Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why Does Signing Smart Get a Place in my Family?

Long before my first son was born, I knew I would sign with my children.  As a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter, it seemed a no-brainer.  We would be spending time with Deaf people, and they would need to be able to communicate.

When I was pregnant, and as a brand-new mommy, though, putting my wishes into practice seemed harder than they should be.  I knew the language, but how would I teach this precious new being a 2nd language before he learned his first?!

I started doing a little research.  I knew that teaching hearing babies to sign was becoming more and more popular, and I hoped that I would find a class in my area.  At first, I was incredibly discouraged.  My biggest requirement in a program was that it used 100% real ASL, and many programs didn't.  They used silly made up gestures that I couldn't imagine being able to distinguish in every-day life - "sniffing" to mean flower - and there weren't any classes offered near me anyway.  After a few weeks of digging I did come up with a short list of programs that existed SOMEWHERE using real ASL.  Then, after talking with a few other new moms I knew, I decided I would just have to take the jump and make things happen myself.  I joined Signing Smart as a licensed instructor and started planning for my first class.

As I spend more and more time teaching infants and toddlers to sign, and telling people about Signing Smart, I fall in love with the program over and over again.  Yes, it met that original requirement, it uses 100% real ASL signs, but it's so much more.  The developers of the program, Drs. Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert, used their developmental psychology backgrounds to create a program that is firmly grounded in what infants and toddlers are doing and how they best learn- play.  It gave me a few basic strategies to adjust what I was already doing as a mom.  And, most importantly, it worked!  At less than 8 months old, my son was telling us when he wanted MORE, when he was ALL-DONE, and was even starting to label MOMMY and DADDY. At 10 months, he was telling us when he was tired and wanted to go to BED, asked to see his favorite singing LION, and pointed out every FAN he came across.  At just over 1 year, he used over 25 signs and half a dozen spoken words.  Now, at nearly two and a half, he consistently uses 4 and 5 word sentences to express himself!  My husband and I are also loving watch our big boy teach his little brother signs.

I'm so proud that my boys are learning to communicate with those around them.  I enjoy having an even deeper connection with them than I would if we didn't use the Signing Smart program.  I'm honored when I get to share these great things with other families, and I adore watching them grow and change and learn together while we play and sing and have a good time!

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