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Monday, July 30, 2007

Signing Time

We're big fans of Signing Time ... and for those of you who may be contemplating teaching your baby/toddler sign language, I'd like to share our success story with you!

After Kayla was born and her diagnosis of Down syndrome was confirmed I found an online community that I quickly joined. A lot of the moms on there talked about Signing Time and how much it had helped their children; especially since most kids with Down syndrome will have a speech delay. I kept these videos in the back of my mind.

In the meantime I bought a pocket-size book with about 60 ASL signs and thought I would start using that. I honestly don't remember when we started signing those first few words to Kayla, probably after she was 8 months old. I guess we started with "more", "milk" and then "eat." I know in the beginning we weren't consistent about signing the word every time we used it, like you should do, but we got there eventually. When she was probably closer to a year is when I think we started using the signs more consistently.

I finally decided to purchase volume 1 of the Signing Time series to see what all the hype was about. Kayla wasn't the only one watching the videos either, Joe and I watched them so we could learn right along with her! I thought the video was great for teaching sign language as Rachel would sign it, the word was printed on the screen, a child's voice said the word and then gave a description of the sign, plus all of the kids throughout the video who were doing the signs too. It was a great way to reinforce the sign by repetition.

My friend Sue has a son who is 4 months younger than Kayla. A few months after I bought that first volume we were talking about sign language (she had also been planning on teaching Harrison ASL and had bought the same pocket-size book I had) She was telling me she had started using some signs with him but he didn't really seem to get it or respond back. I told her about the videos and then had Kayla "perform", "Kayla show Sue 'fish', now can you do 'eat'? how about 'dog' and 'ball'" and she signed them all. Sue was impressed. I told her she could borrow the video and see how Harrison liked it. Within a week Harrison was showing me all the signs he had learned from that first volume. Sue was so impressed with how quickly he picked up the signs that she said she was buying the whole series (at that time there were 6 volumes) and I mentioned we were getting Kayla the rest of the series too. Eventually 2 more of our friends borrowed that first volume to see for themselves if their kids would also pick up the signs - and of course within about a week or two they were also signing.

By the time Kayla was 20 months old she knew 14 signs, while not a huge vocabulary for that age, it was exciting for us. I wish we had started the videos much sooner! While she knew these signs she wasn't really using them to communicate with us - she would sign them while watching the videos, or if we said the word, but didn't seem to initiate it much on her own.

Then came the day we were at the commissary. We were in line for the register and she was sitting in the cart. All of a sudden she signed "dog". I had a quizzical look on my face wondering why she would be signing that as I knew there weren't any dogs in the store. I thought maybe I misunderstood her and she wasn't signing at all, but she did it again so I casually looked around me. Then I spotted it. There was a display of dog food with a dog's face all over the bags. I can't tell you how I excited I was to realize she recognized and signed dog on her own without any prompting from me. I wanted to scream and cheer and jump up and down in that store! But I contained myself. I leaned in close and told her "yes that is a dog - good job" and how proud I was. I couldn't wait for Joe to get home so I could tell him what she did.

By the time she was 2 years old she knew over 50 signs and was using them to communicate with us - signing things in books we looked at, as a plane flew over us, asking for a cracker. This was such a big deal to us because she wasn't very verbal at all and this helped tremendously in being able to "talk" to her.

I remember going out with Kayla and she would usually end up signing "thank you" to someone for something...most people thought she was blowing them a kiss! I explained that she was signing "thank you" and usually they would respond with "wow she knows sign language?" I used any opportunity to spread the word about these videos and that was usually a great conversation starter!

She did start to vocalize words along with her signs (which by the time she was 3 she knew over 100 signs -thanks to all 13 volumes that we now own!) and eventually she stopped using the majority of the signs. We still watch the videos and she'll still sign sometimes, but it's mostly verbal words now. I'm so thankful to Signing Time though for helping us learn a new language that enabled us to communicate with each other.

There's a new set of DVDs coming out soon and you can bet we'll be buying those too!

I've posted a couple of video clips of Kayla singing and signing to songs on one of the volumes - you can see how much she enjoys these! If you weren't reading my blog then you can see these here and here.


