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A Room with a sm00

a brief glimpse inside the mind...

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Because someone asked... and because I love to talk about it...
Recently, someone asked in a comment to one of my posts about Sophie signing why it is we decided to teach her to sign. I don't think I've ever actually posted about why we sign with her, but I've answered the question a few times in comments.

I read a lot about signing with babies while I was pregnant and wasn't sure if it was for us or not, but B's mother knows a bit of ASL and his aunt is an interpreter. I took ASL in college, but don't remember most of it, and I figured this would be a great way to relearn it. The more reading I did on signing with baby, the more determined I was to at least give it a try. We chose to go with ASL instead of baby signing because we already had people in the family who knew ASL and because we wanted the opportunity to take it farther if she really seemed to like it.

Because this question always comes up, I will state right here that Sophie does not have any hearing impairment of which we are yet aware. Some of the reasons we have for choosing to sign with Sophie include increased vocabulary, hands on learning of a second language (yes, ASL is considered an actual language), higher IQ, and an easier time dealing with the terrible twos.

I do believe her vocabulary is much greater because we sign with her. She tries to say the bigger words more often than the smaller words, and I think part of that is because she knows signs for many of the smaller words already, like eat, sleep, and bath. These are all words she'll sign, but might not say. On the other hand, she tries to say words like watermelon, butterfly, and ladybug instead of signing them. She also says/signs principal, imagination, animal, pay attention, and various other words and phrases.

It's impossible to say right now if this will affect her IQ. If it does, great, if not, oh well. I honestly can't see how it will cause any harm. I don't even know if this really will help with the terrible twos. I do know she is able to tell us better why she's crying, if she's hurt or tired or hungry. Tonight is a perfect example: we were all sitting at the table eating dinner and Sophie was happy, eating her dinner and talking to us the entire time. All of a sudden, she went from happy to screaming mad and without her signing, I don't know how long it would have taken us to figure out that she was tired. Even if she would have said the word sleep (which she has from time to time), we wouldn't have been able to understand her because she was screaming so much.

We use the Signing Time video series (which can be found on some PBS stations, check your local guide) and Sophie loves watching this more than any other show (we've tried several others, believe me, nothing is as good as Signing Time). She is constantly asking for Rachel and Signing Time. It's one of the few things that will actually slow her down. She will even try to sing the songs, too. Signing Time has worked very well for us and I would recommend it to anyone trying to learn ASL. Sophie has all the flashcards they have available right now and she will literally beg for these. Unfortunately, she dumps them, and then gets up and winds up stepping on them, slipping and sliding everywhere, so I don't let her play with them on her own very often.

I've gotten quite a few questions about signing with Sophie as well as a little bit of criticism. I can honestly say Sophie appears to genuinely enjoy signing with us, and this is the main reason we've continued signing with her.

I am always more than happy to answer any questions anyone might have about Sophie and signing. :)

In the video, we are going through her flashcards. This was taken Aug 3, 2007, and there is already a huge difference in how much she knows and how well she signs. It's a bit long at 6:46 minutes, but even if just the first minute or so is viewed, many signs can be seen.

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I've been surprised at how much she seems to comprehend. It doesn't appear to be just regurgitation, but I think part of that is because we use the words in sentences explaining what she's doing, too. Take the shaving story from the other day. I cheered her on for having such a great imagination and pretending to shave with her daddy. It's moments like those that teach them the abstract concepts. I'm sure she doesn't have a full grasp, of course.

I wish my memory was a little better at keeping things around for a while. There was something she did today that would fit as another example of this but for the life of me I don't remember what it was. This example might work here: Sophie understands the word silly, and while it's not quite as abstract as imagination, it certainly isn't a tangible, concrete concept. I'm not sure when she figured it out, but she seems to understand when *she* is being silly and will tell me as much. I rarely ever sign silly to her, and when I do, it's after she's already signed it to me. However, she still realizes when she's being silly and signs it all on her own. That's probably one of the signs I love the most.

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One of the things I tell people when they start to criticize is this: Think of all the songs we teach little children that have motions to them - Itsy Bitsy Spider, Pat-a-Cake, I'm a Little Teapot, etc. Children love to sing these types of songs and they learn the motions almost better than they learn the words. Sign language really isn't much different when it comes right down to it. Sophie gets such a kick out of the whole thing.

