Friday, August 24, 2007

It's Signing Time with Jonah and Momma!

After lots of research and recommendations from other parents, Dave and I decided to teach Jonah sign language. They say it helps kids communicate before they can talk, which reduces their frustration level "virtually eliminating the terrible two's". So we figured it was worth a shot.

Not only is it helping Jonah communicate with us already (he did his first sign at about 10 months), but it's also a lot of fun seeing him learn all these new tricks! Now that he's getting the hang of it, it seems like he's picking up a new word almost every day. You can tell it's really starting to sink in that different motions actually mean something. And as his fine motor skills improve he's able to do even more signs.

By the recommendation of my good friend from our mom's group we got these DVD's called "Signing Time". They're great! The host is this really cute mom named Rachel. And her daughter Leah and Leah's cousin Alex help show the signs. Now as soon as we start singing the theme song, "It's signing time with Alex and Leah" Jonah gets a huge grin on his face, looks toward the TV and starts bouncing. It's way cute!

We usually watch one DVD a day. For the first week or so Jonah just watched and smiled and bounced when they'd play a song and I would try to help him make the signs. Then I was totally surprised when a week or so after we got the videos he started making the sign for ball along with the video all on his own. What a proud mom moment that was!

Now he knows everyone's favorite - more! Make your two hands look like duck beaks and make them kiss in front of you. That's more. This one has to be the easiest to teach because there's such an immediate reward... food! Jonah hasn't quite mastered putting all of his fingers together. It's more of a clapping motion, but it's at least closer than just smacking his tray like he used to do.

He picked up the sign for milk pretty quickly too. Picture the motion of squeezing an utter milking a cow. I think that one wasn't too hard since he knew how to wave. It's just like waving but with your hand turned sideways. Since he hasn't picked up the sign for drink or cup we just let him use the sign for milk for any drink, whether it's a bottle or a cup with water or juice. Handy!

Another helpful sign has been All Done. We have him shake his hands in the air. It's already helped a lot. Instead of getting frustrated and trying to hit the spoon out of our hand or turning his head and whining he can just make this sign. We usually have to ask him if he's all done and remind him how to do it, but if he is done he does it right away.

I'm not sure if this qualifies as a sign, but he's very good at "so big". And today he picked up "Sleep". He was acting a little cranky and I asked him if he wanted to take a nap and I made the sign for sleep (you move your open hand down over the front of your face and then close your fingers under your chin). He started moving his hand down over his face. I'm not sure if he knew exactly what I meant, that I was going to take him up and put him in his bed, but he mimicked me like a little monkey and acted so proud.

He thinks the sign for bird is very hilarious. You make a bird beak in front of your mouth with your forefinger and thumb and make it chirp. Actually he thinks a lot of signs are funny. Tonight before his bath we were singing and signing in the bathroom mirror. One of the songs from the videos is called "proud to be me" I think. The lyrics are "I'm a boy, I'm a boy, I'm proud to be me, yeah!" and the same thing for a girl. And you sign boy or girl along with it. I was standing in front of the mirror and I had Jonah sitting on my hip. I'd point to his tummy and then do the sign for boy on his forehead (it's like you're grabbing the brim of a hat) while singing the song and bouncing side to side. He was laughing and screaming with glee. I live for these moments!

Here's a video of Jonah watching the opening theme song of "Signing Time". You can just see it in his face how much he loves it. He cracks me up!

"Are you seeing this, momma!?"

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