Friday, August 07, 2015

WeeHands in Connecticut

Welcome to our newest, wonderful WeeHands baby sign language Instructor, Amy Anderson Moncy!

Amy Anderson Moncy is a speech language pathologist who holds a Doctorate in Speech Language Pathology from Nova Southeastern University as well as a Master of Science (M.S.), Speech-Language Pathology from the University of the District of Columbia. 

Amy shares, "I currently work as a speech language pathologist in an early childhood magnet school. I began using sign language at church in children songs and have incorporated signing into my practice in speech pathology. I've seen how a little one signing "more" has made such a big difference in their interaction with parent. I'm excited about WeeHands and the opportunity to help children and parents share special moments together."

For more information about Amy's baby sign language classes in New London, CT visit her webpage: 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Top Signs to Use with Your Baby

Becoming a parent is one of the most exciting times of your life. Those first few years can be some of the most overwhelming times as well. Your baby is learning all about the world and all that it has to offer, while you are trying to figure out this thing called “parenting”. 

Baby sign language is something that you've heard about and you are thinking about trying it. By adding key signs to the spoken words that you are saying to your baby, you can give her a way of understanding and communicating about her world. Her first signs will most likely come before her first spoken words...much earlier!

You may see things in a whole new light as you teach your baby that she can use her hands to communicate as well as sounds, and eventually spoken words. Signing with your baby can be an incredible experience when you see your baby learn about everything as she sees, feels and experiences things for the very first time. To get started all you need are a few basic American Sign Language signs.

Which signs should you start with? How many signs should you use? Keep in mind that signing with your baby should be fun and that we don’t want you to feel overwhelmed. You'll want to start with a handful of signs to use get you and your baby on the way to communicate clearly with each other. Start with about 3-5 signs and then add more as you get more comfortable and as your baby’s interests grow. 

Which Signs Should We Start With?

One of the first baby sign language books published recommended starting with only 3 signs to use with your baby: "milk", "more" and "eat".  Joseph Garcia in his book, Sign with your Baby, suggested that parents start with these three signs and add more when their baby is using these three. 

Depending on how sleep deprived you are, I believe you can start with more than that. My son's first sign was not on the list - his first sign was "fish". It was something that very motivating to him - he loved "goldfish" (the swimming sort, not the cracker. Now I suggest that parents add the sign for "finish" to the above list - it's a powerful one - and  a sign (or signs) for something that is really motivating to your baby, for example, "fish" or "dog".

This list of 5 American Sign Language (ASL) signs can be some of the most effective words you want to start with and emphasize for your baby. The signs for "milk", "eat" and for example, "dog" will represent items that your baby will typically want and be interested in, while "more" and "finished" are very powerful signs. Items of interest and the vocabulary to control their environment gives your baby some very powerful communication tools. 

When you can, say the word as you sign it to your baby. Make it natural through the day...when you say "milk", show your baby the sign. Don't worry about overwhelming your baby, you won't.  As you can more comfortable signing and saying the word, you can add more signs as your confidence grows and as your baby's interests grow.

Be Consistent As Possible

When you are interacting with your baby, sign and talk with your baby. Try to show your baby a sign for what is occurring before, during and after the activity. Before you give your baby milk, sign and say "milk". While your baby is drinking milk, sign and say "milk". After your baby is finished drinking milk, sign and say "milk finished". 

Be patient with your baby. You'll be doing this over and over again. Be patient with yourself. There will be times you'll forget to sign, that's okay. There may be times during your first year with baby, you'll be tired to speak. Try not to be hard on yourself. You are doing a great job!  You may find out "Signs to Start With" handout may be helpful to help you understand how a sign is made. You can get this handout by signing up for our e-newsletter here

Signs to Start With

Our "Signs to Start With" handout or poster shows you eight (8) American Sign Language signs to use with your paper and is available as a PDF for all our e-newsletter subscribers. I recommend that you print out a few copies. Post one on your fridge so that everyone at home can learn the signs. Post one on the wall above your baby's change table to remind to sign during changing time and post one on the wall behind your baby's high chair. This way you'll see the signs when during baby's mealtime and the poster will remind you to sign with your baby!