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20 comments:

Corey~living and loving said...

Great post! I love signing. my first college roomate was hearing impaired. I learned a lot from her.
I have big intentions to teach my daughter sign, but only did about 3 words. She picked them up fast, but shortly there after she became so verbal, I just dropped it. I wish I hadn't. :(

Signing Time Fan said...

Signing Time really is a great product. What a great post. We still recommend Signing time to everyone even if they call us about other products! Thanks for the great story.

Peach said...

I've heard nothing but fabulous reviews of Signing Time and wish we'd had it almost a dozen years ago when our oldest was young.

We used some basic signing along the way, but Signing Time is so wonderful. I'll start recommending it to new parents, too.

Nisa said...

I remember seeing the videos of Kayla signing. They are adorable. I also remember how excited I was when Rachel from the Signing Time videos actually left you a comment here on your blog. That was really nice of her.

Tracey said...

Good post, hon. I'll definitely recommend it to any new moms!

Linda said...

That really is amazing Michelle. From what I've heard other people say, it isn't easy to learn sign language. I'm so proud of Kayla for learning so much. It sounds like a valuable tool. Good for you for sharing it with others and spreading the word. I am in continued admiration of you. You're a very special mom.

Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

I didn't know about the new DVDs! That is exciting - my kids LOVE Signing Time! Wonderful, educational and very fun DVDs. Keeps even the youngest one's attention.

amy flege said...

we love our baby singing times.. mayson smiles as soon as she hears the prompt music..

Beck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

We love Signing Times, too! I recently saw a segment on our local PBS station and I was so happy to see that she has been picked up! What would we have done without Rachel Kolman--she taught the whole family to sign.

Beck said...

Doh! We're big fans of SIGNING TIME, too. I've put off buying the videos forever, and now I feel like it might be too late... :(

Sue said...

That's great. I've heard a lot of good things about signing for babies. I have a pocket sized book too. Alysa used to know a couple signs. I never thought about videos. It will be exciting to do it again with #2.

Julie Julie Bo Boolie said...

I love singing time too.. we have deaf neighbour and I love being able to talk to him even if I have the syntax wrong. Honestly, I love it more than the kids do (though Rachel's songs at the end often make me burst out bawling and I have to hurry and turn them off before she starts singing.. especially Shine)

Christina said...

You have no clue how jealous I am, I so wish we could use signing times....
Great post!

Overwhelmed! said...

That's so great that the Signing Time videos have been so instrumental in Kayla learning so much sign language. Go Kayla! She's such a smart little girl. :)

Jessica said...

I love hearing success stories about signing, we've been working on it with Joey and are still waiting to see the first sign come from his little hands. Thanks for sharing your story!

T*mmy said...

I did notice when I met ya'll the sign communication between Joe and Kayla...I think it is a wonderful way to communicate...I went back and watched the video's again...Kayla has a sweet little singing voice...and is the most precious child!!
:)

smileymamaT said...

I love your success story. That's fantastic! I remember teaching my little brother his ASL alphabet, I was 11, he was 6, and he learned it in one evening. Kids absorb so fast! I wish someone had taught us words. I'm still learning. What a nice program.

Mayhem And Miracles said...

Hi, Michelle! I'm sorry I've been so sporadic in coming over here lately - we have had the sick bugs all over the place here and snuck out of town for a few days. I had such good inentions of writing that e-mail, but so far I haven't spent long enough on my computer. Anyway, I love this! I have two deaf cousins and have recently been thinking about a fun way to start introducing my kids to some sign language so they can communicate at reunions and such. (Also for myself to brush up on things. It's been a long time since I've seen them too and I've forgotten so much.) I can't wait to order some. I also wanted to say thanks for your sweet comment on my latest post. It wasn't so easy to put out there and I still question whether it was wise, but I have felt such a peace about things today. I appreciate you.
P.S. Love the little one! He/she is a handsome/beautiful little jumping bean!

Karen said...

Dear Michelle, I'm heading off tomorrow to Sydney, but didn't want to leave without wishing you a wonderful and blessed birthday, may you be blessed in so many ways, wonderful surprises, things that warm your heart! xxx