Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's that time...it'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



Date
Time
Topic
Co-Host
April 7, 2015
9 pm EST
Busy Families, Organized!
@themommamamom
April 14, 2015
9 pm EST
New Mom Sleep Survival
@sugarplumsleep
April 21, 2015 
9 pm EST
Sensory Play Ideas
@playingschool
April 28, 2015
9 pm EST
Newborn Baby Routines
@bandbbyanna
May 5, 2015
9 pm EST
Managing Family Schedules
@JenniferSMiller
June 2, 2015
9 pm EST
Parenting Through the Storm
@anndouglas

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When Can We Start Teaching Our Baby to Sign?

mother using baby sign language with baby and signing "father"
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. 

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Yes, "Moose" is a Motivator!

I remember the first day that I met Soham. I was working in Pickering, Ontario at a group home for children who are medically fragile. One of our residents had just passed away and we were told that we would be getting a new little boy in the next couple of days. From the moment he came in the door he was a little ray of sunshine. I knew then that there was a special bond between us. It wasn't long until my husband met and fell in love with him and we adopted him.

Soham was born in Toronto, Ontario in 2008. His birth parents were unable to care for him due to his many medical needs and diagnosis of Down syndrome. He spent much of his early years in and out of hospitals and foster homes. When he was three years old he was moved into the group home where I worked. He was unable to express himself through verbal communication as his many medical needs had been more of a priority over anything else. He often became frustrated and would hit people because was trying to communicate but had no tools to do so.


I took it upon myself to get some books from the library on American Sign Language (ASL) and to start teaching him the signs for animals (something he loved). He picked them up right way. His first sign was “moose” soon after he could sign “monkey”, “fish”, “elephant”, “pig”, “dog” and so many others. He was so happy that he was able to communicate with me about the things that he loved! I knew I was going to have to learn sign language.


I took to the internet to research where I could learn. I quickly came across WeeHands and took all of the online classes. I was amazed at how quickly he was learning to sign! At times he knew more signs than I did. He would sign something and I would have to look it up. I continued to learn and build vocabulary based on things he was learning at the time, potty training and feeding, playing, etc.


Soham is now seven years old and is starting to communicate using sign language to form complete sentences, “I want __________ please mommy” “Thank you for __________ mommy”. Another important thing to note is that when Soham signs, it slows down his thought process and he is able to say the word as he signs it. It is not always clear but he definitely tries to verbalize every word he signs.


I can’t imagine where we would be today without ASL.  Thank you WeeHands for giving my family the tools to communicate with our sweet little boy, Soham!


Sheena Lane is Soham's mom and is now also a WeeHands Instructor teaching in southwestern Ontario. 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, March 02, 2015

What The Heck is Baby Sign Language?

Baby sign language...is it fad? Is it a trend? I've been teaching parents to sign with their children for over 15 years and WeeHands has been around since 2001. I'm not sure what the actual definition of a "fad" is but I'm pretty sure we've gone far beyond whatever length of time is attributed to a fad.


Why baby sign language? What is Baby Sign Language?

Basically, baby sign language is a way for your baby to communicate with you - with their hands - before clear speech develops. Just as a baby learns to wave "bye-bye" a baby can learn to sign "milk", "mommy", "water", "dog" and even, "I love you"!

WeeHands teaches parents to use key American Sign Language vocabulary or signs, paired with their speech, when interacting with their little ones. For example, when a parent gives their baby a drink of water, that parent would sign and say the word, WATER. When giving their baby a bath, a parent would also sign and say the word, WATER. Eventually, the baby will learn to sign "WATER" either to make a comment about or to request water when they want some using the ASL sign for water!


Using motivating and functional American Sign Language signs to represent items, activities and even feelings, you and your baby can begin to communicate clearly, earlier than first spoken words, reducing frustration for both of you. In general, first spoken words come between 11 and 12 months of age while first signs can come between 9 and 10 months of age. Your baby wants to communicate well before first words come and baby sign language allows them to!


Benefits of Using Baby Sign Language

We asked recently on our facebook page the question, "Why do you sign with your baby?" and here are some of the benefits that parents shared:

  1. baby sign language allows baby to be understood before speech develops
  2. babies and toddlers learning to say have better fine motor skills
  3. baby sign language is another wonderful way to be able to bond with your child
  4. American Sign Language is a beautiful second language
  5. babies and toddlers who are able to sign have fewer frustrations which means less stress for all!
  6. communication using signs is so much easier for babies who can't speak yet
There you are just a few wonderful reasons to using sign language with your baby! Are you signing with your baby? What benefits are you seeing?

Sara Bingham is the author of The Baby Signing Book and the founder of WeeHands. 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.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Learn Baby Sign Language from a SODA!


Okay we're actually not starting the "pop" versus "soda" debate here but we're talking about Karla's baby sign language classes in Toronto!

Karla Velasquez is the sibling of a Deaf adult (a SODA!), her younger brother Diego who was born deaf. She has grown up with American Sign Language as the third language in her household; English and Spanish being the first and second respectfully. After high school, Karla studied American Sign Language at the Canadian Hearing Society. She was accepted and graduated from the American Sign language and Deaf Studies program, after which she enrolled into the American Sign language - English Interpreter program. She soon realized that becoming an interpreter was not where she wanted to go career wise but rather, working with families/toddlers who want to learn ASL for communication purposes. Karla frequently volunteers with Deaf organizations/ associations, and Deaf events/festivals throughout the year within the the Deaf Community. 

Karla notes "having had the opportunity to learn the amazing benefits and possibilities that American Sign Language can do for overcoming communication obstacles; I want to bring awareness to other parents/families. I want to encourage and inspire others to learn this wonderful language. Whether for a fun pass time and bonding activity, or to relieve stress and frustration that can come from trying to guess your baby's wants and needs!" 

For more about Karla's baby sign language classes call 647-239-1568 or email: karla@weehands.com.