We've got this little game now that she started and it just cracks me up. She will sign a word and if I don't understand it she keeps signing it and I start guessing. Sometimes she'll try to give me a clue by talking, but she's not always easy to understand. If I guess correctly, she claps and cheers for me. I love it!! ;)

Sophie has been signing since she was about 10 months old. There are one or two signs she did prior to that, I think, but we didn't really focus on signing until she hit 9 months. She never ceases to amaze me, and I love the fact that I have seen her sign evolve as she's grown older.

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I can't imagaine why someone would criticize you. I think it is a great thing you are doing, and I agree that parents don't spend nearly enough time passing knowledge and skills to their children. Oh, and thanks for answering my question about her signing...everytime I read about it I was just so fascinated. I don't have kids yet, and until now, I probably would have never thought of something like this. Since we have been living with my brother and nephew, I have been encouraging Adam to read a book to me every night before bed...he has started to not only do that, but even ask to read to me throughout the day. I wish I could have been around him like this when he was smaller. It really is so important to help your children learn as much as they can, I have a friend who did nothing with her son, not even his ABC's and when he got to kindergarten he was held back a year because his parents didn't take time with him at all.

I think sometimes there are some parents who push too hard and too much and it's not healthy for the kids, and I also think the opposite is true, where some parents don't push at all and the kids are just blobs. I am hoping I can find the middle ground and teach her the things she needs to know to make it through Kindergarten. I wish my education degree was in early childhood now. ;)

I love how easy it is to encourage children to read and how much they wind up enjoying it. Sophie is constantly bringing us books. It's wonderful! :)

I've been meaning to do a post like this for a long time now. Thanks for the prod! :)

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A lot of the criticism comes from the camp of believers it will delay speech, but just as you and I both have seen, the exact opposite is true. These are the type of people who spout off thinking they know everything without actually doing some research on the matter. Meh, phooey to them.

I was watching two girls close to Sophie's age and their second language is Spanish. I can't even begin to tell you how difficult that was because I know nothing in Spanish. Between cries of frustration and baby Spanglish, it wasn't always easy. Thankfully, between the two girls, we could usually get it figured out.

I can't imagine not signing with her now. It has been very useful, to say the least. ;)

Dude, you are such an awesome mom and an awesome person. It just..wow, I'm impressed and in awe. I've been wanting to say this for awhile so here it is.

This is so awesome! She's so darn cute in this whole video and it just kills me! It is FANTASTIC that you are teaching her this and I loooooove that she knows imagination already and the idea of it. I hope she never loses it, it's a great thing to have.

You are both so lucky to have each other.


Thanks. I'm not really awesome, believe it or not, but I do appreciate the compliment. There are things I do as a mother that make me cringe from time to time (swear, fight with B sometimes in front of her, yell, etc.). I'm certainly far from perfect. I just hope I can give her an extra boost in starting life with some of our play time and the signing, you know?

The whole signing thing has gone a lot farther than I ever expected. I figured we would learn basic signs like eat, more, diaper, sleep, done, and that would be it. She has really been the one to guide us in her learning. She just gets so excited. She really gets mad when I won't let her play with her flashcards!!

The imagination song is her favorite. I should see if I can find a clip of it somewhere. It's one of the few songs that will calm her down when she's upset. Whenever I start singing something else, she starts to sing the imagination song.

Thanks so much. :)

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One of the things they talk about on the DVDs is how well the Signing Time program works for children with any sort of disability, from autism to CP to the obvious hearing impaired child.

I do hope she sticks with it, if only to add to a college application. It is certainly a very marketable skill. :)

much like everything else, no matter how wonderful of a parent someone is (like y'all are), there will be criticism from someone who doesn't agree. Luckily she's your kid, and everyone else who criticizes can go to hell


Very true! Thanks, chica. :)


I always thought she signed because she was hearing impaired, but how interesting that you are teaching her to sign.

Yeah, I get that a lot. We're very thankful we don't have any health concerns at all with her... so far. ;)

I was shocked when I told my boss we were trying baby sign and she said it was pointless. We very rarely disagree, but it's usually about baby stuff (like sign and car seat inspections) b/c she had her son 7 years ago and things were that much different. She's by no means an uneducated person and I know she reads books about parenting all the time...just not the current baby stuff b/c it doesn't apply. Anyway, that was a surprise, but the only criticism I've gotten for doing it. Actually most I get discouragement from people who say we aren't doing it enough for it to stick. Talk about unmotivating! Sigh.

