Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hilary's Story

I recently invited the graduates of my play classes and workshops to share the stories of their communication journeys.   My hope is that by reading their stories, you might given the confidence to start signing with your own little one or the determination to keep going in those stages where it's hard to see the progress you are making. Enjoy reading these stories, and please consider sharing (or starting) your own! ~Miss Steph

Hello! My name is Hilary, and I have two kids, Jameson (3 and a half) and Coraline (15 months).

I am a mother working full time out of the home. When my husband and I first chose Signing Smart, I admit much of the draw was the opportunity to see Jameson play with and interact with other children. While he attended daycare, as a new mom, I felt like I was missing out on a lot of his growth. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet new moms, watch Jameson play, and feel really good about play being directed toward learning communication skills!

Jameson was just 7 months old when we started Signing Smart, and more than learning signs, I felt like I got a lot out of the class. In fact, at such a young age, without total immersion (which was impossible given that he attended daycare, ahem, never mind my own lax dedication), we didn't really expect him to start signing that early.

The first couple weeks were focused on my and my husband's progress, rather than Jameson's. I myself was very unfamiliar with sign language and needed to learn how to use it and also to use it in everyday interaction with Jameson. By the end of our session, I was so glad we had participated for a lot of great reasons:

• Being able to interact with other adult human beings with children.
• Seeing Jameson improve in his motor skills over the course of 10 weeks (and
  people commenting on it).
• Loved watching Jameson interact with his environment, the children, and the
   toys. He does this all day at daycare that I never got to see, so this was my
• Singing silly songs as a group without feeling embarrassed, ones that I
   continue to use today.
• Learning signs myself.
• Watching other kids grow and develop, and seeing what fun things I had to
   look forward to!

I enjoyed our time so much, and really wanted Jameson to have the opportunity to really start signing back, so we returned for a second session. By the end of our second session, Jameson was really starting to sign to help express himself.

At 16 months, he was speaking fun words (like dog, mommy and daddy) but more usefully, he was signing “more” and “all done”. He started using them for more than just meal times. He used it at bath time, while being changed, and reading. He signed “sleep”, and during bedtime as we read books he would sign (particularly with his favorite puppy book).

When Coraline was 11 months old, we decided she would benefit from sign language as well. Coraline, like Jameson, didn't sign more than a couple times during our 10 week session. She signed "fan" and "all done" a handful of times. It was tougher with a second child since we weren't able to both attend or reinforce as well at home, but we weren't discouraged, because we knew that in just a couple months time her language would explode, as would her signing.

More quickly than Jameson did, she picked up a lot of gestures like waving bye, pointing, and saying those fun words like "hi", "sock", "daddy", "dog", "woof woof". Her vocabulary is expanding rapidly at 15 months, and the signing compliments it. We recently saw and heard "open" from her! We got a kick watching her little fist open and shut as she studied it and sounded out "open" back to us.

We are working on those useful signs to express herself, because she gets frustrated and doesn't use her words like "up" when she is upset. But one of my favorite moments recently is the way she has begun trying to sing and sign back at us with the hello and goodbye song we learned at Signing Smart.

Bye bye Coraline,
Bye bye Coraline,
Bye bye Coraline,
We'll see you here next week!

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