20 January 2007


We have just started attending Sing and Sign classes with our second son and the DVD that we were given when our first son was smaller has been dug out - having just watched the Sing and Sign DVD for what seems like the thousandth time this week I thought I would write about signing.

My first experience of signing was when I learnt the finger spelling alphabet when I was about six, I then learnt a few songs with sign during my time at Brownies and Guides but that was all just for fun rather than specifically about communicating. I then learnt more about using sign to support the spoken word when working on abstract concepts with a child with autism - the theory being that as he was a visual learner giving him the sign whilst giving the receptive instruction would make it more concrete.

In January 2005 I did a two day Makaton course and learnt a lot more signs, and a lot more of the research / theory behind signing. My new enthusiasm for sign supported speech led me to investigate baby signing (hence the DVD as my 'baby' was too old to start the classes) and we started signing at home. We also used the popular Makaton based children's television programme Something Special on CBeebies with Justin and Mr Tumble to increase our signing reportoire.

Baby Signing
As a part of typical child development babies naturally use gestures and sounds before speech is well established to help their parents understand them, for example they point, clap. shake their heads and wave. Baby signing involves introducing extra gestures to help your baby communicate. It's easy to do first signs often include milk, more, change nappy, and tired plus favourite animals and vehicles. Sing and Sign classes are one of a number of baby music classes that involve a mixture of teaching parents signs and music activities to entertain the babies.

Sign Supported English
Signed English (including systems such as Signalong and Makaton) have been developed for the same reason as the now popular mainstream baby signing - to assist those with speech and communication difficulties to communicate their needs alongside developing their speech. Signalong and Makaton were developed using British Sign Language (BSL) signs matched to the key words in a sentence, so that as you speak you sign and speak at the same time. Signs are often pictorial and convey the meaning more easily than words, which are more abstract.

For More Information
Sing and Sign
Chelltune’s Baby Sign Language Store- Books, DVDs, interactive ebooks, keepsake charts, etc for signing babies and children.

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