Thursday, January 15, 2015

Perceiving Preview Class

There are always quite a number of mixed emotions as I approach a preview class. 

First and foremost, I'm excited.  I love sharing my passion for early communication with families!  I enjoy picking out lots of fun toys and props to bring along, and like to choose the songs and activities I think will be greatly enjoyed by everyone.

I'm also thankful.  I treasure the hosting family or facility for offering their space to me and the other participating families.  It's always a little bit of extra work to get ready for visitors, and I truly appreciate that, most times, the host provides their space for the preview class without charging a fee.  I'm thankful for all of the families who are interested in sharing early communication with their little ones. I applaud the families who are a bit unsure about sharing early communication with their little ones in this way who still come out to learn more about Signing Smart and how using American Sign Language can benefit their family.

At the same time, I'm a bit nervous.  I have my fingers crossed that the weather cooperates, all of the families who planned to come are able to make it, and that everyone has a great time. On the flip side, I'm a bit concerned that far more families will decide to join the fun that I expected.  "What if I don't have enough fun stuff to go around," is always the thought in the back of my mind while I'm packing.  Of course, I know that I always over-pack for just this reason.  So the chances of running out of things to play with are practically 0. 

I imagine the families preparing to attend the class are dealing with the same mix of emotions.  "This will be fun!" "I'm glad we found a fun activity to participate in as a family." "I can't wait to have real communication started so we can end some of these tantrums!" "I've heard good things about signing with kids...but what am I really getting myself into?"  "Will there be other families with our same parenting approach?" "Will there be other children the same age as mine?"  The list goes on, I'm sure.

And then, the time comes for class to start, and any uncertainties are washed away.  As soon as we start singing the hello song everyone is bonded with a common purpose.  We're all there to help facilitate language and communication for the future of our youngest generation.  There are smiling babies, chattering toddlers, and bonding parents.  There are coos and giggles, and even a few signs to be seen and heard.

We're singing and playing.  We're signing. There are questions being asked and answered.  There are families bonding.  Amongst it all, there's learning going on! More often than not, even after the official class winds down, we sing our goodbye song and answer any lingering questions, the event isn't really over.  Little ones continue to play with a favorite toy.  Parents chat about birth stories, parenting, favorite restaurants, best family outings, etc.

On the best days, all of the families at the preview class decide to return and take a full session of classes.  I'm eager for them to continue to strengthen the bond formed during our preview session.  These families may not choose to spend time together socially, outside of class, but while we meet together they will be fabulous allies and resources for each other.

Even if families decide that the present session is not the best fit for them, preview day is a good one. Any day I get to share my passion for language and early communication is a good day.  Seeing eyes alight with understanding, tentatively practiced new signs, and gummy grins only serve to make it all the better!

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