“ The original baby signing programme. „
We started 'sing and sign' classes at a friend's suggestion when my daughter was around 8 months old. she's now 14 months and since she was maybe ten months old she's been signing at us to let us know what she wants and asking for new signs to help her express what she's interested in. The classes have been perhaps the most useful baby class we've taken with her. As she can let us know her basic needs and tell us a little about what she's interested in we've averted many of the basic 'I cannot communicate with you, mother! Read my mind!' type frustration tantrums that are so awful for toddlers and parents alike (though of course we still get some tantrums! The classes are a tool, not a miracle!). We've really enjoyed the classes too. We've done stage one twice and we're about to try to find a stage 2 class. Sing and sign teaches a mixture of BSL, ASL and Makaton signs to hep pre-verbal babies and children to communicate. It does this through, unsurprisingly, songs and props. Perhaps the best loved of these is Jessie Cat who plays 'peekaboo' and teaches the 'where?' sign. The wee one loves jessie so much that we bought her one after the last session ended and now she goes everywhere with us! The classes aren't cheap, at around £65 per block of sessions, but it has been, in my opinion, more than worth it. My daughter's communication skills have blossomed. She's learnt confidence and she's learning new words and signs at a tremendous speed, and in part I put this down to her being used to being able to communicate and wanting to be able to do more!
When my son was about 6 months old, I started looking at classes to take him to in order to vary our routine and give him some educational stimulation. (Yes I know it seems a lot for a 6 month old but he was very aware of things!). I went along for a taster session which I think was about £2.50 just to try. The class started at 11a.m which was just perfect me as I dreaded the thought of getting out the house too early! There were a couple of locations I had the choice of as it's a franchise so I chose the nearest about 3 miles away. It was held in a large church hall with plenty of room to move about for the children on the move. There was lots of parking so a really good location. Most of the babies doing stage 1 were around the same age. There were about 20 people in the class. The sessions always begin the same way with a welcome song which then introduces each child in turn to wave hello to. Then it recap on what you learnt last week and move onto more songs and stories with signs. They only encourage you to use one sign in any sentence so your child doesn't become overwhelmed. The first signs were basics such as milk, more and all gone. Half way through the session, Jessie cat comes out. Very much like Postman Pats Jessie although much more playful! She pops out of a box delighting all the children as they sing 'where oh where oh where is Jessie?'. She is then taken round to each child to give a hug. Music time is always good as percussion instruments and bells are handed round to shake like mad! It encourages the learning of fast, slow, loud and quiet. The sessions finish with a goodbye song. The thing I most liked about it was in our group, the toys came out at this point and we were made a cup of tea and were actually able to talk to the other parents without being shoved out of the door for the next class. We did two terms of stage 1 then one of stage 2. It was about £50 for 10 sessions which is fairly expensive but worth every penny. The session itself lasted about 45 minutes then there was about 20 minutes of tea, biscuit time and toy time. At the beginning of each course, I was e-mailed a full handout to show all the signs used so it didn't matter if I didn't get them at the time, I had something to refer to. To be honest, I never really practised the signing at home. I wasn't really that bothered about pushing it too much as I had heard it could slow speech development down. Also, I just wasn't that organised! I was just happy to go to a great friendly class where there weren't any cliques and plenty of space to move around in. Towards the end, when he was walking, he'd go off and I would find myself singing anyway! We both had fun so I guess that's the main thing!!