Have you printed your copy of our "Signs to Start With" poster? Where have you posted it in your house?

Since 2001, WeeHands has been an industry-leading children's sign language and language development program delivered through interactive, fun classes, as well as a line of tailored products. In 2014, WeeHands became part of Morneau Shepell’s Children's Support Solutions, an organization that provides health-centered and educational services to children with differences to help them reach their potential. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

How On Earth Do I Get My Baby to Sign Back to Me?

Many new parents learn the signs for “milk”, “more” and “eat” when they start signing with their baby.  You might see other parents using these signs and some of the earlier baby sign language books recommended starting with just these three. The big question at this point that many parents ask is, “How on earth do I get my baby to sign back to me?”

Your Starting Signs

Most parents (and child care educators as well as nannies) begin with signs that are based on their baby’s needs, such as the signs for: milk, eat, more, sleep, diaper change, etc. Some parents and caregivers start signing with their baby with signs that represent items that interest their baby like “cat” or “light”. Still others begin with the basics like teaching the signs for “mommy” and “daddy”. One grandmother I met told me she was only going to use the sign “grandma” with her granddaughter!

What signs you choose to start with when you are signing with your baby is completely up to you. I do suggest that you begin with a few signs that represent both “motivating items” as well as “frequently occurring activities”. Maybe start with motivating signs, such as "milk", “dog”, “fan” and “more” and add signs for activities that you do each and every day with baby, for example, “sleep”,  “eat”, “change”, “bath” and “play”.

I've got my list of signs to start with….now what?

It's always best to try to use the sign, while saying the word, before, during and after an activity every time you do that activity. For example, when using the sign for “milk”….
  • BEFORE: Say the word and show the sign for “milk” right before it’s time to give your baby milk.
  • DURING: Then once your baby is nursing or getting a bottle, say the word and show the sign while they are drinking. Do this a few times during the activity and the association will come pretty quickly to your baby. 
  • AFTER: when the activity is finished, this is a great time to show the sign for “milk” again and pair it with the sign for “finish”. Remember, always say the word when you sign it.

Start with a Few Signs and Be Consistent

As with any parenting strategy that you’ll use, being consistent is most important. Try and remember to use the starting signs you’ve chosen each and every time they can be shown based on your daily activities. Consistency is very important but don’t be too hard on yourself.

This is a time that you are learning new skills, new routines. You may be feeling very anxious and you are most likely feeling tired…very tired.  Remember that no one is perfect.  Just remember to sign as much as you can…using the list of signs that you've chosen for your baby and to be as consistent as you can. 

How Will I Know If He Is Understanding Me?

You've got your list of starting signs. You are showing these signs to your baby before, during and after activities related to these signs as consistently as you can. How can you tell if your child is understanding what you are doing?

Most babies will sign back to you between 9 and 11 months of age, but even before then, he may understand what you sign to him. Even if he doesn't sign back to you immediately, after two to three weeks of signing to your baby he may just understand some of what you sign and say to him. How can you tell? Watch his eyes – do they seem to light up with excitement. Does he seem to kick his feet and move his hands in anticipation? If the sign you are using is related to food, does he start moving his tongue and his lips? Signs of understanding can be that simple…and that exciting!

From Understanding to Using Signs

After understanding comes expression. After your baby has learned to understand a few signs, you may notice him signing back between 9 and 11 months of age, especially if you have chosen a starting list of signs that are really motivating to your baby. My son’s first sign was at 9 months of age. His second sign came along 3 weeks later; his third sign came along 3 weeks after that. His fourth, fifth and sixth signs came 2 weeks apart and there was about a week between his seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth sign.  

