You can see the brain wheels turning as older babies and toddlers try to communicate… as they try to tell an older sibling or adult what they need or want. You can also see the dazed look on the parent’s face as they try so hard to understand. Amazingly, older siblings can be impressive interpreters. But they are not always available. When others don’t understand, it can become very frustrating for the child, leading to emotional meltdowns – no matter how hard the parent is trying to guess their meaning.
Baby Sign Language has been around for awhile in many different forms. Indeed, for hearing babies and toddlers that have no developmental issues, sign language provides an option for a peaceful way to communicate their needs and wants.
Kindermusik International teamed up with Signing Smart, who put a lot of research into the best methods for parents to use to help set up positive situations in which their child WANTS to use signs to communicate. And they established methods for helping children. The result is Kindermusik Sign and Sing, specifically designed for children from 6 – 36 months along with a parent or significant care provider (a grandparent, aunt, or even a nanny).
THIS is different approach from other sign language programs for babies. Through songs, toys, and loving playtime between you and your child, Kindermusik Sign & Sing demonstrates the FOUR Keys to Signing Smart. Parents learn when and how to use and encourage sign language during important parts of the child’s daily routine.
Learn when you play. Parents do not have to memorize a list of signs. Babies are not asked to make a specific sign when a word is called out. This system encourages using signs that reflect the typical patterns of conversation between a parent and child. The home materials provide more than 50 signs on flashcards and on DVD (for the adult’s reference). But parents CHOOSE a few signs to focus on that are most likely to fit into a child’s day and interests. So playtime and everyday items around the house; ball, bubbles, mom and dad become the objects of learning in the classroom, and sign language becomes a natural, happy part of a family’s day.
Children start to understand language WAY before they have the ability to use it. And children are multi-sensory learners. When a word is used in combination with a sign, the child is able to hear and see what the parent is trying to communicate, enabling them to understand the meaning of the word more quickly. If a tangible object is also available, it can provide the sense of touch as well. For example, a parent says the word “ball”, while signing the word, then hands the child a “ball”, and plays with them joyfully for a few moments (adding a positive emotional element), it stimulates MORE areas of the brain to develop a neural pathway to connect object to the word and sign. Although a child may not yet be able SAY the word “ball” yet, they are likely to understand it, and use sign language to initiate playing with the ball. And they are more likely to start to say the word “ball” earlier in their development.
Hearing children who know signs learn language almost twice as fast. Check out these statistics from this Study conducted by Dr. Michelle Anthony and Dr. Reyna Lindert, Signing Smart program founders:
Compared to developmental norms, Signing Smart children have enriched language and communication skills:
- While the average 8 month old will have no spoken words, the average Signing Smart child will have 5 signs and 1 word.
- While the average 12 month old will have 3-5 spoken words, the average Signing Smart child will have 25 signs and 16 words
- At 18 months, the average child will have 10-50 spoken words. In contrast, the average Signing Smart child will have 79 signs and 105 words.
- In addition, a majority of Signing Smart children begin combining signs and words or signs and signs together to form little sentences at 11-14 months. Compare this to non-signers, who do not begin to combine words into short sentences (e.g., “Da-da car”) until 20 months old on average!
These results indicate that ASL signs, used in combination with Signing Smart strategies, facilitate both overall communicative abilities as well as spoken language skills in hearing infants and toddlers.
Songs and fingerplays. Parents already accustomed to fingerplays and rhyme-songs, such as “If You’re Happy” and “Old Macdonald”, begin to easily include American Sign Language (ASL) signs in familiar songs, improving your child’s language skills, fine motor skills, and strengthen fingers for zipping zippers and using scissors. There are a few songs like this in Unit 1, but Unit 2 specializes in these activities !
There are Free Demo classes on Oct. 3 at 5:30 pm. (Monday Evenings), or Oct. 4 at 10:30 am. (Tuesday Mornings) at InTune Studios, 1037 S. Florida Ave. Suite 125 in Lakeland.
Starting Oct. 10 – 11, we will be offering the full Sign & Sing: Unit 1 semester. This is a 5 week program that offers initial training and opportunities to begin using American Sign Language with your child using the Four Keys to Signing Smart.
In January, we are planning to offer Unit 2. This follow-up session to the first introduces more signs using animals and toys as a learning theme, and delves into a deeper understanding of the Four Keys to Signing Smart introduced during Unit 1. With a special focus on helping children understand signs used in different contexts, the Home Materials include a children’s DVD called The Treasure Chest: Signs, Songs, and Rhymes, and features mini-music videos of children singing well-loved songs using the signs, as well as showing the printed word across the bottom of the screen—giving children multiple ways to learn the words, the sign, and the language. It is important to complete Unit 1 before participating in Unit 2.
Please link to my website to enroll for the Demo classes !
Or, to SAVE YOUR SPACE in class, Enroll now for the Sign and Sing Unit 1 Semester !
Do you use sign language with your baby? If yes, what success have you experienced? What would you recommend for families just starting the process?