Frequently Asked Questions
Why Signing Smart?
While many baby / toddler sign language companies stress the importance of being consistent and signing whenever you say the word, or starting with only a few specific signs and getting your child to look at you as you produce them, our research has proven there is an easier, more successful way!
By implementing the Signing Smart Start and learning the four simple Keys to Signing Smart Success (including ways to sign without your child ever needing to look directly at you!), you and your family can experience success in a matter of days or weeks, as opposed to needing to wait months! Signing Smart is not about learning a whole new language or needing to "get" your baby to produce complex hand movements. It's about enriching what you are already doing with your baby by learning a selection of useful and interesting signs, verified shortcuts that will allow you to take advantage of the flexibility of a natural language like ASL, and why and how your child's signs (like his early words) will be slightly different from yours. In addition, our tools and strategies will allow your child to develop an extensive sign vocabulary quickly, and they include many tried-and-true techniques to use signs to facilitate spoken language development and concept learning.
Signing Smart is a research-proven approach developed by two Ph.D.s in Developmental Psychology who have years of experience signing with their own children, as well as with the thousands of families that have been a part of Signing Smart programs. All programming and materials were created to work with what Drs. Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert know about children's development, and allow you easy-to-learn techniques that take advantage of their years of training and research. (SigningSmart.com)
Why sign with my child?
While all hearing children begin the journey toward spoken language development at birth, it takes children between 12 to 24 months to begin "mastering" the sound and intonation patterns of English, and then to begin applying this mastery to the production of basic words and sentences. In contrast, Signing Smart gives you the resources and knowledge to take advantage of natural movements that all children make. And because the gross motor abilities required for signing develop months, sometimes years, earlier than the equivalent fine motor skills required for speech, children can begin to sign very early in development. Therefore, at the same time that infants and toddlers are learning and practicing the sound patterns for English, they can use linguistic hand and body movements to communicate needs, ideas, and thoughts from as early as five months.
Older infants and toddlers who have "mastered" early words will still benefit from seeing and using signs, and their parents or caregivers benefit too. For example, early "talkers" can use signs to expand their vocabulary - commenting, questioning, and conversing using signs for words that they cannot yet say, or coupled with words they are learning to say to make sentences.
Children's use of signs can help clarify their speech, and parents or caregivers can specifically ask their child to use a sign to help them better understand and respond to their child's words.
When parents or caregivers continue to use signs in strategic ways, such as those taught in Signing Smart programs and materials, the signs highlight specific concepts or ideas, and help children differentiate between similarly sounding words. Even older toddlers and preschoolers benefit when parents use signs and Signing Smart strategies to support cognitive development and learning. For example, literally seeing the difference between words like FLEA and FLEE allows young children to more easily learn concepts and complex vocabulary, regardless of the great many words they may already have at their command. (SigningSmart.com)
What about siblings/multiples?
For the Beginner Play Class Series, if you have more than one child, you may register your first child at regular price, then register each additional sibling at 50% off. One set of materials will be provided for families with more than one child registered.
Older siblings are invited to be helpers, and must be prepared to interact appropriately with the enrolled infants.
When should I start signing with my child?
There really is no "too young" to get started. In fact, my family started signing with each of our sons when they were less than a week old! In order to be able to start participating in play class activities, it is suggested that your child be at least 6 months old. However the final decision is yours. Babies as young as 2 months old have taken Signing With Miss Steph classes.
The Workshop for Early Communication is great for exepcting parents as well as parents, extended family members, and caregivers for children who are not yet relying on spoken communication. (Typically around 2 years of age.)
Will signing delay my child's speech?
The short answer is "no, absolutely not." In fact, research has actually shown the opposite to be true. Infants and toddlers who sign have larger vocabularies and speak earlier than their non-signing counterparts. In fact, the founders of Signing Smart, Dr. Michelle Anthony and Dr. Reyna Lindart, studied over 200 families from across the U. S. and found some very encouraging results. The children studied were between 6 months and 19 months old. Those who were signers had been signing for at least 8 weeks. (http://signingsmart.com/research.html)