Why I LOVE Signing Time

Living in Utah I've been around young couples with children enough that I have a pretty good idea about all the fantastic ideas out there you can do with your child(ren) to help them have a good foundation for educational success for life. Signing Time is one of them.

A couple of years before Tips Jr was born, my good friend introduced me to Signing Time when I was over at her house with her and her son Joseph. Her mom is a kindergarten teacher and gave her all of her old VHS classroom tapes of Signing Time when she upgraded to DVDs - and I sat enthralled watching Signing Time for the very first time. My friend told me all the benefits of it and I was converted, my kids were going to learn as much ASL as they could from Signing Time.


When Tips Jr was about 6 months old I found that my local library had many of the Signing Time DVDs available to check out. I started checking them out and that was seriously the ONLY TV Tips Jr watched at 6 months old. We watched it more than Baby Einstein. I started signing 'milk' with TJ at 6 months - and although he learned other signs he didn't use milk until I was about ready to wean him at 13 months (then I couldn't wean him since he was finally asking for milk!).

Tips introduced TJ to other TV shows like Blues Clues and Sesame Street when he was about 18 months old and then TJ no longer had an interest in watching Signing Time.

But something must have cemented in his mind about ASL, because last fall he happened to watch another episode of Signing Time we had saved on our computer and after that he started signing a LOT more - and using signs we had stopped using months ago thinking he wasn't interested and he wasn't going to use it. He started signing words he already knew how to say - in fact he would stop saying the words and just sign it to us!

Since TJ's speech wasn't where I thought it would be after his 3rd birthday, I called our school district after he turned 3 to have him tested for speech per my sister-in-law's recommendation. A couple of weeks later we were at the elementary school with the speech pathologist having him tested. She told me at the follow-up meeting that in order to qualify for speech therapy a child must score below 76 on individual words - TJ scored at 87 for individual words. But since he monologued a couple of times while we were there (when he monologues a lot of incoherent words run together but you can hear his intonation change like it would normally when you are telling a story) she heard what I have been trying to decipher for the last 18 months. So he qualified.

She's been testing him for Language Processing Disorder per my request the last couple of weeks. She wrapped it up on Tuesday in our meeting and told me that he is really smart and she is impressed with how much he knows at his age (counts from 1-20, can count backwards from 10, knows all his colors and most of his shapes, knows the alphabet, and he knows how to spell his first and last name PLUS she says he has a really large vocabulary for his age which is unusual. Funny she thinks all this since I was was worried he was behind all his peers last fall - I guess that's what I get when most of my mommy friends are also college graduates and deeply vested in helping their child succeed!

I've thought for the last month that perhaps the reason TJ knows so much (because I didn't teach him most of what he knows) is because of what he's picked that up from Blues Clues, Sesame Street and the Waterford Institute Community Center program I've had him enrolled in since January.

But after his session on Tuesday, I began to think more about Signing Time.

We just watched it for the first time with Miss Tips on Sunday and at 8 months old she was ENGROSSED in it! If TJ stood in front of her she would lean to the side to see it. She got excited and laughed every time the little blond haired boy came on (this was in the very first episode, My First Signs). TJ was signing along during almost the entire show!

Little Miss Tips is so engrossed in watching Signing Time. Tips Jr. saw the camera and looked over while he was signing along with the "Silly Pizza Song"

I came to the conclusion that although the Waterford Institute Community Center program has done a great deal to help TJ rapidly learn (or cement what he knew) in such a short period of time, it couldn't possibly have expanded his vocabulary to as large as TJ's vocab is in the 4 short months he was participating. It must have been Signing Time! Then I remembered a lot of what I read about teaching your baby sign language, and almost all of the studies indicate that your child will have a larger vocabulary than children who do not learn sign. TJ is proof positive of that!

All babies and young children need to learn more sign language! I don't know how anyone can argue with that statement. Even Rachel Coleman proved her daughter Lucy's doctor wrong when they said she would never be able to communicate even with sign language.

I am obviously a believer in teaching babies and young children ASL (or your country's sign language if you live outside of the United States). It works!

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