially if there is a local, modified form used with children with disabilities.
When we don't know a sign we look it up on:
You should be able to find a similar video dictionary for your local sign language on the internet.
The reading program we use is mostly from:
We found the books, videos and flash cards all useful. You should definitely get the videos at least.
All of this early intervention work is based on the work of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential
They have some books that are well worth reading such as: "Teach Your Baby to Read" and "What to do about your Brain Injured Child"
Another group with a more modern, less expensive and less time consuming approach is the NACD. You should check them out at: http://nacd.org/
We started using sign language with Xervier from birth. We started showing him the reading videos from the age of 4 months. He made his first sign ("milk") at 13 months and read his first word (in the sense that he used a sign to show that he understood the meaning) at the age of 14 months.
My tips would be:
* Using sign language at every opportunity while keeping communication simple and consistent.
* 20-30 minutes of reading video a day if the child is interested (Xervier quickly developed an amazing ability to concentrate for long periods). The older the child is the shorter the sessions will have to be.
* Flash cards in large, bold, lower case letters atleast once a day for as long as your child is interested
* Play games with words, put labels on things in large letters, use a magnetic slate to write the names of foods at the dinner table/high chair before giving each food.
* Combine signs, written words and spoken words at every opportunity
General Signing Resources