Insights from the 2012 trial classes and hopes for 2013

Happy New Year!

Thank you to all those who attended the trial classes which were held for the last two months or so. Thank you in particular for your ongoing support and invaluable feedback. There was a wonderful mix of participants ranging from 5 months to 13 months. It was nice to see how each of them progressed with their signing. The mum of the 5 month old baby noticed that her daughter understood the “light” sign when she was using it at home.
In preparing for the classes, I have come to appreciate my mother-in-law as a talented and experienced educator. She is a strong supporter of teaching simple signs and gestures to babies because of the difficulties she encountered in communicating with her son. He was late talker, and without other methods of communication, both mother and son often ended up in tears. My mother-in-law thought signing was a brilliant idea when she observed Isabella, my daughter, (when she was close to 2) was talking to everyone using signs she had learnt. Since we lived overseas at the time, we couldn’t visit each other very often but even she could understand what Isabella was trying to say and they were quickly communicating through signs. Albeit, my mother-in-law does know a little bit of sign language. It just shows how universal a language simple signs can be. It is so natural. Signs taught in the classes are just an extension of what we already do!
Now that we have returned home, she is instilling more wisdom to my husband and I as parents, for example, just by us watching how she skillfully guided our daughter in puzzle play. Each “Sign, Say and Play™” class contains a parent education segment with concepts drawn from Drs Linda Acredelo and Susan Goodwyn’s “Baby Mind’s” book on broader children development topics, one of which is the importance of puzzles. Puzzles are great for developing spatial awareness and concentration span in children. With learning by trial and error, doing puzzles also teaches children to be patient and persistent. I might add children’s language development and educating parents to follow a child’s lead to the list. Why? Instead of “showing” (doing the puzzles for the children when they are struggling), sometimes giving verbal cues is all a parent needs to do. That way, the child learns terms such as: ” upside down”, “turning around”, “corner” and “edge”. And most importantly the children can have ownership of their accomplishment of finishing the puzzle “all by themselves”. This is precisely what my mother-in-law demonstrated.
The trial group had a discussion about the ASL based signs and baby friendly gestures which are taught in the program as opposed to Auslan. Whilst the group understood that the program was created for short-term use, specifically with hearing babies and toddler’s in mind, with gestures which can easily be learnt by children with limited fine motor skills prior to their speech taking over, the group also found it useful that Auslan was incorporated into the program. As a result, participants in future classes will be shown the Auslan signs for words that are introduced through the program.
December has been a busy month for marketing the classes which I hope to deliver during the school term in 2013. Baby Signs Canberra attended the Tuggeranong Festival. The traffic was quite low on the day. However, the highlight would have to be the case of the collapsing gazebo when a gush of wind caused the Goliath of a gazebo next to mine to fall on mine, collapsing it in an instant. As you can see I lived to tell the tale. I am very grateful for the help that was provided to me by the stallholders around me and some friends who happened to drop by to help me with reconstructing the bent structure.
The 2013 “Sign, Say and Play™” classes are proposed to be held on Saturdays commencing 2 March and the “More Sign, Say and Play™” classes will be held the week commencing 11 February. Enrolments are still open so come along to either.

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