I signed with both of my children from about the age of 6 months on. I had learned about infant and toddler signing when I was an assistant teacher in a toddler room 10 years ago, and I loved using it as a communication tool with both of my kids. Both of them were able to communicate with me before they had the vocal ability to do so, and I will still sign with my oldest if we need to communicate discretely.
We were very excited to have the chance to bring Susan C. Hagel, MS, CTRS (above) and creator of Small Talk to our space for classes. She has been teaching for over 30 years and has offered Small Talk baby sign language classes for the last 12 years. The class in January was the first time she had taught in the South metro ever, so we were excited to have her. I attended the class, and was surprised at what I learned. Some major take aways:
- The parents need to be the primary teacher of signs: Some parents are starting to rely on DVDs to teach their children signs. However, signing is a communication tool, and if a baby or toddler is going to learn how to use the signs to convey ideas and feelings with a caregiver, they need to learn and practice with their caregiver.
- Susan did a great job of helping tell the parents how to best start signing with their babies based on their ages. This underscores how very helpful in-person classes can be; the information can be tailored to everyone’s needs and everyone has a chance to ask the questions that apply to their own situation.
- Some of those signs are confusing, and it’s immensely helpful to have an expert show the sign, explain how it’s done and even explain how you can remember what the sign is. Even a month later, I still remember the sign for grape, something I did not know before!
- The book Susan gives with her class has around 60 signs; one of the most important things I learned what how to introduce signing, with what sign, and when to introduce more signs. I know looking at books with a bunch of signs can be overwhelming, so getting expert advice on starting off hopefully will make the process easier and less frustrating for everyone involved.
The next Small Talk class at BabyLove is next month. For more information and to register, check out the class page on our website.