Sunday, February 06, 2011

Our Signing Experience(s)

When I registered my daughter (Gaby) for baby sign language class I wasn't at all sure what to expect, but I was excited. I had learned about the class through a brochure at my midwife clinic and it looked interesting. And, this was basically going to be our first interactive activity with some other kids, which we were craving. Gaby was just seven-months old when we started, and I was really curious to see what kind of things we were going to do and learn.

Our first class arrived and we just loved it! Well, I did... Gaby just kinda sat there and took it all in. But, I was learning a LOT. It was easier than I thought it would be and it was very well taught. There was a great variety of songs - some new and some classic - an excellent manual, and a very patient instructor who answered all questions straight away. And, the other Mom's and kids were great. Gaby did her sign language classes in late 2008/early 2009 and I am still friends with two of the Mom's from that class, and the instructor.

I admit that I was quite confused as to how my child would be able to sign a word that she didn't even know the meaning of yet. Like, how was she going to sign "Daddy" when she probably didn't even understand the concept. (Yes, I tend to overthink things like this all the time.) My husband shared the same concern. Regardless, I did the at-home activities with Gaby, as they were fun and easy. Asking my husband to learn a few signs was a harder sell. That came later...

Gaby started using her signs when she was just under 11-months old. "Ball" was one of the first ones she used, and "more". ("More", by the way, is probably one of the most helpful signs a child can have, in my humble opinion.) She would laugh and laugh and laugh when I signed, "Daddy is crazy." At this point, my husband was amazed. He couldn't believe it... we'd run through our vocabulary and she'd nail it. He was a convert and started signing with her, as well.

She took her signs to daycare. Although not a part of the curriculum, the staff knew what they were seeing. The first day she had lunch there, she was given a chunk of banana which she devoured, and then immediately signed for more. Within seconds another chuck of banana was in front of her. It was a proud moment. :)

As she started to develop speech, our signing at home waned and we all but stopped doing it, unfortunately.

In June of 2010, our son was born, and suddenly we were back to using our signs but in a different way. If, for example, my son was sleeping I could sign, "Quiet, please, your brother is sleeping". Without a word spoken, Gaby understood and we would have quiet. It was pretty cool to be able to bring it back like that.

In March, our son starts his Signing Babies class -- at the same location and with the same instructor! I am more excited than ever for this class, because I know full-well what we can expect.
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