Thursday 27 April 2017

Why I love baby signing!

Guest post by Hannah Lindahl – Little Signers Club Leader for North Nottingham

As a ‘Baby Signing’ teacher I see, and am truly honoured to be a part of, countless occasions when the little people realise that they can communicate with the big people. The smiles on those tiny faces as the grown ups exclaim praise and joy as the little one shows that he is enjoying the ‘BUBBLES’ or that she would like to sing the song one ‘MORE’ time.

We all know that being a parent is a wonderful job but we also all know that at times it can be really hard work! Unfortunately, after approximately 9 months of baking, these tiny little beings are thrust into our lives with no instruction manual and no ‘standard issue’ crystal ball.

So when the tears start it’s a case of trial and error – a guessing game until a suitable solution (milk, a clean nappy or maybe just a cuddle) can be found.
Having embarked upon the ‘signing journey’ with my own children, I know just how invaluable having a method of communication with your child can be at times like this.  Seemingly endless tears from a frustrated, red faced, angry baby can be simply replaced with a gesture, indicating easily and succinctly that ‘MILK’ is required.

Which in itself is fabulous, amazing, and less stressful for everybody involved - but what if it was more than just signing? …….

One morning, when my smallest bean was approximately 9 months old, we took her older sister to nursery. At this time, the sign of the moment was most definitely ‘DOG’ , frantically signed at every passing husky, every mutt in a book and even in response to the dog barking next door! So safe to say that small bean was delighted  to see that there was a dog outside the nursery building, secured to the fence waiting patiently for it’s owner to return. Cue a happy child and a lot of excited signing for ‘DOG’!

And then our day continued pretty much the same as any other day. With big sister at nursery we were able to enjoy some ‘mummy and baby’ time and we passed the next few hours quite happily.

And then it was time to pick up big sister. We got ready, I explained where we were going and we got into the car. And as we drove towards the nursery I noticed something absolutely extraordinary – she was signing ‘DOG’!  We were not even there yet but she remembered?! She’s ONLY 9 months old – surely babies are not that clever? Oh, but they are! 6 hours after the original event, this tiny little person was showing me that she remembered what we had seen and she was excited about the prospect of a repeat encounter!

And it didn’t stop there – on arrival there was sadly no dog to be seen, which instead of upsetting her just resulted in a confused face and some signing ‘WHERE’?

And this was it – this was my BOOM, light bulb, WOW moment.  I already knew signing was fantastic at allowing my child to tell me if she would rather have a cup of ‘WATER’ or a drink of  ‘MILK’ , but at that moment I realised that it was so much more - She was now able to actually show me what she was thinking!

And that’s the incredible thing – even at this young, delicate age, when people assume they just sit and play and cry and sleep, babies are so capable and clever and able. The synapses in their brain are developing at breakneck speed and giving them the ability to think and question and process what they are seeing and learning. And all of the learning and new experiences just work to encourage more synapse development and new connections.

It’s like a vicious circle – but not vicious at all! – in fact quite the exact opposite! – A wonderful circle of development and encouragement and learning and bonding. And by signing they allow you a sneak peak into this world, like peering through a little skylight into their minds and seeing what wonderful ideas and thoughts are zooming around in there!

Signing with little people – why wouldn’t you do it?