I can't believe that in the almost four years I have blogged, I have never blogged about our love for Signing Time! What is Signing Time? Signing Time was born out of a desire for one mother to create a community that could communicate with her deaf daughter! That mother was Rachel Coleman, and between her and her sister Emilie Brown, they created Two Little Hands Productions.
For us, our adventure into our girls learning American Sign Language started when Zoelle was about 7 months old. We had several friends who used a few basic signs, and they encouraged us to teach Zoelle signs in order that she could communicate with us before she actually could speak. I studied up on a few basic signs and then stumbled across the name of a product called Baby Signing Time (which is geared toward babies). We bought a few of the videos and were amazed that within weeks, Zoelle was signing. She also was an early talker (which I'm guessing was not contributed to signing because our other girls were not), so she did not necessarily need to sign, but rather chose to sign and talk at the same time.
As I mentioned, Meridian and Xiomara were both rather late talkers. Meridian also definitely tends to be more "whiny" rather than communicate through her words, so signing became a lifesaver for us as she grew older. To this day, she often signs and says please anytime she wants something, just out of habit.
As the girls grew, so did their knowledge in ASL. We now own almost every Signing Time movie made, including all the Baby Signing Time (which has over 100 basic signs). Even Zoelle, at almost 6, still loves to watch Rachel sign. The movies all incorporate Rachel, Hopkins (a frog), Alex (Rachel's nephew), and Leah (Rachel's daughter). Rachel will teach a sign, or several signs, and then a song will follow that incorporates those signs in the song. Some of our girls favorite songs are: The Silly Pizza Song, A New Day, Down on Leah's Farm, and All Aboard the Zoo Train.
So why learn ASL when your children aren't deaf? For the same reason I want my girls to learn Spanish! They may one day have friends or children in their classroom who are deaf or hard of hearing, and I believe it is important that they have the ability to communicate with them. It essentially is learning another language. The great thing about it, is that Chris and I have learned right along with them, and enjoyed it too!
A couple of weeks ago, we surprised the girls with a trip to see Rachel and Hopkins in concert. Rachel was performing at a church about three hours away from us, and I knew the girls would love to be able to see her and meet her. We were not disappointed! She was every bit as kind and fun, as she is in her videos. I don't think I've ever seen Zoelle beam as much as I did at that concert. She told me, "For as long as I live I'll never forget this day, mom"! Meridian and Xiomara were a little confused on how Rachel Coleman could be right in front of them when she is normally in TV! :)
For us, it was a chance to thank Rachel for all she had taught our girls. Also, to thank her for broadening our minds, and our daughters, in our understanding of the deaf community! It also allowed us to see first hand the passion Rachel has for this company, and especially for other parents to allow their children to know ASL! If there is one product I recommend to parents, it is the Signing Time DVDs, and for those that know us and know how little we let our girls watch TV, that is saying a lot!
Have you ever taught your children to sign? Do you know ASL?