Friday, 16 August 2013

'Baby' signing

When Harry was 9 months old I signed him up for a term of Sing and Sign classes. Once a week we sat in a circle in the church hall, us Mums singing little songs while frantically signing away at our babies. I couldn't fault the classes, I thought it was a great idea, and I even purchased the DVDs to watch at home. Harry wasn't quite so impressed, he refused to sit still and spent most of the actual classes crawling about playing with the toys I had to bring along to keep him happy. After all that work he picked up three signs - 'duck', 'where' and 'all gone' - and was chattering away with real words before long anyway.

He's 4 and a half now with a very good vocabulary, so I was surprised a couple of weeks ago when all of a sudden he started signing everything. It started with 'please', 'thank you' and 'sorry', then moved on to other signs which I didn't know - 'coat', 'glue', 'paint'. Of course, investigation revealed that they are teaching all the children signing at his nursery. It was a scenario reminiscent of something I blogged about ages ago. They've told them that they need to practice at home, which he has taken completely to heart - perhaps he's worried that he'll be in trouble if he doesn't!

I think it's great in many ways, he is obviously interested in learning the signs and I'm very impressed (although to be fair it's in his genes, I studied languages!). He's even started making up his own signs and teaching them to me. But it's also becoming rather annoying, with his chatter constantly accompanied by his hands automatically flailing about all over the place. Also it's a bit embarrassing when we're out in public or with friends and it makes me look a bit like a pushy Mum.

So, if you are desperately trying to teach your baby or young toddler signing and they aren't catching on, don't worry, there's plenty of time for them to pick it up!

Did you do baby signing? Did it work for you?

8 comments:

  1. I did signing with my daughter and she used to sign all the time, especially when she was older and asble to talk, but to upset to get the words out. She still signs now as they use the signs at school. My son wasn't interested in signing as a baby as he learnt to speak so early, but he does it now he's in preschool.

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    1. I wonder whether I should have done it a bit more with my daughter, I didn't bother as it didn't really work for my son. She is learning a few at the nursery too although she only does them when prompted.

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  2. We did, & used to love it. It was a great moment when Jake was able to sign for food, indicating he was hungry: probably our first proper communication. And when he learned the sign for Rugby I was a very happy Daddy! Although to be fair he got that from Mr Tumble :)

    It does seem odd to me though to be teaching signing to 4-year-olds: I wouldn't have thought they'd need it at that age

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    1. Mine both had words before signs for things that they actually needed like drink and food. Actually my son didn't admit he was ever hungry until he'd been talking for ages, he doesn't each much! It is amazing when they start to communicate, it makes the job of parenting much easier!

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  3. Took my eldest to Sing & Sign. Can't praise it highly enough. Then used with youngest naturally. I found it amazing how often they would sign / ask for a drink - extremely useful - and people are always saying how articulate both my boys are. They learn in their schools now and have a natural affinity with it :)

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    1. It's interesting that they are still learning signs at school, I thought that it was very much a baby thing unless the child had a particular need to learn the signs. It's a great idea, and I should have done it a bit more with my second, perhaps I didn't repeat the signs enough to my son. I must admit that I pushed the 'duck' one quite a lot and so I wasn't surprised when he picked it up.

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  4. I did Tiny Talk classes with my daughter. She used signs before she talked, but really started using it once she started talking. It really helped us because if she did a sign we knew she was trying to communicate something and we could try and work out what (the talking and signs weren't very clear to start with).

    We did the same with my son, but it took him longer to do signs himself, again about the time he started to speak. Although he is using signs that B never did, such as thank you, again, tractor. B has started signing again now the rest of us are.

    I think signing is a great idea because it encourages children to communicate and I think reduces their frustration. When we started, people warned us it would discouraging talking, but we felt it was more important to learn to communicate in anyway, rather than focus on talking.

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    1. You do definitely realise when little ones are trying to sign something, as they wave their hands about in a particular way! My daughter hasn't really picked up any signs yet though, although she'll copy them if you do them first. It must be good for their learning though, giving them something extra to think about and build all those brain connections!

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