I wanted to take a moment to thank you and share the success we have had from using your DVD series.
Growing up I was always fascinated by sign language and bought my first ASL dictionary when I was seven years old. I demanded my mom help me learn this “secret hand language.” I had never met a deaf person before and wouldn’t meet one or see sign language in action until college. We learned a few signs that stuck, but I lost a lot of what I learned from lack of practice.
Marc, Jillian, Arianna & Ezekiel
When I moved to Jacksonville, Florida for college I was introduced to my first taste of deaf culture. I even had the chance to play soccer with a deaf goalie who revived my love affair with sign language and gave me my sign name. It didn’t hurt that he was incredibly handsome!! :) After taking two courses in American Sign Language I was hooked, but, again, lost most of my knowledge when I moved to Orlando after college.
My on again off again love affair with my “secret hand language” came full circle when I got married and moved to Saint Augustine. Living near the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind made it easy to remember signs and encouraged me to start practicing again. However, even in my new city I found it challenging to keep knowledge long term. Also educating myself from books and YouTube videos weren’t as fun as watching your DVDs, as I would later learn.
Then my baby girl was born. I knew from all the exposure I had from sign language in the past the benefits of using sign language with her while she was young. I bought baby sign books and looked for as many resources as I could to help my new baby communicate with me. Though most of my family encouraged basic signs, they were skeptical of my enthusiasm and how far I wanted to take our signing. Mostly they were fearful of babysitting a baby who was speaking a language they didn’t know. Funny, that must be how most infants and toddlers feel about hanging out with us!
Around 10 months old our baby started to sign a few signs back to us. Milk, water, more, and all done were pretty regular signs for her and we felt really successful in our attempts to help her. Then we found your DVD’s around her 1st birthday and they made her signing expand by leaps and bounds. We noticed that Baby Signing Time would teach her a new sign that she would start using and then a few days later she would say the word. Words and signs we weren’t even trying to teach her she would start using. It was amazing. It was also extremely helpful to see how other babies would sign the signs “wrong” so we could better understand Arianna when she tried to sign her new signs to us.
She is now 26 months old and signing is a normal part of our lives. When she is shy she doesn’t quit communicating she simply signs what she wants. Family members who were intimidated by her signing have now embraced it and enjoy learning signs with her. Our biggest success came while we were at Chik-Fil-A. My daughter was chewing on a french fry when she noticed another child had ice cream. She signed to me “Ice Cream.” I shook my head and signed, “No, you eat more chicken.” She sighed heavily, dropped her french fry and popped a nugget in her mouth. It was our first conversation! I was elated!!
In our community I don’t have to fear that all of our hard work won’t last because of lack of practice. Learning a lot of toddler signs has even allowed me to communicate better with the deaf mothers we meet at play grounds. Nothing too major, but I was able to alert a mother that her daughter was crying on the slide by signing to her from across the park. All signs I relearned from watching your signing DVDs with my daughter. She is encouraging me to learn the signs for your songs. We are working on the A is for Alex and Alligator song to go with the Signing Time Theme Song I know. When she is tired of being in her shopping cart or being at a restaurant I can sign those songs and buy myself another 15 minutes. Hopefully with your app I’ve downloaded I can learn more songs quickly.We are excited to continue going through the DVD series as she advances. We are expecting our second baby any day now and I can’t wait to start the process of signing with our new little one. I think it will help our babies bond as siblings.
OH! And let me end this long, ranting email with this encouragement. On rainy days or when I’m dealing with pregnancy sickness we’ll watch DVDs. Elmo (the toddler version of crack) is repeatedly out ranked by Signing Time. I’d say about 2 out of 3 times Arianna will ask for Signing Time over Elmo. Which makes me very happy!!
Thank you so much for helping me teach my daughter my “secret hand language” and giving us the best, most entertaining way of learning a second language together!!
Our first experience with using the manual alphabet with spelling was when our oldest daughter was in second grade. Her teacher was fluent in ASL and he would use signs in the classroom to enrich his teaching. Each week he would have the students practice their spelling words by using the manual alphabet to decode each one (try it now). Then they would finger spell each word. This was one of our daughter’s favorite homework assignments!
Download and decode our spelling list
When we discovered that our second daughter had a speech problem, we included the use of ASL in her Individual Education Plan (IEP). It helped that her Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) is a huge fan of Signing Time! Each week her SLP would spend time saying and fingerspelling her spelling words with her. They would also use signs to help her with her speech word list. Since finger spelling is tactile, it uses a different part of the brain than speech. Signing and finger spelling helps her remember sounds and letters more easily, so she doesn’t get as frustrated. For example, if she gets stuck on a word while reading out loud, she uses finger spelling to focus on the sound of each letter until she can sound it out. She was able to have the same second grade teacher as our oldest daughter. Not only did she excel is spelling, but her overall speech skills improved as well in this ASL rich classroom.
With our son, who is currently 3, we use the manual alphabet to practice his letters. We have the Volume 5 ABC Signs Flash Cards and we use those to help him see the letter, say the letter and sign the letter. We are also teaching him how to finger spell his name.
