My daughter started Signing Hands classes at 6 months of age. The first week we learnt the sign for 'drink' so I started showing her this sign every time I fed her in her highchair. She started signing for ‘drink’ very quickly and she continued to fine tune it over the next five months. This sign became invaluable for reminding her exhausted mother that she was thirsty.
A lot of people have commented that her speech will be slow to develop because she is using sign language. This has not been the case at all. She is very vocal and has begun saying ‘again’ and ‘dog’ along with the sign) as well as ‘dad’ and ‘Mama’ (signing for these as well of course). When teaching the signs we also teach our child to say the word along with it – therefore they learn both the sign and the word.
I have found that signing has been fantastic as my daughter has been able to communicate with me in English (and Auslan) before she could even say one word. The classes are really enjoyable and are a great way to spend quality time with your baby reading stories and singing songs along with the signs. I highly recommend Debbie’s classes.
Natalie | Dianella
A few days ago my son was able to hold a conversation with two hearing impaired ladies who were sitting at a table near by in a coffee shop. They were absolutely delighted to be able to interact with us.
Suzanne | Swan View
Hi Debbie, as you know my daughter has been unwell. So you would think that with being unwell and in the pre speech age that would come with a lot of frustrations.
This evening 1 and a half hours before her usual bed time Isla was very grizzly. I signed if she wanted 'milk' 'eat' 'drink' and she signed back 'bed'. Off we went and within minutes she was fast asleep.
What would I do without signing?! Thanks so much, these classes (and breast feeding lol) have by far been the best thing I've done for her as a mum :)
Laura | Beechboro
Part of the reason behind me deciding to trial the program was based on the interaction I had during the workshop with Debbie who I could instantly relate to. Debbie presented research that demonstrated the benefits of signing but most importantly she helped me to understand that signing is an additional skill to support oral language development and isn’t used instead of.
My daughter was 14 and half months old when she began Signing Hands. She absolutely loved the structure of each session as it included singing, puppets and story-time. During the sessions my daughter was interactive, motivated and noticeably engaged. Her first sign was for ‘milk’ and from then on the flood gates opened – signs and words blossomed – dog, boat, banana, share, help, duck, dirty, clean, mummy, happy, sad, all gone, book, eat, listen, no-touch were some of the first.
We are about to begin our fourth term of Signing Hands and are now in the toddler group where she is using her repertoire of signs through dance, story-time and song.
Aside from the signing I have also seen improvements in concentration and listening skills in herself and the other children. Social skills have also improved, as the children need to work together in each session sharing puppets, sharing story-time and making their craft activity.
As a parent it is fantastic to see your little one so excited and engaged in something – she even asks to go to Signing Hands during other days of the week and yes she asks using the sign for ‘signing’!
For me, her learning aside, I have gained a lot from being involved in Signing Hands. It tests my memory and keeps my brain ticking as well. I also find the network of other mums and bubs attending a great bonus too.
Sophia | Mt Claremont
Thank you for introducing baby sign language to our family. It has been such a great tool to be able to communicate to our toddler.
She consistently signs when she is tired and wants to go to bed, when she wants food, a drink from a cup and to be breast fed 'milk'. She signs 'Daddy', 'dog' 'cat', 'nappy' change and now recently 'bug/lady beetle'.
I love talking to my baby and signing makes it all the more rewarding, not to mention relationship building.
Keep up the great classes Deb and thanks heaps for providing a great service.
Natalie | Kalamunda
Although I knew the communication benefits of signing with my little boy I didn't realise it would extend to other people too.
We were down at our local farmer's market and were waiting to order food from a vendor. My son and I were signing to each other about the ducks while we waited.
There was a deaf man ahead of us and he was having a lot of trouble making himself understood to the vendor. I signed to the man and asked him if he needed help. He signed 'cow' to me, so I told the vendor that he wanted a steak sandwich, not a burger which the vendor had been trying to give him. The deaf man then signed to my son, asking him what he was eating. He told him that he was eating cheese.
It was so nice to be able to use my signing to help someone
Kim | Swan View
I have been coming to Signing Hands since my daughter was 8 months old. She began signing at 12 months - her first sign was bath. She is now 2 and a half and can sign approximately 200 signs.
I have found it to be an invaluable experience that has not only enabled her to communicate with me but also is very enjoyable for both of us. It is a great bonding activity, we both have lots of fun. She loves it when I 'get' what she has said or signed and now she is talking it is still very useful when she can't quite say a word correctly. It also is a useful tool as it encourages her to watch and copy what Mummy does.
She has very good hand skills and expression in her face and voice. I think it has helped her in so many areas and given her lots of confidence. Thank you Debbie!
Marie | Bullsbrook
My son was 6 months when I started baby signing with Debbie and is now 20 months old. By 14 months he was able to get across whatever he wanted between signing and speech. And now his speech is clear to all and he often talks in three worded sentences.
