Edit: Congratulations to SARA for winning the Baby Signing Time DVD!
At 8-months-old my son made my mama dreams come true when he uttered ma-ma-ma over and over again for a period of time. Within months though, and as his first birthday and beyond came and went, no more legitimate “words” came out and I began to worry.
Many in my life, including my pediatrician, said I shouldn’t worry as surely he was just a late bloomer. But by age two-and-a-half, I felt I was running out of time to get him help (and also a bit of pressure from what society deems “normal”) and so we delved into the world of Early Intervention.
While our experience was very good, I look back and wish I had thought of other ways to help him. My son, hitting developmental milestones in every other category right on time, was frustrated at his inability to communicate his needs to us. In turn, my husband and I were just as frustrated with not being able to understand him.
Enter baby sign language. A decade ago, when my son was born, baby sign language was just beginning to boom and I saw a few articles here and there regarding it. I tried a few basic signs with him (“more”, “milk”, “thank you”, etc.) and, sure enough, he picked them up and was able to utilize them properly. But I just didn’t pursue it the way I should have. What I would not have given to have the classes that Nuts For Signs provides.
Nuts For Signs offers a variety of services notably their “Parent & Me” classes that are a unique blend of signing education, music and play. This is not a typical mommy & me class – dads are invited too! Each class has a theme, and signs are presented through fun activities such as parachute play, songs, musical instruments, story time, crafts and more! The age appropriate toys/activities rotate each class to fit the theme and to encourage learning through play. Each session concludes with a mini-graduation ceremony and diploma. Their Sing, Sign & Play classes are based off of the award-winning Baby Signing Time® and Signing Time® series of videos featured on Nick Jr. and Netflix.
Founder, Jackie Ciaramella, began signing with her first daughter after reading an article about baby sign language. After 3 months of signing with her daughter, late one night she woke up crying although Jackie had just fed her an hour earlier. Exasperated, she picked her up and said, “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” obviously not expecting an answer, but then her daughter started opening and closing both of her tiny little fists – the sign for “milk!” Soon, sentences using signs were being strung together. As a direct result of all that signing, Jackie’s daughter began speaking before her first birthday, and although her speech was peppered with toddler babble, she picked up new words quickly, not just learning how to say them, but also cognitively aware of their meaning.
The benefits of sign language are astounding. The early years of a child’s life are extremely important, as their brains develop at a very rapid pace.
Research has shown that signing can boost your child’s development by:
- Allowing babies to communicate long before they can speak (as early as 5 months)
- Reducing frustration and tantrums
- Enhancing language and cognitive development (increases IQ scores)
- Promoting parent/child bonding
- Helping preschoolers build vocabulary and early literacy skills
The use of Sign Language has also been shown to benefit children with special needs including, but not limited to, those with Down syndrome, dyslexia, and those on the autism spectrum.
For more information on the benefits of ASL, check out the following resource: Benefits of Signing With Your Child.
At the end of 2013, I had the pleasure of attending a Nuts For Signs class taught by one of the four extremely qualified instructors. (I even borrowed a toddler for my investigative reporting!) My little friend has no trouble warming up as the catchy songs played and a variety of toys were brought out to help illustrate the signs that were being taught. Our instructor for the day, Sofia, was kind and loving. She did a great job getting these young children to listen and participate! It was the last class of this particular session and it was AMAZING (and adorable!) to see these infants signing to their parents. Sofia went above and beyond by purchasing smiley face balloons for each child and presenting them with a personalized graduation “diploma” at the end of the class.
Nuts For Signs offers a variety of locations and class times and the best news is you can attend a free trial class! Nuts For Signs offers classes for ages ranging from 3 months to 5 years of age (Though I’m still trying to convince Jackie to have one for older children too!). I’m confident that this company WILL grow one day to cater to elementary children, like my son, and perhaps even adults. American Sign Language is a wonderful and useful second language to learn.
And here’s a cute little clip of what some of the class looks like:
I encourage you to try a free class or even just jump right in to their Winter Session currently in progress. You will not be disappointed. I cannot say for sure what learning sign language ten years ago would have done for my son, but I would be willing to guess that a lot of headaches could have been saved had he had another way to communicate with his parents for even his most basic wants and needs.
On a personal note, I am so proud of what Jackie has accomplished in the short time she has founded and grown her company. Jackie seized an opportunity to share the success her daughter was having with signing and got serious to share the benefits of Signing with more than just her family and friends. I am proud to support a woman who balances both the desire to be home with her children while helping her family by having her own business. It’s not easy, I’m sure, but what a worthwhile gift she is sharing by providing these classes and trainings to teachers in schools! The other three instructors—Sofia, Jackie A., and Michelle—have also worked hard to become certified Signing instructors and bring their various skills as moms and teachers to each and every class.
And now I have a special treat for you. I had so much fun at the class that I attended, that I just have to give away a DVD of signs I learned in the class to one of YOU! Just follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter link below* and you’ll be entered to win! The winner will be contacted via email. (Everyone is welcome to enter!)
(*Unfortunately, since I’m WordPress.COM the widget will not appear and you *have* to click on the Rafflecopter link to complete the entry options.)
**CLICK BELOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!**
Disclosure: I was asked to write a blog post on behalf of Nuts For Signs and took it upon myself to attend a class so I could see first-hand what one was like. All thoughts and opinions are my own and facts have been provided from the official Nuts For Signs website. I purchased the DVD on my own as a way to bless one of my readers. Pictures are a bit vague because I do not want to show any child’s face (other than my own!) on my blog. But, I promise you they were all adorable AND signing!