Does Baby & Toddler Sign Language Promote Whole Child Development?

My Smart Hands Saskatoon is a program that teaches parents how to communicate with their children by using American Sign Language (ASL) signs. Our classes use ASL signs, as the research studies indicate that using a true language has more benefits that making up signs or gestures. We also, believe that ASL is a true language, and why not borrow this language’s signs to communicate with your child? Technically, you are teaching two languages. How neat is that?

Each week in our classes we cover a new and exciting theme! One of my favorite themes is ‘toys and objects’ as this week we play, explore and play some more. However, in all of the weeks, parents and children will be introduced to child development activities. Whole child development is very important, and is a key focus in our baby sign classes.

The whole child activities that we include in our classes focus on: physical, intellectual, social, emotional and language development. Here are some examples of how we promote child development and whole child wellness while maintaining the premise of ASL signs.

Physical (fine and gross motor skills)

Fine Motor:

In our ‘opposite’ theme we will bring out sensory boards and bins. These boards help children explore their world through various textile items. Parents are encouraged to sign, ‘touch’, ‘feel’, ‘look’, ‘rough’, ‘soft’ and much more.
Gross motor skills:

In our “animal” theme we will be going to the zoo and move as animals. This song and activity is a wonderful way for parents and their babies to move around the room, dance together, act like specific animals, and sign to the sounds each animal makes! Movement and music do promote a special bond.

Social Development:

A child’s social skills are being strengthened and encouraged in our classes. My Smart Hands Saskatoon, has small class sizes which are between 3 to 6 families. We keep our classes small, to ensure families get to know one another and their children recognize familiar faces each week.

All the parents and their children are welcomed to sit together on a shared foam square. Toys and easy to sign books are places in the middle to encourage play and exploration while parents are sharing their stories, asking questions and learning signs to be used in the following activity. We experience many first in our classes- first time a child signs, first crawl, first roll over and even have had our first steps!

Emotional Development:

Babies and toddlers are learning about their emotions and are not able to self-regulate. However, in our classes, we often discuss ways to help a child learn to self-regulate. This is done though song, movement and bouncing activities. Parents will also learn various ’emotion’ signs during our last week together! We sign and sing, “If You are Happy and Know it” as well as “Happy Face Happy Face What Do You See?”.

Intellectual (Cognitive) Development:

Using ASL signs strengths and connects neurological brain connection. This means the activities that we use in our classes, increases and promotes intellectual/cognitive development.

An example of an activity is our ‘shake’ bottles. These bottles are often filled with water, sparkles, soap and water. Together, the parent and their child, shake the bottle and watch the changes. The specific brain development concept that is being learn is called, cause and effect. This activity is completed in our “toy/object” theme.

Social Development:

One main reason we keep our class sizes small, is that the children are able to socialize with the other children. Various child activities, promote social skill development such as movement and music. We sign and sing a version of “open shut them”, when children need to move about, which includes the sign “stop” for the English word freeze. All the parents and children have to “stop” until the music starts again. This song is teaching the social development skill of turn taking!

Language Development:

In short, language development is occurring during all of our baby sign language classes. Research indicates that a child needs to hear a word 200 times before verbally saying the word.

In all of our baby sign language classes, we are promoting the use of two languages! These are our verbal English and American Sign Language signs. Children are able to comprehend a single work though both auditory and visional learning. We never replace our verbal English, rather we support language development though using ASL signs

Please join us for a baby sign language class, and learn many more ways to promote whole child development!

Happy Signing,

Tanya Myrfield-Wolfe- BSW, RSW, Certified Baby Sign Language Instructor, & Parent Educator

My Smart Hands Saskatoon

http://www.mysmarthandssaskatoon.com

http://www.facebook.com/MySmartHandsSaskatoonBabySignLanguage

Cell: 306-202-9345

 

“It is vital when educating our children’s brains that we don’t neglect to educate their hearts.” – Dalai Lama

CTV morning news!

Did you manage to catch us on CTV morning news a few weeks back? We had so much fun that day, showing Saskatoon all about sign, exploration and play.

Here is one of the video clips. I was using “Food Monster” as a teaching tool during this segment. In classes, we promote whole child development, and will bring in multiple fun, educational and easy to make items to facilitate learning.

http://saskatoon.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=442375&binId=1.1165965&playlistPageNum=1

Happy Signing,

Tanya

When Can I Start Signing with My Baby?

Tanya with My Smart Hands Saskatoon is often asked the question, “When can I start signing with my child?” The answer is never the same for each family, as each parent has their own reasons for using American Sign Language with their child.

Most baby & toddler sign language instructors recommend waiting until your child is between the ages of 4 to 6 months of age. Children are meeting important milestones during this time including: eye contact, purposeful movement of arms/hands, and beginning to find new ways to engage with their parents such as squealing, smiling, cooing and babbling. Parents may decide to start signing earlier or later. In fact, we have had children as young as 2 months up to 2.5 years of age in her classes. Basically parents can start signing with their baby or toddler when ready!

