Why we love Sing & Sign and how it benefits us as a family

When I originally signed us up for Sing & Sign with Suki, it was more about me getting out and about with a new baby.  We did a taster session in December when Penny was only 2 months old and she pretty much slept through the whole thing.  We signed up for the “Babes” group, which is from birth to 6 months, however Suki was honest with us at the sign up, that from around 12 weeks would be a better time to start, as baby is awake longer and can make eye contact with you more effectively.

Most of the sessions during “Babes” were focussed on getting baby to look at you while you sign and do a few signs.  To be honest, they are very few, but the sessions ease you in.  The songs are easy to remember too, and many of them are common nursery rhymes that we all know anyway.  I however am RUBBISH with tunes for songs, so we bought the Jessie Cat book and CD. At £12.99, was a great buy, as it also gave us a head start with learning the songs and meant that we could continue with what we had been already learning in class.

Jessie with Songbook
Image courtesy of Singandsign.co.uk

The babes class only lasts for 30 minutes, but for anyone who has tried keeping a baby occupied and attentive for 30 minutes will know that that can sometimes feel like an age.  We signed up for Stage 1 which was due to start just as Penny turned 6 months.  So far Penny wasn’t showing any hints of signing herself, however she loved the songs and we as a household soon learnt which ones were guaranteed to stop a meltdown in it’s tracks.  “Change your nappy” and “Little Green Frog” to name a few.

At first I used to get funny looks when I spoke to people about our Sing and Sign sessions.  I’d get ‘isn’t it a waste of money if she just lays/sits there?’, or ‘we didn’t have any of that in my day and all my kids turned out ok’.  And I agree that it’s probably not for everyone, however I am also a believer in not knocking something until you’ve tried it.  I ignored the sniggers and little looks I’d get from some people.  I knew what they meant.  The ‘Emma’s following another fad’ sort of look. But I didn’t care.  I was most definitely getting something from it, even if Penny was showing no real change.

Stage 1 started in April and we looked forward to the now 50 minute session.  New songs and a much more attentive baby who was now sitting up. Hurray! Penny also fell in love with Jessie cat.  Hugs, kisses and cries when Jessie had to say hello to another baby.  I did get slightly disheartened midway through the course that Penny wasn’t signing anything yet that I could tell.  Suki assured me that most children start during their second term of Stage 1, so I resigned myself to the fact that it wouldn’t happen.  I believe now that it was partly my fault too.  Signing for 1 hour a week will not help your child to learn.  It really does need to be a daily/consistent activity in order for it to work.  I was in two minds about whether I could really justify spending more money on another term when suddenly at 9 months old, Penny signed ‘Milk’! And then ‘Please’ while we were on summer break.

I found that getting the whole family involved was a real help.  Not only where they singing the songs (although not in their sleep, like I was), they were also using signs and loving that Penny was now suddenly communicating with them.  We are now a few sessions into our second Stage 1 term, and this one has been our most challenging.  Mostly because Miss Penny has been walking for 3 months now and has perfected it.  She dislikes sitting still, and much prefers spinning in circles in the centre of the class, climbing up things and even stealing Suki’s spot up front. But she is still learning.  Every week, we see something new. Whether it be “ducks’ quacking, or stamping her feet, we love them all.  Her new favourite song is ‘If you’re Happy and you know it’. It’s our go to song when a paddy is imminent and as a feisty 12 month old, that’s pretty much daily.

So, does this mean that Penny doesn’t actually speak? Of course not.  Signing is used alongside speech.  We never sign in silence as the ultimate aim, is to promote communication via speech once speech is possible.  Penny speaks quite a bit for her age, but she does find it much easier to make herself understood by using her signs.  Some of these she has adapted for herself which is ok, as long as they are understood at home where they will be used.  A lot of signing for babies is gesture based, so you probably already do some signing without realising it.  Signs such as ‘Where?’ and ‘Bye’ are very common.

We are really enjoying our classes again, and look forward to stage 2 after Christmas. Penny has met some great little friends along the way as well as everything else she has gained from the class.  I’ve also met some lovely ladies and babies as well as getting out of the house one morning a week.  Some days it’s a challenge, but never on Sing and Sign day!

Like I said before, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  You don’t even need to start from a baby either.  Look out for free taster sessions in your local area and go along.  I promise you won’t be disappointed and Jessie Cat will soon become a lifelong friend to your child.  You can’t find details of your local classes here, as well as some great resources you can use at home.

Em...x

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34 thoughts on “Why we love Sing & Sign and how it benefits us as a family

  1. Rachel says:

    It annoys me when people expect children to speak in sentences as soon as they reach a certain age, my nephew also uses signs quite a lot and he does also speak really well, just when he wants too not when he is told too x

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  2. Sam Bresnahan says:

    I really admire how you persevered even though it took a while to get there. If you believe in something, persevere and you get there in the end.
    It does annoy me when people ‘expect’ things from your little ones. Toby is 21 months and still not walking (Something wrong with his legs) and I get looks of disgust when he’s still crawling about.
    I take no notice now and he will walk when he is good and ready (Awaiting an appointment about his legs though)

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  3. Jenni - Odd Socks and Lollipops says:

    This is great, I wish we had persevered a bit longer with signing, but my daughter just didn’t want too. She was an early talks and talks with lots of words now at 22 months, so maybe she prefers talking.
    I think they all have things that they prefer to do and they have things they don’t like doing, or takes them a bit longer. It would be boring if we were all the same and our children were all the same.
    There is too much judgement out there for anything that is a bit ‘different’ and it really annoys me

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  4. TheLondonMum says:

    I never went to any of the signing classes with my Son but I knew of them and thought they would have been great. I just didn’t think he’d get much from it because his attention span was REALLY short and I thought I’d find it more stressful than I could deal with.

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  5. bowen1960 says:

    I think this sounds fascinating. Never heard of it before but surely anything that helps a parent and child communicate must be for the good.

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  6. laura447 says:

    It amazes me how quickly little ones pick things up. We’ve not been to a class as such like the one in your post, but I have been trying to teach our little boy myself. The only thing he’s picked up on so far is the sign for ‘Duck’ which is very cute.

    A few of my friends have children that go to nursery (I’m a SAHM) and at nursery they are taught how to sign things like the word ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’, I was amazed when I saw them doing it, how clever!

    I definitely need to learn a bit more about how to do it at home (I don’t drive and there are no classes I can get to easily).

    Laura x

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    1. themummybalancingact says:

      We love duck! Although it’s very similar to Milk when a baby hand does it. I’m being amazed every single day by the little sponge that she is now! There is so much online and even DVD’s too is you can’t get to class 🙂

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  7. @Jax2000 Mummys Little Monkey says:

    I never took my daughter to formal lessons, but I did teach her the milk sign and I found it really helpful. I can’t remember how old she was, but I think it was about the same age as Penny (who is SO ADORABLE in those videos, by the way!); if I did it all over again I’d definitely use more baby signing. x

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