Sign4Baby Sign & Play Class {Review}

My Background in Signing
Gorilla
My first signing experience was in the 3rd grade (my FAVORITE year of school out of the lot of them). My teacher had (has... I'm sure) a deaf sister who taught at a school for the hearing impaired and wanted to set us up with pen pals for the year. She assured us that if we kept at it and learned a few signs we might just get the chance to meet our pen pals in person at the end of the school year.

So as the months passed we learned the alphabet, learned how to say "my name is" and learned a few more signs including the Pledge of Allegiance and America the Beautiful. And as promised we were able to meet our deaf pen pals at an ice cream social at the end of the year. It was pretty fun being able to actually practice our signs and it was pretty funny when we got quizzical looks and our pen pals grabbed our hands to show us the correct way to sign. Out of all that was learned that year the only thing I remember is the alphabet and how to say "My name is".

My First Experience with E
But because learning sign language had such an impact in me at a young age and sparked such an interest I knew I wanted to use this form of communication with my children. So even before my son was born I started trying to learn simple signs. My sister in law passed on some baby sign language books that I read from cover to cover, practicing every once in a while and I received a Baby Einstein sign language DVD for my shower from my husband's cousin.

One of E's favorites when he was younger - Music
But by the time E came I was so exhausted from just figuring out the whole how to be a mother thing that I didn't start regularly signing with him until he was about 6 months old. Sure I signed nurse/milk and diaper change every once in a while before that but never with any real excitement for him to learn. As he got closer to the one year mark I knew I needed a better way of communicating with him so we started signing more frequently.

Bear
And we started to go to Sign4Baby's Signing Story Time at the local libraries. E would get excited to play with the other kids in class and loved listening to the stories and dancing to the songs. At the end of each story time was a special treat. He got to play with the bubbles Joann blew to the kids! That just made everything even better. Going to the story time events helped me expand my signing vocabulary and in turn I was able to teach E more and more signs. And between 15-18 months his signing vocabulary (and speaking vocabulary) exploded. He would sign when he didn't know a word to let me know what he wanted. And sometimes he'd sign along with whatever he was saying to give greater emphasis on the word. Communication was getting easier!

I joined Sign4Baby's playgroup on Meetup.com so I could keep up with all of the fun signing events. I started seeing a monthly zoo trip included on the calendar so we started to go with the group to the zoo to learn more signs as well. Since E is very interested in animals I knew this would go over well. And it did! He loved learning more animal signs just as much as I loved teaching him. 

My Experience with M and Sign4Baby Review
Time/Watch
When M came into our lives I knew I wanted to sign with her as well. But I wasn't quite sure when to start. A few months ago I saw a special being run by Sign4Baby. If we signed up for classes by May we could get 12 classes for the price of 6! Now that's an awesome deal! I talked about the deal with my mother in law (she was already a fan of Sign4Baby's facebook page and had seen it also) and she surprised me by purchasing the classes as a gift to M.

So at the end of May, just shy of turning 6 months, we started our Sign4Baby sign classes at Java Mama. In the first six week session we learned about:
  • animals
  • family
  • colors
  • feelings
  • play time
  • weather
And two weeks into the second six week session we've already learned about first signs and food. And a representative from Happy Baby even came in to help teach us about healthy eating for baby and toddler. We're going to be learning about bath and body, diapering, getting dressed and meal time in the coming weeks!

The class is not only fun and educational but holds M's interest the whole time! Between reading stories, talking about the signs and how to incorporate them into our everyday lives, and singing fun songs (sometimes getting up and dancing too!) it's hard NOT to learn what Joann is teaching. And I'm pleased to announce that M has signed her first sign! She's starting to sign dog regularly. She has been showing an interest in the milk sign as well if she wants to nurse. She giggles, laughs and starts pulling at me when I ask her and do the sign. So I know she's catching on!

I definitely know I couldn't have taught my children all they know about sign language without Joann's help. I have come to find that the structure of the classes is a must for anyone who wants to teach their children signs. I know from experience how hard it was to teach E signs with just signing story time and meetups alone. And with the aid of songs, books and other educational tools, Joann provides all of the resources a caregiver would need to aid in the development of their child's vocabulary and communication skills.

Dance!
By adding the classes with Joann to our arsenal of sign language tools I know that M's sign vocabulary will not only improve but will more than likely start developing sooner than her brother if not only for the fact that she's seen other mamas and babies sign every week since she was 6 months old. Plus after these 12 weeks of classes I can continue to learn from Joann since I won 6 MORE weeks of classes through the Baby Bump and Beyond's blog! I'm hoping to wait a bit before jumping right back in since our schedule has been very full this summer but can't wait to start again.

I recommend Joann's Sign4Baby classes to anyone who wants to take the next step in teaching their child sign language. She is just a wonderful educator who not only gives you the signs but teaches you the skills to best present the signs to your child so that they watch and learn from you. And I cannot wait to see what M's going to sign next! Below are a few photos from our last Sign & Learn session of the first 6 weeks. All families and children photographed agreed to have their photo posted on my blog :)



Snacks are always welcomed
Exploring is mandatory
Plenty of toys to aid the children in learning
Building blocks ... a must-have sign in this house

Colored scarves help aid in teaching the colors of the rainbow


Parents are encouraged to sign along

M LOVED watching Joann sign and sing

2 comment(s) with love:

Mrs. Bear said... Reply To This Comment

I really wish I would have done this with my daughter. It looks like so much fun!

I miss all the meet-ups and playgroups with the little ones.

Laura Lohr
www.lauralohr.com

Signing Mama said... Reply To This Comment

I LOVE that I googled images for Sign4Baby and all these pictures came up Danielle! I just added a bunch of pins on Pinterest and am so excited that I have some awesome worthy pins of me signing to post! THANK YOU!