Based on child development, babies are ready for signing when they start moving their eyes and head to track toys or their parents face. This shows they are interested in learning and ready to start communicating with you! When you start signing, your child may show you many new reactions. This could be a frustrated or confused face, an interested expression, moving their hands in different ways, or smiling. These are all good indications that your child is trying to figure out what you are saying with your hands. Keep using American Sign Language and soon your child will be signing back!

A key point about signing, is to be consistent! Start signing with 2-5 words, consistently during the day. However, add more in every week as your child is wanting to learn more. Finally, watch your child for signing approximations and when they start signing or moving their hands to approximate a sign, reward them with praise or what they were asking for!
Level 1 class picture (3)
Join My Smart Hands Saskatoon’s Facebook page for more information related to baby & toddler sign language, child development and upcoming classes.

Happy Signing,
Tanya Myrfield-Wolfe- BSW, RSW, Certified Baby Sign Language Instructor, & Parent Educator
My Smart Hands Saskatoon

Family Feedback- Winter 2014 Session

What did you enjoy about your class? 

-Learning new things and other parent interaction

-Just liked having something to work on with him at home-gave us something to work on together with him and allowed him to see other kids. I liked learning for myself too!

– casual, but still moved along nicely, it was just the right amout of structure

– Songs & stories

-Bonding with other parents

-It was a fun, energetic class

-Songs- seemed to keep babies entertained

-Songs, especially the songs that go along to simple tunes like twinkle, twinkle little stars

-Everything!

-Lots of good discussions

-Thank you for you knowledge, expertise & energy

-Everything, group setting was good

-Liked sharing about my child each week

-Fun & Interactive

-Everything! Great Job 🙂

-singing and signing

What changes would you make to the class?

-None! I loved the relaxed schedule so we can discuss the signs that we need

-Maybe slightly longer

-project the song lyrics to make it easier to sign and sing

-Maybe 2x/week

-Learning more signs to nursery songs

-We really enjoyed it… I cannot think of anything

(Parents must have enjoyed the class, when they want the classes longer and 2x per week!

Would you access this class or another class again and/or would you refer our classes to a friend?

– Yes, will refer friends/speech clients

-Yes, to refer to friends. Great communication tool for parents & kids

-Yes- we learnt a lot

-I have made lots of recommendations

-Yes, I might take Level I again & would definitely take higher levels & recommend this class to others

-Yes. We learned a lot and I think it will help us communicate with our little one

-Absolutely, it’s been a fun experience. Our little one loved it!

-YES. I learned a lot, its an enjoyable social outing for us both

-Yes! Can’t wait to do level 2

-YES! It’s fun & educational

-Yes, next level to continue

-Yes, I’d like to try anotehr one and I definitely will tell my friends. I feel its important to help with language development

Additional comments:

-I am sad its over 😦

-Loved it!

-Thank you. Our little one & I really enjoyed ourselves

-Looking forward to level II in March!

– Thank you for welcoming us to your home and making it so kid & infant friendly!

-Liked length- 8 sessions is good, once a week is great

-Yes, loved this class

-Thank you for everything

-Thanks, Tanya! We loved it!

Signing Saves Us from a Tantrum!!

Elijah is having a rough day. He was grumpy and whining at playgroup today. At snack time, I asked him if he wanted to eat snack or was he all done playing. He looked at me and said while signing, “all-done, ome”. He then said goodbye to his friends and to each of them said “Bye, all-done, ome, all-done, ome”. So glad we can communicate needs which leads to a reduced number of tantrums!

Facebook Fan of The Week

Surprise!!
I am wanting this group to be more active and learn from each other about our infant & toddler signing adventure. To help promote this, for the month of October I will announce a Fan of the Week only on our facebook group (link below)!

What is a Fan of the Week?
The fan of the week is the most active signing friend- by sharing, liking, commenting on status updates or posting questions/comments/ideas for all to see!

When is the Fan of the Week determined?
Each Wednesday evening I will find out who was the most active on this site. From there you will be known as a Fan of the week. There will be 4 Fans of the Week in October (October 9, 16, 23 and 30)

Why do you want to be Fan of the Week?
Each of the Fan of the Week’s names will be placed into a bag and the winner will be picked by Elijah (On October 31)! The person who is picked will win a Sign & Sing Workshop for up to 5 friends!!! This will be held at My Smart Hands Saskatoon’s home studio. The date will be determined by what works for both our schedules!!

To be part of this fun join our facebook group at:

.facebook.com/MySmartHandsSaskatoonBabySignLanguage

Baby Sign Language on Global News at 6PM

Baby Sign Language on Global News at 6PM

Thank you Wendy of Global News who delivered a great story about baby & toddler sign language. We were greatly impressed and even saw Elijah complete a few signs, parents having fun signing and children playing together! This is what #babysign is all about- bridging the gap to meaningful communication!!

http://globalnews.ca/video/864229/baby-sign-language

Baby & Toddler Sign Language will be on Global News Tonight at 6PM!!