My name is Alyson Darvas and I live in Colchester, CT a transplant from my hometown of Queens, NY. My son Jordan was born in December of 2009 after a 6 ½ year struggle to conceive. I had waited so long for this child, I was determined to bond and communicate with him early on. While researching methods of communication, I came across the Signing Time program. I had heard of the theory of signing with infants but had never seen it used in practice. I was skeptical but willing to try. What unfolded was nothing short of incredible! When Jordan was about 9 months old, I began with Baby Signing Time Vol. 1 and we watched a little bit every day. I would use the signs whenever I spoke to him and I could see after about a month, he would start to try and do the signs he was seeing. I would run to get him whatever he would sign. My husband Cris would laugh and say, “you don’t have to give him something every time he signs it” and I would say “Yes, but it is important that he knows I understand him!”
I don’t think Cris was fully convinced this was possible until, video camera in hand, he stumbled upon Jordan, sitting in his room alone at between 10 – 11 months. Jordan was paging through a book of nursery rhymes, when he came across a mother and child and paused to sign “baby”. While watching our son sign unprompted we understood that HE understood – he was truly communicating! We couldn’t wait to get the rest of the set of Baby Signing Time DVDs, we were just soaking up all this knowledge together as a family. He loved to watch Rachel and so did I! When we had learned all of Baby Signing Time, we quickly added Signing Time to our collection.
When Jordan was at the pediatrician for his one year well visit, he was signing in her office. When I mentioned it to her, she replied, “Do you know that could delay his speech?” You could hear the rhetorical needle on the record scratch, “Wait, HUH?” Talking about it on the ride home with my sister, I decided that, if this was to be true, it didn’t matter if his speech was delayed because we were communicating and that was all that mattered to me. But when I got home and did further research, to find out how truly beneficial sign language would be to his language and over all development, I was really upset that this doctor was conveying misinformation. I promptly found another pediatrician and continued signing.
I had always known that I needed to work with children somehow, but my background was in jewelry production and graphic design, how would I make that happen? It was upon offering a friend the information on the Signing Time website, that I stumbled upon the Academy and a lightbulb went off. I knew this worked; I had the evidence right there before me. I immediately became certified as a Baby Signing Instructor and then quickly worked on my advanced certification upgrade by taking classes online. Like my son, I could not get enough.
Through my business, Little Smarty Hands, I will be offering Play and Sign classes in the Southeastern CT area. I also continue to create jewelry charms designed around children’s hand, foot or fingerprints. My business motto is “Smart Hands = Smart Minds.” It is my hope to reach out to professionals, like my previous doctor and set about trying to increase awareness of using this method to communicate with children of all abilities. Jordan started talking at about a year, a lot of babble mixed with simple words like mama, dada. By 20 months his vocabulary seemed to increase by the minute, far surpassing that of his non-signing peers, and far more articulately than some older than him. Not only was he saying words like “scrumptious”, I could understand him perfectly and he was speaking in sentences. At 2 ½, he will still ask me, “how do I sign this mommy?” I can see how being able to convey his needs and have them met has made him a very secure and confident child and has given us a gratifying bonding experience that is indescribable. I can’t control the fit he throws over wanting the cookie before dinner or wanting to bring home every crayon he sees, but at least I know what it is he wants and it makes these tantrums very short lived.
We were thrilled to be able to get on stage with Rachel recently and sign the Feelings song. It was truly amazing to get to shake her hand and thank her in person for having such a huge part in changing my life and shaping my son’s. There are no other words to express the feelings of gratitude we have for Rachel Coleman and Signing Time, but for a simple “thank you”, said with an open palm extended from the chin.
“When my kids were babies, I started to teach them sign language,” says Jennifer Hanes, DO, a mom of a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son, an emergency physician, a certified forensic physician, and the founder of Empowered Medicine, PLLC, in Austin, TX. “Most people stop using sign language when their kids begin to talk. I found that continuing to sign has tremendous benefits for toddlers—and beyond. For example, when my kids were toddlers and we were at a park, if one of them was misbehaving, I could sign to them to stop, rather than calling them out in front of their friends. Also, my kids were sometimes able to sign things before they were quite able to say them. This eliminated frustration and prevented tantrums.
“I think that knowing sign language also helped my kids learn to read. Sign language is very logical, and it helped them to learn their letter sounds and how to spell. For example, some words, such as park, are finger-spelled. So to sign park, you actually sign the letters P, A, R, K. My son could spell ‘park’ at a very early age.
“Sign language is very easy to learn. I love the series Signing Time. The children learn signs, and they also learn how to use them together in a sentence. The series is filled with great lessons from spelling practice to how to set the table properly.
“One day when my daughter was five years old, she was signing with a deaf girl at the playground. The little girl’s mom was very touched, and I was so proud!”
Rachel Coleman, Emmy-nominated host of Signing Time, shares fun, heartwarming and inspirational stories from Signing Time families. Watch all 5 videos below – and share your Signing Time stories with us. Visit www.signingtime.com/stories
DAY 1: Pictures from Japan, a Mother’s Day card for Rachel, and some surprising mementos!
DAY 2: A deaf grandfather reaches out to Rachel, a letter from a mom with a child who has a speech delay, how signing helped doctor’s diagnose an 18-month old with diabetes, and why Rachel keeps ALL of the letters and emails with your stories.
DAY 3: A big thank you from a deaf mom of a hearing child, and “My mom is my hero” school report from 11-year-old Leah.
DAY 4: Touching letters from two mothers of children with Autism.
DAY 5: Hand-made gloves and other mementos that fans have made for Rachel, a letter from a mom who is losing her hearing, and a story from a set of grandparents about how Baby Signing Time brought joy to their family during their granddaughter’s struggle for life.