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Signing With Babies And Children: June 2009

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Hidden "Signs"

Feeding my daughter, eating away, and then, a sign- “milk”, another sign- “more.” Where is the milk? It’s in the refridgerator. It was the first time I noticed her signing some thing that was not in view. It was some thing she wanted, but if I didn’t read the signs, the milk would had stayed hidden out of my view and my daughter’s patience would have made itself hidden as well.

It’s amazing how signing really opens a light into your child’s needs and wants, their thoughts and imagination.

Take for instance a number of things that could be mistaken as nothing big but to a child, some thing out of the ordinary and impressionally cool: signing “rainbow” as it appears behind you nearing a cloud on a rainy day, signing “airplane” as you talk on the phone and realize then the fascination developing on your child’s face, and signing “bug” as it crawls ever so cleverly on the ceiling above you.

Your child is opening up all those hidden details in life, and she’s creating a way to also express what’s hidden within herself.

Think of the time your child woke up crying. At the age of only 13 months, she had yet to be able to tell you why she’s crying. As the nightlight seems to dim and the sign takes over in lighting the room, you take your daughter out of her crib to comfort her as she has signed “hurt” while pointing to her mouth. And later at the age of 18 months, a similar night is lit up with the simple signs of “wet” and “diaper.” She would prefer being dry for a good nights’ rest.

Examples such as these remind me of how simple our children's needs and wants are and how simply they can be expressed with the ability to sign as they unveil their hidden, specific wants and needs as well as their specific thoughts and fascinations.

Feel free to comment and leave your own example on the ways signing has helped reveal those hidden wants and needs! We'd love to hear them!

Written by Shawna Tran: and

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What is "baby sign language?"

What is "baby sign language" , what are the benefits, and how do I get started?  

I hope this clip from Baby Fingers will help to clarify for you.

Please visit us at

If you can't directly hyperlink, just cut and paste into your browser: 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Daddy Signs Too!

In honor of Father’s Day, I dedicate this newsletter to all the males in our lives: our little boys, our fathers and, of course, our husbands.

Our family just came back from a long trip to my homeland, Israel This trip will always be special to me because, while in Israel, my little eight-month-old boy showed us his first sign – MILK! We responded with such excitement that he kept signing milk for everything. This is actually the natural next step in signing. Many babies sign their first sign for other words (like calling everything ‘da da’ at first). He now also signs LIGHT, which is close to the sign for MILK, but we know he knows the difference because he looks at the light when he signs LIGHT. How exciting to know what he’s thinking!

It’s usually the moms who initiate signing with their babies/toddlers and the dads who adopt a “wait and see” attitude. Dad usually is impressed when his little one demonstrates a sign or two, but is more likely than Mom to write this off as a fluke. Still skeptical; one magical day, Dad finds that when he least expects it, his baby/toddler starts making odd gestures with his hands. At first Dad is terrified that his little one is on the verge of a meltdown, but he soon realizes that his baby is signing to him. Dad proudly proclaims his child to be a genius and repeats the story to all who will listen. A signing convert is born! If still not convinced, maybe this story from an enthusiastic dad will help to motivate you men out there to start signing with your little one.

“Sofia was not yet talking …but she was a great signer. We had signed "I love you" to her many times, but that was not a sign she was signing back to us. Sean, who is a usually stoic man, called me one day … and I could tell he had a lot of emotion in his voice. He said to me, "I was changing Sofia's diaper and … heard her calling 'Da-Da, Da-Da!'. When I turned to look at her, she was giving me a perfect 'I love you' sign. It was so cool!"

This Father’s Day, I invite all dads along for a signing class. What better gift is there than communicating with your child?

Let the Sign Shine!

Etel Leit, M.S.
Founder & Owner
310.613.3900 |

Saturday, June 6, 2009

More Signing Games to play

Do you dread doing the grocery shop every week with your toddler?
Well, you don't have to - as I realised when my little daughter (15 months at the time) showed me how much fun it could be!

When you have your toddler in your trolley, use his/ her signing ability to play games with the food you pick up.

For example:
Where is the milk?

When choosing the items which your toddler can do the sign for (ie Milk), ask him to help you look out for it as you go past the shelves (Sign WHERE MILK)
Pick up the cheese instead and ask/ sign "Milk?"
This gets your toddler to feel he is helping you choose the shopping and it empowers him also to choose items for himself (within reason!)

Baby can shop - game
I encouraged Hannah to show me the signs for the things she saw on the shelves - and I put in the trolley whatever she signed...this made her sign frantically all the way throug the shop much to the amazement of other shoppers.
Of course you then have to find a way to get rid of all the unwanted items before you get to the checkout!!

See your shopping trolley as a teaching tool and your toddler will not have the chance to get bored!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Do They Know that He Signs?

I remember while first teaching my son sign language, I purchased a signing reference card where I could record which of the 52 signs listed that my son knew.  The purpose was geared towards the benefit of those watching my child.  By looking at the reference card, they would know which signs he knew and therefore would be able to communicate with him more clearly.

Since my family was very supportive in signing and I rarely left my son’s side, I never needed to use this reference card with those around me.  Now years later, I was watching my eighteen month old nephew one afternoon, and I remembered the significance of recognizing the signs that he knew.

For example, he signed “all done” when he wanted out of the high chair which avoided an incident where he would get upset or make himself known by standing on top of the high chair^_^.  I also realized signing was not just for communicating to me what he needed, but it formed a bond between us where he would feel comfortable.  Soon after I took him out of the high chair, he made his way outside and as I heard a plane overhead, sure enough he began putting his arm in the air (for the sign “airplane”) and saying some thing that resembled the sound of airplane.

I said, “yah, that’s an airplane, good signing, Jaxton.”  After watching him that afternoon, I realized that he has become more responsive to me when I see him.  I take for granted that signing not only allows the child to communicate but it allows the adult to communicate with the child.  I was able to tell Jaxton that I understood him.

What are some ways we can let other members in our family or those that watch over our children learn about signing?

  • Before leaving your child, write down a list of signs that you think your child may use while you’re gone.  Leave the list behind after showing the caregiver the signs.
  • Leave a pile of flash cards of which signs your child uses the most that the caregiver could look over.
  • Email the caregiver the words your child knows and some links for online dictionaries (if possible, the direct link to the signed word).

Although there are many different reactions to the words “my child signs,” you may be surprised how well a family member or sitter may receive the information.  Be the one to open the door to the world of American Sign Language as well as creating a special bond between your child and those around him or her through the gift of communication.

Written by Shawna Tran. and

Monday, June 1, 2009

SignShine Gives Back!

Last week I got an invitation to participate at the 3rd Annual Leimert Park Book Fair . What an honor! Leimert Park Book Fair's mission is promoting Literacy among underserved communities in Los Angeles.

Signing is also a great way to emphasize the content of the books you read with a child. If you sign when reading, you are constantly underlining the characters and action you are narrating, which deepens your child’s understanding of the books you and he read.

Research regarding signing with children shows that continuing to sign with speaking children actually acts as an effective tool for expanding kindergarteners’ receptive and expressive English vocabularies, and raises their emergent reading level, too. (Daniels, Marilyn, Dancing with Words: Signs for Hearing Children’s Literacy.)

SignShine™ Gives Back to the community:

Promoting Educational Literacy among underserved Los Angeles communities.
3rd Annual Leimert Park Book Fair
Saturday, June 6th, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Etel's performance: 11:30-12:00
We look forward to celebrate books with you.

Let the Sign Shine!

Etel Leit, M.S.
Founder & Owner