That’s roughly just over 4 months to learn 10 words – between the ages of 9 and 13 months of age.  After his first 10 words his language learning seem to explode! By the time he was 18 months of age he had a total of 20 spoken words and 60 (yes, sixty!) ASL signs that he would use to communicate expressively!

So What Signs Will You Start With?

We’ve created an easy getting started sign poster that you can use with your baby. Just subscribe to our e-newsletter to get your copy!

Since 2001, WeeHands has been an industry-leading children's sign language and language development program delivered through interactive, fun classes, as well as a line of tailored products. In 2014, WeeHands became part of Morneau Shepell’s Children's Support Solutions, an organization that provides health-centered and educational services to children with differences to help them reach their potential. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's that's BabyTime!

We’re excited to announce that we will be at The BabyTime Show, coming up on April 24–26 at the Mississauga International Centre. WeeHands alumini and subscribers will receive a 2 for 1 coupon code. Watch your email to receive your coupon and invite a friend!

The BabyTime Show is the GTA’s biggest baby and toddler show, and will feature more than 250 exhibitors showcasing the latest and greatest in spring/summer must haves! Learn from top pregnancy and parenting experts, discover new and innovative products, check out special performances at the Toddler Time Stage and much more!

New and hot this year – a car seat safety and installation seminar and a “sleep” seminar with Nanny Robina, one of North America’s leading parenting experts. With an average 95 per cent success rate for putting babies to sleep, you won’t want to miss this talk!

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Be sure subscribe to our e-newsletter to get and use your exclusive 2 for 1 coupon code from WeeHands! Click here to subscribe!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

#WeeConnect Weekly Twitter Chat

2015 Twitter Chats

April 7, 2015
9 pm EST
Busy Families, Organized!
April 14, 2015
9 pm EST
New Mom Sleep Survival
April 21, 2015 
9 pm EST
Sensory Play Ideas
April 28, 2015
9 pm EST
Newborn Baby Routines
May 5, 2015
9 pm EST
Managing Family Schedules
June 2, 2015
9 pm EST
Parenting Through the Storm

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When Can We Start Teaching Our Baby to Sign?

We know that signing with your baby adds visual information that helps your baby learn language and baby sign language also helps to enhance bonding between you and your baby.  Now raise your hand if you’ve ever wondered, “When should I start signing with my baby?

Your baby didn’t come with instructions and so far you’ve figure out how to change a diaper, when she likes to eat and you’ve almost figured out this sleep-thing. You’ve heard about baby sign language, actually you’ve heard great things about it, well, except from your dear old Aunt Alice. She’s shared, “Why would you want to sign? Don’t you want her to ever talk?

First, let's get rid of that myth right away:  A common (and understandable) concern that some well-meaning relatives might ask is if baby sign language will delay speech skills?  The short answer is “no”.  

There’s more good news: baby sign language doesn't have to be overwhelming. With the right resources, you’ll be able start signing with your baby as soon as today!

Studies have shown that rather than delaying verbal language, babies who are signed to have larger vocabularies, both when they first began talking and even much later when they were in school, than their non-signed-to peers! 

So When Should I Start?

You can start signing with your baby at any time. Most babies in our classes are between the ages of 5 and 10 months when they start. You can though sign earlier and later with your baby – it’s up to you!

Typically most babies will sign back to you between the ages of 9 and 11 months of age, but many will understand a lot that you sign to them before 9 months of age. For example, before a baby is able to show you the sign for milk, they will show you that they understand the sign when you make. If a baby is fussy and hungry, they may calm down (for a bit!) when you show them the sign for milk to let them know “milk is on the way”!

Since 2001, WeeHands has been an industry-leading children's sign language and language development program delivered through interactive, fun classes, as well as a line of tailored products. In 2014, WeeHands became part of Morneau Shepell’s Children's Support Solutions, an organization that provides health-centered and educational services to children with differences to help them reach their potential.