Everyone comments on how advanced they think my son is because of his speech. I can without a doubt say that signing has provided me the opportunity to discuss topics with my son that interest him because he has been able to communicate them with me by signing.
My husband and parents soon got on board when he signed their names before being able to say them… and they were also able to understand him better because of signs. His speech has really come on as a result.
As for my older 2 children, they quickly picked up on the signs I was teaching their brother and we can now sign to each other in a crowded room or across a swimming pool.
It’s a great second language, which is what I am now aiming for that my son’s speech is improving. I love the special connection it has given me with my son. I am so much more in tune with him than I was with my older two. I highly recommend baby signing to all.
Simone | Beechboro
My daughter has been attending signing classes since she was a year old. We started the class as a friends autistic son was learning to sign and we wanted to be able to have some communication with him.
After our first class we were in the shops and as we passed a toy horse she frantically started signing ‘horse’ and pointing to the toy. I was really surprised at her progress and after the first two terms she could use the signs for over 20 animals, all the foods she ate, and family names.
The signing has come in very handy on many occasions as her speech progressed and helped avoid many tantrums. One time she was in tears because I didn't get her a "foober"??? and I could not figure out what she meant. She then said "Mummy I doing sign I show you" and signed flower! This is just one of the many times signing has helped our communication.
She is now 3 and can sign all the colours, clothing items, emotions and many, many other words. We are now learning the ABC's, and signing sentences. Above all we both have fun".
Caroline | Kewdale
"I started doing signing classes with my son when he was 14 months old. I had tried some basic signing with him before, but without a class to reinforce it, we hadn’t really got past the sign for ‘milk’ and ‘finished’. So when my friend told me about the signing class, I was very excited and joined straight away.
My aim with signing was to try and reduce my son’s frustration at not being able to communicate what he wanted.He started signing slowly about 4-6 weeks after we had started the classes. Within 2 months he really got the hang of it and was doing many signs and these continued to increase as we attended the classes and used the signs at home. I think in total he learned about 30-40 signs that he would use as required. He learnt the signs for all the animals and used to regularly communicate to me about birds in the garden or dogs and cats when we went walking.
However, the signs that made the most impact where ‘more’ (which he did with 2 hands for emphasis!), finished, drink, eat, chicken, fish, etc. These were the signs that enabled him to get what he wanted.
Once he started talking (18 months plus), he used the signs at the same time as he said the word. This was very helpful, as often I could not understand what he was saying.
I really feel that signing was invaluable in decreasing my son’s frustration and enabling him to feel more in control of his world by communicating what he wanted. I would recommend this to any parent who wishes to increase their ability to communicate with their baby/toddler and make them feel more empowered."
Rebecca | Melville
I have a 10 month old daughter. I just want to say its great when she comes up to me signing milk. Sooo cute. She now knows about 10 signs, her favorites are 'brother' and 'cat'.
We love going to classes and find Debbie to be a great teacher and very helpful. I love that I get my moneys worth by having a full hour of fun and learning. And if we don't make it we can have a make up class. Keep up the good work Debbie and we will be returning.
Kylie | Beechboro
My son (currently 18 months) has enjoyed these classes enormously. They have been great fun for both of us with lots of singing, stories and laughter.
I enrolled him with the idea that signing would reduce shouting across the playground, down supermarket aisles and so on, and it certainly has. The major benefit however, has been lower frustration levels for both of us in the pre-talking and early-talking stages.
Now, when he needs something (e.g. food, drink or a clean nappy) or just wants to tell me something (e.g. he’s seen a dog or he wants to call Grandma) he can clearly communicate this.
An additional benefit has been that when he learns the sign he starts to learn the word (even though his pronunciation is not yet perfect).
Suzanne | Swan View
Our daughter started signing hands when she was about 5 months old. Our first sign was for 'Daddy' at around 7-8 months, which was very exciting. It wasn't until we started to introduce the more 'fun' signs like animal signs that she really became interested and we suddenly realised she understood much more than we realised!
We found other parents would often be shocked when she did signs for certain things, as it became obvious that she knew what these things were, and they assumed their babies didn't. We think that their babies probably understood just as much but simply could not show them as their speech was not yet developed enough.
Signing has been a great tool for us to aid communication with our daughter. Her speech development is also advanced for her age, and we believe it's because of being able to communicate earlier through signing. Apart from these benefits it is also great fun!!
Bian | Riverton
Hi Debbie! I just did a quick count of my daughter’s signs - she has more than fifty signs she uses on a regular basis! She's now routinely combining two or three signs, and she understands loads more!
She's still a terrible toddler, so she still has tantrums - but her tantrums are never about communicating her needs, only from over-tiredness or not getting her way.
I love that we could be playing in her room and she can look out of the window and sign 'bird music hear' or 'more eat strawberry' and I know just what's running through her active little mind! I wish I'd have known about signing with my eldest child - it would have saved a lot of tears! Thank you!
Carrie | Beechboro