How often did you play BST when Sophie was 10 months to a year? I worry about playing it too often, but I'm also worried about not exposing her enough. Also, we can't get Violet to sit through a book (she's 10 months)...any tips??

When Sophie was 10 months I think we were showing it roughly an hour a day. I would play it once in the morning and once in the afternoon. There were a few days I would let it play all day (wow, was I ready to pull out my hair!), but she would be playing with her toys and not sitting and staring. She was, however, paying attention to the music and would randomly sign a word she heard in the music.

I think we show it too much now, but not then. She's to the point where she's begging to watch it all the time, and I hate that. I have to redirect her sometimes because I think she watches it a little too much (just sitting and staring). Although, to her credit, she only sits and stares for part of one episode. I just hate that she does it at all. At least I know she is learning from this, and more than just signs. Rachel teaches all sorts of concepts! :)

I don't remember how old she was when she first started sitting still for a whole book. She still gets all antsy at times. What we used to do was just read a page or two... however many she could handle. The more we did it, the more she wanted us to do it. Now she'll go and grab books for us to read to her. She has a little bin of books she can play with on her own out in the living room with us. She will sometimes pull out books now and sit and read them by herself, and she'll be signing to no one in particular while going through all the pictures. ;)

Awee, she's so cute too. =)

Thanks for showing me/sharing this. I guess you can't see them that clearly, the signing, but yeah, it's like she knows how to sign better than saying the words. That's so cool. I meant that as in a non-offensive way. It's amazing what and how kids' minds work. Very cool.

They always have that thirst for knowledge too, learning new stuff all the time. Guess we get lazy as we grow older.

Sure thing. :)

She signs very similarly to how she talks. A lot of that is due to how much dexterity she has right now. Every day her signing improves, just as every day her speaking improves. She is also able to realize sometimes two hands are necessary instead of just one now. I need to take another video since this is almost two months old now. She amazes me with how much she knows and how well she can sign, especially for someone who isn't even a year and a half old.

What's funny is I've noticed that some of the words she says used to be near perfect but now have extra syllables for some reason. Example here would be bottle. She used to say the word perfectly but now she says bottle-bah and I'm not sure why.

I do love how much children can absorb. It amazes me how quickly she has learned everything. What's even more amazing is she begs for more! I love it! :)

i am very proud of ya and is very impressed
i hope you continue to refine her education through asl
and for those people who wants to critize i dont see why one would do that but honestly i do think asl is the best way to form a communiation bridge between the baby and parents... i myself is deaf and you know asl helped me to learn english. without asl i dont think i will be able to
live nor learn english that good i dont think anyone can imagie that .. neither can i...
and you ever heard of audisim ? here is the definition
Audism is a term used to describe discrimination or stereotypes against deaf or hard of hearing people, for example by assuming that the cultural ways of hearing people are preferable or superior to those of deaf or signing culture, or that deaf people are somehow less capable than hearing people.

Audists can either be hearing or deaf.
that is what these people are when they critizes me, or smoobs for teaching her kid how to sign


You are awesome. :)

Welcome to LJ! Stick around... make yourself comfortable. :)

Hello, I just joined the group of facebook and saw your link there so decided to drop by. I have to say that I also have some people doubting my ideas and what we decide to teach our boy. For us signing has been a blessing, fun, being a mixed couple, having three languages home,our son having otitis media, using signs helped our son to know that an object or action could be said diffrent ways and mean the same thing. I have been proved wrong with my no experience pre set knowledge about kids capability to understand, all the ideas one gather before having kids. Now I see how much eager he is to learn, and how well he understand things you may think he is to young to be able to grasp. Nothing has been forced to our son, he has learned while having fun, we had fun as well, we learned some ASL, and better yet to all those who were telling me his verbal skills were going to be affected now they are seeing not only that is not true, he is speaking 3 languages and still loves to sign. The road ahead is still a challenging one specially for me that I live in Norway and my mother tounge is Spanish, he is constantly hearing norwegiand and english, on the other hand spanish is only me and a couple of friends who speak the language, however I strongly feel that should I have not used babysigns I would be in far more disadvantage stage right now. Thanks for sharing your story. Paula

Thanks for commenting here. :)

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