There's a reason why we as parents, make the silly faces and become party to the sometimes nauseating baby talk - we're trying to communicate with the cute little squishy thing we made.
Long before they enter the world, we poke, prod, read, and play music at our bump, trying to get a reaction. Once they arrive, we look for any sign of interaction. We decode their incoherent babbles as "da-da" or "ma-ma", insisting that they're geniuses. Even their smiles are boast worthy - despite the fact that it's usually just gas. The bottom line is, we want our babies to communicate with us. Which is why many new generation parents are flocking to baby sign language classes as a resource.
Being no exception, we recently signed our little guy up for a 6 week baby sign language course through My Smart Hands. Naturally, we got mixed reactions from family and friends
"Is it doctor recommended?"
"Does he have a hearing problem?"
"What's the point? He'll talk eventually."
This kid's hearing is so sharp he can hear me opening a chocolate bar down the hall; and yes, he will talk eventually without this class. But for those who are in it, 'eventually' can seem like an eternity away.
The idea is to teach them how to sign, because they understand much sooner than they can speak. Babies truly are sponges that learn, grow, and retain information at a rapid rate. By teaching them this skill, if they can't say it, they can sign it. There are multiple benefits - it eliminates parents' frustration because they understand their baby's needs more easily; it increases their cognitive development as they have to associate a word with a sign and preform it; and - contrary to popular belief - helps them verbalize their words sooner.
Having completed our course, I can say we had an excellent experience. Classes consist of 45 minute sessions, in an interactive and playful environment, which both parent/caregiver and baby attend. The first level class covers every day words such as more and milk, as well as specific foods, family members, emotions, animals, and transportation. Signs are taught through interactive instructions and demonstration, as well as songs. We were fortunate to have the lovely Gina McCubbin as an instructor who was helpful, responsive, and encouraging throughout our course and beyond.
So was it worth while? I'd definitely say yes. I had my moments of doubt, as I consistently signed to a confused baby. Although he knew something was up, he mainly just laughed at my motions. However, with Gina's encouragement and reminders that babies don't typically reciprocate until about 12-18 months, I kept at it. And I'm happy to say that we now have a signing baby! In the past he'd cry for something. Now, he'll clap to indicate when he wants more food, shake his head no when he's full, and squeeze his fist when he wants milk. So I know how to remedy the situation immediately, ultimately easing my frustration.
All of the textbook pros aside, it just feels amazing to be able to communicate with our baby. So, if you're contemplating baby sign language classes for your little one, I highly recommend My Smart Hands. With classes offered year round, and the option for private sessions, My Smart Hands was very accommodating. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.