Baby Sign Language for Better Communication

 Meet Paula Baker, Signing Time Academy Instructor

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Almost three years ago I found out I was going to be a mother, and naturally, I began to research parenting techniques in hopes of raising a well rounded human. Down I went into the rabbit-hole and quickly discovered that parenting advice is incredibly detailed and varied. However, one piece of advice that remained constant was the need for communication. A child’s desire to be understood is tremendous, almost as important as his/her desire to be loved. Being able to express basic needs, wants, and emotions is so difficult for a non-verbal, and barely functional infant. And even though toddlers are more functional, they are no better at expressing their feelings…they are just better at being heard. “Being heard” is really just a euphemism for throwing a tantrum.

When I finally delivered my daughter, the hospital in which I gave birth told me about their practically free baby sign language course. A little alarm went off in my tired (so tired) brain reminding me that communication is key to a child’s development. When my daughter was six months old, I started taking her to Baby Signing Time classes, and she loved every minute! Within six weeks she was signing a few baby-centric signs, and by ten months, she could sign fifteen different words.

Now my daughter uses American Sign Language (ASL) to request Baby Signing Time videos and songs! Due to her ability to express her needs, wants, and emotions she rarely tantrums and when she does, I am usually able to calm her down within a minute’s time.
As for myself, I have discovered a passion for ASL that lines up with my passion for lifelong learning. I love ASL for its ability to convey so much information with so few signs, for its pragmatic grammar, for its overall applicability to both hearing and non-hearing children, and most importantly, for the way it enabled a special bond between my daughter and me. We attend classes together and watch content from the Signing time digital library, MySigningTime.com. My 19 month old daughter and I are the most proficient signers, and sometimes it feels like we have a secret language the rest our family isn’t tuned in to!

Due to these amazing experiences, I now have a desire to help other families communicate with their hearing children long before they are verbally able. Now I want to teach! The Signing Time Academy program is perfect for me, personally, because I love to sing and be silly with young kids, and I have taught children before in a variety of settings. Also, I figured that my daughter already requires me to watch all of the content (little dictator that she is) so why not dedicate myself to ASL and the development of children? Once I discovered that Two Little Hands also provides free lessons to deaf and hearing impaired children, and families, I knew that this was the program for me.

Now, I plan to provide lessons to hearing children through childcare centers, as well as developmental training to the adults who run these centers. I’d also like to teach first responders some critical ASL vocabulary. Having had a few ambulance rides myself, I know how incredibly isolating the event can be. I can’t imagine not being able to communicate in my preferred language while I was also in pain and scared. Having better prepared first-responders predicts a better patient-outcome for hearing impaired individuals. In this same vein, I also would like to provide training to local police officers so that both victims, and arrested individuals can receive better benefits from their law enforcement agencies. No one should be left without communication during a legal situation, even if the communication is limited. Having a few trained officers in a rural state like mine (Idaho) would mean a lot for my community.

I feel that, with this kind of training, I could help so may families lead better lives while also earning some extra-income for my family. I see myself using this training in so many aspects of my life and career, and really cannot wait to get started!

Paula Baker, Signing Time Academy Instructor, Meridian, Idaho  

 

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What is the Signing Time Academy?

The Signing Time Academy is the educational division of Two Little Hands Productions, creators of the award-winning programming, Signing Time, Baby Signing Time, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, and SignIt ASL. Our mission is to bring the benefits of ASL and active learning to children of all abilities through Certified Instructors who offer classes, products, and personal support to parents and teachers in their communities.

Our Instructors offer parent workshops, baby sign language classes, teacher training, home parties and free presentations. Would you like to make a difference? Find out more about the Academy here, or contact our Academy Specialist, Kelly Konieczki at kellyk@twolittlehands.com.