Sign Up for Signing
Excerpt with permission from Parenting on the Peninsula and author, Evelyn Preston
Every parent’s been there, those fraught moments when their cuddly, cooing, oh-so-cute baby suddenly turns into a cranky, frustrated infant or toddler, spitting food, constantly crying, or even throwing tantrums. When it’s a toss-up over who’s more frantic and confused, baby or mommy, and it’s definitely not colic, a bump or a burp, there’s an ingenious way to ask baby “What’s up?” The little tyke may not yet have any words but definitely demands to be heard.
To bridge this super charged communication gap, Happy Baby Signs’ dedicated instructors teach new parents how “to talk” with their young offspring via American Sign Language. The amazing results calm everyone, get baby’s message across and offer brain enhancing benefits: accelerated language ability, reduced aggressive behavior and positive interaction plus the bonus of a stronger bond between baby and parent.
The fun-filled classes with songs and interactive activities teach classic American Sign Language to parents (babies welcome), who then weave it into their infants’ everyday routines. Tricky to learn from a book, however an experienced “personal trainer” can fuse the nuance of signs, sounds and gestures that will work—and stick.
Parents begin the Happy Baby Signs programs just as children’s long-term memory and motor skills kick in at about 4 - 6 months old. At 8-10 months, as kids start mimicking adults and gesturing their wants, simple signing provides a jump-start for the verbal skills ahead. The 90 minute Introductory Workshop presents the basics and benefits of signing (with a proof-positive video of adorable babies signing), prior to the follow-up six weeks of themed, one hour courses designed to help absorb about 100+ signs (for foods, colors, clothes, animals, playtime, etc.), that cement the magic.
According to Teacher Bill, even the youngest babies want to be connected to the world around them and can be clever and resourceful while learning how. Infants will emphatically indicate, “all done” after meals and baths or begin moving their hand to their mouth when they’re hungry. Emotions shine via smiles and hugs to the unmistakably signal “I love you.”
With mom, dad and grandparents consistently reinforcing with words, expressions and body language, signing kindles indelible associations in the fast forming infant brain. “It’s like riding that proverbial bicycle,” explains Bill, “once learned, not easily forgotten.” Early communication in languages, whether signing, Chinese, English or all together, becomes natural, interchangeable, useful and fun. Babies just do it and quickly catch on!
As children mature, the pleasure of being understood enhances self-esteem that in turn, encourages confidence toward increased communication which leads to more effective signing…a lasting circle of learning that spirals on to pre-school and beyond.
Parents wholeheartedly endorse this training. Just read the testimonials. Happy Baby Signs' instructors are lauded and loved for their special expertise and super enthusiasm. Paraphrased excerpts include, “My baby is rarely frustrated and therefore so am I; my child was so excited when we understood him; such a fun way of presenting the material—never too rigid; my daughter adds signs together for sentences...like 'MORE' + 'BOOK'.” and “the payoff is tremendous!”
As a speaker, Mommy’s Coach, and class participant, Carrie Vawter-Yousfi, says, “I especially appreciated Bill’s teaching by example, his wonderful stories of how signing with his own two young sons made their family life so much easier. I learned to start early, the sooner the better.”
Liza Baskind, mother of three, dispels the mistaken notion that signing will limit speaking. “On the contrary,” she says; “especially for so many children with delayed speech ability, signing will coax out more words, another factor in reducing frustration for parent and child.”
With the increasing popularity and positive results of Happy Baby Signs classes, parents who consider saving for a far off college future can make a nominal investment of time and money for their babies today that pays huge dividends in just a few months. It’s proven that children who communicate early via signing are verbally ahead a year or more by age three. Along with Thoreau’s premise that “language is the basis of all knowledge,” Teacher Bill reminds parents that “You can never redo those most important first two years of life!”