Baby Signing In the UK - A Mother's Story
by Lisa Connolly
The Original British Baby Signing Programme
As a mum of three, the one piece of advice I could give to any new parent would be to consider signing with your baby. I started attending Sing and Sign classes when my eldest daughter, Niamh, was just 6 months old after hearing about it from a friend.
We originally attended the course to get out of the house and meet other people. I guess I was a little sceptical at first, but the classes turned out to be great fun.
Classes are small with a friendly atmosphere and a great social ground for parents and babies. Niamh enjoyed the music, and the songs made it easy to learn the signs.
It wasn’t until she started to use signs herself that I became really enthusiastic and bought the Sing and Sign DVD so that my son, William, then aged 6, could join in at home!!
Baby signing is entirely natural and instinctive. This is why it works so well and babies enjoy it so much, because it’s not another language, it’s just a normal part of what parents and babies tend to do anyway….use lots of gestures!! It has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever encountered.
Through the Sing and Sign programme, Niamh learnt signs for a huge variety of words and phrases. Before she could speak, she was able to ask for things that she wanted, tell me how she was feeling, and even engage in conversation!!
Her favourite signs were for animals. At 10 months old, over breakfast one summer morning, she told me she could hear the birds singing outside!! She also loved to talk about going to feed the ducks, and would sign every animal she saw from the window whenever we went out in the car.
Signing gave me an insight into the real little person she was fast becoming, into her thoughts, preferences and ideas long before I would have been able to share them if I’d waited until she could talk clearly.
She rarely became frustrated because she was able to make herself understood, which pleased her enormously!! Now aged 6, Niamh is chatty and confident with a very mature vocabulary. I believe this is due largely to the head start she was given in communication as a baby.
By the time my second daughter, Maegan, was born we started to sign without even thinking about it. She liked to talk about her feelings most of all.
It was wonderful that the children were able to understand each other through gestures, and I believe it helped them to bond. It made my heart melt to see Maegan ask Niamh or William for a hug, or to see them saying sorry to each other.
Maegan is now 4 years old, and has long since stopped signing in favour of talking non-stop!! Like Niamh, she is chatty and confident, and she constantly surprises me with her incredible vocabulary. She enjoys music, and the Sing and Sign DVD is still one of her favourites.
Having discovered the benefits of baby signing for myself, I was inspired to become a teacher of Sing and Sign and share this rewarding experience with other families.
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