I have been interested in baby sign language since Grady was born. We have a few books and had been doing the signs for “eat,” “more,” and “all done” with Grady, but he never picked them up and that was about as far as we got. So when we were given the chance to take Portland Early Learning Project’s Series Baby Sign Language class, we jumped at the chance!
Our six-week class was with co-owner Kara DeGiovanni, a licensed speech language pathologist (not to mention an all-around amazing instructor). Every 45-minute class starts with a welcome song, where each child is welcomed by name and with signs. Then, a sheet is handed out with the words we learn that day along with accompanying pictures. Each week has a theme – meals, animals, getting ready, and so forth. One of the many great things about the class was that Kara would describe how to do the signs in a way that made them memorable. For instance, the sign for mountain, she said, looks like two rocks building up to the sky. Why yes, it does! So much easier to remember when explained that way!
After going over the signs, we learn a few tips on how to incorporate the signs into daily life and get our week’s questions answered and then – the fun starts!
We start by singing songs that incorporate the signs we just learned. For instance, we might learn the signs for “bear,” “mountain,” and “see” and then sing “The Bear went over the Mountain.”
The rest (and majority) of the time is spent free playing with toys related to the signs. This part is especially useful because it gives us an opportunity to use signs as we would use them in everyday life. It was also just fun to play with the toys!
I have recommended the class to anyone who will listen. For one thing, the class works. Grady now signs “more,” “eat,” “duck,” and just yesterday picked up the sign for “fan.” Just as importantly, though, the class was so much fun. Kara’s enthusiasm for the class was evident and contagious, and the kids flocked around her.
She created a safe, playful atmosphere where the kids were free to play and explore and the adults were free to ask questions and be silly.
I can’t recommend the class highly enough. It’s exciting being able to communicate with Grady in ways that we wouldn’t have been able to without the class, and I’m looking forward to continuing to learn with him. Thanks, PELP!