As Jessie cat jumped out of her silver, sparkly box, my nine month old daughter shrieked with excitement, and started bouncing up and down on my knee. Impatience soon took over and she crawled as fast as she could to get to the elusive stuffed toy, before cuddling her with intent and refusing to let go. Tears ensued when Jessie was inevitably passed along to the next baby in our Sing & Sign class! Thats was the first week and I realised the classes were already a huge hit. Sing & Sign is a fun, singing based class, which aims to teach babies as young as six months, basic signs to help them communicate. Its a fact that babies are capable of understanding things long before they can verbalise them, so it makes sense that signing is an effective tool for reducing many toddler frustrations. The signs include basics such as eat, drink, nappy, sleep, home etc, and progress to more difficult ones as the weeks go on. They are always repeated the following week to jog the limited mummy memory, but really need to be practised at home too, if you are serious about your baby signing. Props are also used, including different toys and hand-held musical instruments. I joined a five week taster course, costing £25 and was primarily doing it for the social aspect. My baby was getting bored at home and I wanted her to get out and about, and mix with more babies of a similar age. There were five of us in the class all with little babies, but one girl was there with a baby and toddler. Although he threw his fair share of tantrums, the little boy was easy to engage and impressed us all with his knowledge of the signs. My daughter, meanwhile, showed no interest in the signs, preferring to pull off the other babies socks, tug hair or steal toys! Until of course Jessie made her weekly appearances, when she would go quiet, aw-struck before turning into a hyperactive bunny! Sing & Sign is an enjoyable class, if a little cheesy. But hey, we're doing it for the kids right? And mine loved it so much I've put my name down for the next batch of lessons.
I was looking for something to do with my little girl and I came across sing and sign, so I looked into it and thought it would be a good class to go to. I was also chatting away to my friend and it turned out she had also enrolled on it with her little boy. I was a little nervous and apprehensive about the class when we went the first time on what to expect, but I needn't have been. Sing and sign is a baby signing program which encourages your baby to use signs for certain things, such as milk, sorry, hurt, food etc. Its a well know fact that babies can sign before they can talk and so this class is aimed to help the parents learn the signs and then teach it to their babies through everyday situations. A lot of parents also use signs without even realising and then baby picks them up. The class is set out in a fun way, and the signs in each class are kept to a minimum to help mum (or dad) and baby learn. There is a lot of signing to help make the experience more fun. The songs are familiar songs that most people know, but the words have been changed to help with the signing. In our first week we covered the likes of milk, drink, food and more, including some farm animals. For each set of words we sang to a song, so for example the farm animals we sung away to twinkle twinkle little star, but replaced the words with animal names and noises. It also includes the trademark Jesse cat playing peek a boo, a chance for us all to play musical instruments, and a chance for the babies to pick something out of the bag, which we will then sing and sign about, for example, polly had a dolly. I went away from the class thinking I will never learn the signs, and to be fair it took me about 3 weeks to become familiar with both the signs and some of the songs. The good thing is we always repeat what has been covered in past weeks, so it becomes second nature. My daughter was 6 months when we started and I didn't think we would gain too much, just a chance to get out, meet other mummies and babies and just socialise. My daughter is now 9 months, and she really enjoys socialising with the other babies, and she really looks forward to certain parts of the class, like when Jesse cat comes out of the box. She pays so much attention and laughs when he plays hide and seek, and it was really nice last week to hear a couple of the mummies say how well she has come on in the class. She doesn't know any of the signs yet to do herself, but I am sure she knows when I sign some of the signs, like 'time to eat' and 'do you want some more'. At the same time it should be noted that parents have to be quite consistent with he signs at home too for the baby to learn. I have taught my mum the signs as she looks after my daughter when I am at work, I have also brought the dvd for my mum and myself, and my daughter loves to sit in front of it. One thinig that is nice is to watch the older babies of 12 months+ sign and make the noises, as I know what to expect, and I have also seen some of the babies come on really well with the signing, in the couple of weeks we have been there. I have booked onto term two now, and I really hope it isn't too long that my daughter shows me her first sign. The classes are franchise, so the prices vary from area to are, but ours cost £53 for 12 weeks which I think is a good price. I have also made some good friends there now
What is baby signing? Babies use all kinds of signs and gestures as a natural part of learning to talk. Encouraging your baby with extra signs like milk, more, change nappy or tired will help your baby communicate!