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Signing With Babies And Children: April 2009

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Signing - A Valuable Classroom Tool!

My background is in teaching which is what lead me to signing with babies, it's my passion for all things education! When I was teaching I'd use ASL in the classroom as I found it useful in so many ways. I recently received an email from a teacher who started using it in her classroom and I feel it sums up beautifully why we should continuing signing with children even after they learn how to talk! Here is her email:

Laura, I wanted to let you know that I have been using your ABC phonics song in my classroom. I teach 1st grade and many of my students did not know their letters or sounds. When I stumbled across your video on YouTube - I showed it to my class the next day. My students will actually sing the song out on the playground, and one of my really low little guys is able to blend phonemic words if I show him the signs. It's made him feel successful because I can sign (in a sneaky way so the other kids don't notice) and he can blend simple words like 'get', 'cat', 'dog', etc. Now we are working on getting him to connect the sign to the printed letter. I don't know what I would have done with this little guy without your video. (He is performing at a pre-school level 3/4 of the way through 1st grade.) My class really jumped on board with signing and they now know 65 signs (including the alphabet). They will sign to each other, to me, and are teaching their friends in other classes. I love that I can give them directions to get their pencils and go sit at the carpet without saying a word."

So all you teachers out there, I am encouraging you to use signing in your classrooms. You will be amazed at the success you will have!
Please feel free to email me with questions you may have about signing in schools, I now lecture across North America at universities on the topic of using signing to promote literacy in our schools. I can give you tons of info!
By: Laura Berg, Founder, My Smart Hands, 'educating young minds'

Friday, April 17, 2009

Baby with Deaf parents not signing!?

Using Sign language in your household does not in itself guarantee that your child will sign/communicate from a younger age.

Before you react with horror to this statement, let me clarify…:

I recently looked after my 1-year old godson who was not able to sign. He also didn’t speak, other than ‘mamamama’ ‘dadada’ etc. He was really quite an average cute little 1-year old.

The strange thing is that his mother and father are both profoundly deaf and use sign language to communicate!

So why did this boy not sign?

Parents who can speak sometimes have children who (despite there being no medical reason for them not to speak) are delayed in their verbal development.

Teaching a baby about communication (signed and spoken), requires effort and time.

Here are some very important signing strategies:

· Get eye contact

· Using relevant signs/ words

· Repeat the sign/ word as many times within the context as you can

· Make it fun – play games in which the word is used

· Listen/ look for and react to their effort to communicate back to you!

· Praise their efforts, however small

In the case of my godson, his mum and dad have had a very stressful 6 months and I know that they have not had the time or energy to focus on 1:1 communication – at a time when it was very crucial for their son’s language development.

In the short time I had with him, I gave him my undivided attention and we played several ‘signing’ games, using the above guidelines. At the end of the day I had seen him attempting to sign about 3 different words!

This has encouraged me to write down some simple activities everyone can do in their daily routine – which I will publish in my next Blogs.

Please feel free to join my Facebook site “Signing Babies” for more blogs!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Your chance to help a brave little guy, Nathaniel Bayer

I met Nathaniel in a SignShine class when he was 6 months old, vibrant and healthy. Today Nathaniel is fifteen months and, I'm very sad to share, he was recently diagnosed with stage three neuroblastoma (cancer). I have a strong connection with Nathaniel and his parents, they are a dear family and I hold them close to my heart.

In an effort to support the Bayer family during this challenging time, I have organized a raffle fundraiser to help minimize the financial burdens of travel, medical treatments, and other vital needs.
Join with me in this effort. Click here to read more about how to participate in the raffle. Each ticket is $10 (you can buy multiple) and for each ticket you'll have the chance to win one of 5 fabulous items. The winning tickets will be drawn by Nathaniel himself on May 31st and we will post the video on YouTube!

When I asked Steven, Nathaniel's father, for permission to share the story with others, he replied: "If every parent would give an extra hug to their child -- that would make us happy!" And that positive spirit has clearly been passed on to young Nathaniel. Watch Nathaniel's signing in action: he sees an EXIT sign before chemo treatments and then signs BIRD and after the treatment is done.

Nathaniel’s surgery has been scheduled for Thursday, April 16 in New York. We are praying the doctors will be able to remove the tumor without complications and that his recovery will be quick and complete.

With prayers and great hope,
Etel Leit, M.S.
Founder & Owner
Publisher www.BabySignShine.com310.613.3900

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Show Me

A good friend of mine shared a little tip with me about signing with my children.

She used the phrase "show me" instead of "sign" when it came to asking her daughter to sign her needs and wants.

As my own daughter just turned one year old, she is at that stage of many needs and wants.  I am not able to read them and provide for them as readily as I was just months before.  As she is beginning to sign, I find myself wanting to inquire of her needs more.

I then remembered the tip of saying "show me" to replace the word "sign."  

For example:
  • when your child is sleepy and is ready for bed but is crying instead of heading towards her bed, you can say "show me sleep" as you sign "sleep"
  • and even if your child is not yet able to sign "sleep," you are reinforcing the action by saying "show me" and then signing "sleep" followed with words such as "you want to go to sleep," "let's go to sleep" as you continue signing the word "sleep."
  • when you child is hungry and ready to eat but the food can't come fast enough, you can say "show me eat" or "show me more" as you sign "eat" or "more"
  • again, even if your child is not yet able to sign, you can continue to reinforce the action by saying different phrases and signing the focus of need
We can then show our children what signs they can show us!  And as our children learn more signs, we can soon merely use the words "show me" and they will finish the rest with a sign.

Written by Shawna Tran: and

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Signs During Bedtime Routine

I want to share another story with you from a mom whose baby could clearly tell her what was upsetting her through sign. This mom always used sign language during her bedtime routine. First, they would eat dinner, then play a little, bath, book and finally bed. One day her family went out for dinner and got home a little late so they skipped the bath and went straight to story and bed. During the story time her daughter was crying and very fussy. The mom just assumed she was getting overtired. Finally the baby signed ‘bath’, the mother was amazed! The baby had never used the sign ‘bath’ before, the mom had always used this sign in their bedtime routine but the baby had never signed it. The mom figured the baby hadn’t used the sign before because the need hadn’t come up. However, during this night, out of desperation, she used the sign to let her parents know what was wrong. I love this story because you never know if your child is picking up signs or not and this clearly shows that babies do pick up more than we think they do. I highly encourage everyone to begin using signing during his or her bedtime routine! :-)

Laura Berg, Founder; My Smart Hands, 'educating young minds'

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Remember the Speed-Reading Courses in the 90’s?

Remember the speed-reading courses in the 90’s? Well, signing while reading works the same way -- we teach children to read and scan the most important words in a sentence. See if you can find the key words in the following sentence: “Mommy went to the park with her boy and they played in the sand.” Your answer is probably: mommy - park – boy – play - sand. These are exactly the ones we would sign while reading, because these are the words the brain is focusing on. When a child who signs starts reading, he has already developed some of the skills necessary for reading; hence, he is a better reader and will likely enjoy it more!

SignShine hosts many Free Signing Story Times througout the Public Los Angeles Lirbaries: Check our schedule: Click here.