Global News was in attendance of yesterday’s Baby & Toddler Sign Class!!
Be sure to watch for My Smart Hands Saskatoon, Baby & Toddler Sign Language on Global News tonight during their 6PM news. We will be on Focus Saskatchewan with a longer news segment on Saturday and Sunday at 6:30PM!!Image

Bringing Signing Into Your Daily Activities!

My Smart Hands Saskatoon provides tips and ideas in their classes and workshops on how to incorporate signing into your day to day activities. Signing is meant to promote early and effective communication between a child (infant, toddler or preschooler) and their parent and/or caregiver. Baby and toddler sign language is fun, helps with routines and can help your day run more smoothly! Want to know more? We will provide a few ideas on how to bring signing into your day from the moment your little one wakes up to the time they close their eyes for bedtime.

Wake Up With Signing:

A great game to play when you first hear your little one waking up is ‘peak-a-boo’. From the hall way or your bed ask your little one “Where is mom?” Pop in from the hall way or poke your head out of the sheets and say “Here is ‘MOM’!” while signing mom. These small signing games will bring a smile to your little one as they will see you and begin to recognize then sign ‘MOM’ back. Plus, why not start the morning off with a fun game that teaches: words, signing and object permanence!

Signing can be used for your morning wake up routine. You can then decide that it is “Time to ‘CHANGE YOUR DIAPER’ as it is ‘WET”!”. Signing ‘CHANGE DIAPER’ has helped children to stay more still on the change table as they are watching and interacting with you and will try to sign back when ready.

‘BRUSH YOUR TEETH’ ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch, ‘BRUSH YOUR TEETH’. This Raffi song makes brushing teeth so much fun! Together you can ‘BRUSH TEETH’ while signing and bring music into your day.

Signing On The Go:

Stuck in Traffic? Are you hitting every light red? Are you traveling across the city to play group or baby sign class? This is a great time for signing and singing. Our favorite song to sign and sing in the car is the alphabet.  Dream English is a wonderful site that promotes early language development and has simple songs that all children love. Or even bring your exclusive My Smart Hands’ CD to sign and sing about airplanes, old McDonald, twinkle twinkle little star or play it again! What a great bonding experience when you are in a car signing and signing with your child. Make sure your always driving

Are you in the grocery store shopping for the? I love signing with Elijah when we are shopping. Elijah will see and sign to fruit and veggies! We love to combine words to sign such as we see ‘ORANGES’ and will sign ‘ORANGE JUICE’, or asking if he sees the ‘PURPLE GRAPES’. We will often sign what we are looking for such as we are going to look for “BEANS”, oh here is the can of “BEANS”. This provides a visual image, ASL sign and verbal language. Such a wonderful chance for learning and communicating!

 Play Time:

Follow your child’s lead. With which play are they playing? Are they playing with a big and small ball? Watch and start signing! Keep playtime fun with signing. Let your child know that they are playing with a ‘SMALL BLUE BALL’. If they are working with blocks, ask them to stack the ‘PINK BLOCK ON the PURPLE BLOCK’. Let them know that they are driving their ‘ORANGE BIKE FAST’. The signing that you can do during playtime is endless and so much fun!!

Bed Time Routine:

Signing is great to help with transitioning from meal time, to play time and finally bed time. Signing what your routine is every night will help your child to transition from playing to a more calm and relaxed state. We have signed our bedtime routine to Elijah since he was 4.5 months old. We would verbally say and support with signing that we will take a ‘BATH’, ‘BEDTIME SNACK’, ‘CHANGE DIAPER’, ‘MILK’, ‘READ A BOOK’ and ‘SING BEDTIME SONGS’. We have found when Elijah knows what is happening next the transition from one activity to the next is much easier (most nights)! Bring signing and singing into each of these transitions creates a fun and educational bedtime routine. Signing in the bath is so much fun. You can find foam alphabets and numbers, rubber toys and boats to make this time even more enjoyable and promoting learning and exploration. Also, when washing body parts, sign and sing “This is the way we wash your _______”!

We would love to hear from you other ways to bring signing into your day. Join My Smart Hands Saskatoon for a class and learn even more ideas and ways to bring signing into your daily activities. Remember the key is to be able to communicate with your child in meaningful ways!

Happy Signing!

New Baby and Toddler Sign Classes Are Under Way!!

This week has been busy. We had two new baby sign language classes start! We also were working on our basement and putting the final touches on the home signing studio. I love how this room has transformed. Today, parents walked in and down stairs. Their faces lite up when they entered the signing room. The comments were awesome to hear after putting in so much sweat love!

Here are some pictures:

ImageImageImageImageImageImage