GUEST POST: Baby Signing:What it means to me by Heather Avul TinyTalk Leicester.

Asalaam Alaikum/Hi all

I would like to say a huge thank you to the lovely Heather for doing a guest post for me at such short notice. I came across Heather on Twitter and started to get to know her. I got curious about baby signing and looked into it a bit more and felt it would be beneficial to my readers to share a post about it on my blog. If I had know about it when munchkin was younger I would have tried it.


Baby signing, What it means to me by Heather Avul TinyTalk Leicester.
Toddler class in Oadby
My name is Heather Avul and I teach baby signing with TinyTalk in Leicester and have been a teacher now for three and half years.
When I was pregnant with my youngest son I stumbled across the website and instantly I knew I wanted to teach my unborn sign language to help him communicate. 
There was not a TinyTalk class in my area so to go to TinyTalk I had to travel but loved the classes when my son Azad was 6 months old.  I had bought the DVD and signing pack and studied the signs to use at home but the classes really helped and sharing what i knew was fantastic. 
Using baby signs with my son was a different experience to what I had with my other children, you always speak at the same time as you sign and also you only sign was is relevant to a babies life.  So the first signs I used with Azad was milk, more, mummy, baba [daddy], when Azad was 4 months old he showed excitement when I signed and spoke milk in the sentence “would you like some milk”  this was exciting for me too and after that introduced more signs from the TinyTalk curriculum.  As Azad grew he would sign and attempt to speak whilst doing the school runs in the morning,  I used to wear him in a sling on my back and I would see his little hands signing bird while he would be saying “birrrr” .  He would also sniff for the sign flower [later he used his fingers too] he would do this at trees also and so I was able to explain to him the difference between them and so language development and communication had truly begun .
Azad Signing Bird just after his First birthday.
I have been teaching TinyTalk now for just over three years, Azad is now four years old and when we were on holiday in the summer we had a lot of fun signing different themed signs such as sand castle, cows seen in the fields, penguins in the sea life centre etc it was fabulous.
I have fun seeing the happiness the parents have when their baby receive their first signing certificate.
Oliver receiving his First Sign Certificate. See mum beaming with pride.
Using Signs with your baby helps you know what they are thinking and also encouraging speech at the same time. I was so sad when Azad was 18 months and he decided he did not need to use signs any more as he was understood with speech alone, some children will continue to sign as they speak and some will drop all there signs.  Although I can still manage to get him to sign for fun and strongly believe it helps his dexterity and also brain development.

Having fun signing Cow on Holiday
A TinyTalk Baby Signing class is a great way to learn baby signing, each week some core signs are taught and displayed and the teacher will have props to help with the visualisation and remembering the sign.  The lesson plan is written by Katie Mayne the Mother of TinyTalk who was a Primery school teacher and also teacher of the Deaf before having children of her own.  After a class you will go away knowing at least six signs as we focus on around six signs each week and they are included within the songs and rhymes in the plan.  You will also re learn lots of nursery rhymes and action songs. Then there is the social time also which for lots of new mums is very important.  TinyTalk has helped my Son Azad learn many songs more than my older children, I love listening to him sing.
TinyTalk has changed my life, I now feel I contribute to the community through my classes, I teach baby classes and also a Toddler class too where the toddlers are encouraged to talk and also join in more with the songs, we still include the signs as many of them love signing.  I can also train Nursery staff and child care professionals to use baby signing with the children in their care with a special course.  I have helped some children communicate with their families as their speech was not at the point it should have been, the speech therapist was so impressed with one family that she sent the mum on a signs and symbols course to further what I had started.
I started into baby signing a complete novice, I now have British Sign language level two and currently on Level three, not only had TinyTalk been a stepping stone for my son to communicate before he could speak using signs and attempting to speak it has also been a stepping stone for me to learn a whole new language.
Using baby signing will minimise tantrums and help reduce frustration, a baby will be able to recognise a sign from around 4 months old so you can start using the signs from birth, they will not sign back until a minimum of six months although some people will claim their baby has signed milk at 4 months.  When your baby reaches the age of one year all of a sudden the signs they have been shown over the past year will come into practice with the efforts of speech, at one a child really wants to start to communicate with you so help your baby and see if there is a TinyTalk class in your area.
Baby signing means the world to me and knowing a baby can control their hands before their vocal cords are fully developed is fascinating.  Does signing prevent speech the answer is no, always talk to your baby, sing to your baby and when we sign we always talk at the same time.  Signing actually helped my son as I was unclear of what he was saying so when he attempted to sign although his sign was slightly wrong I was able to put the two together and understood what he would want, I then would say the word correctly and then sign correctly too, language development had progressed.
To find out more about me you can visit my blog I will re vamp or follow me on twitter @tinytalkleics
Oadby babies in social time.

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  • oh that's really interesting, really enjoyed this article. I would definitely have joined a class like that with my kids, if i had known about them.
    My son has picked up sign language from Justin on cbeebies and he uses it on a daily basis along side his speech, especially when he's excited or anxious.
    Thanks for sharing this with us

  • A great post Heather!

    I think us TinyTalk teachers are blessed as we not only have the joy of seeing our own children signing and communicating but also the joy that the families who attend our classes feel as well!

    It is so lovely to read how you came to join TinyTalk and how your son and the rest of your family really enjoy signing! 🙂

  • We love Tiny Talk with Heather. Our daughter Isla has been going since she was about six months old and now goes to Toddler Talk. She signs and speaks confidently and even people who don't sign around her can understand her signs. We can't speak highly enough about what signing has done for Isla. She has made friends at the sessions as have I. Good luck Heather with future lessons

  • i enjoyed reading Heathers blog. it brought back so many memories from when Heather thought my little one to sign. He had a speech impediment and it was a struggle geting excess to a speech theripist! so i had to do something – He comunicated amazingly and became less frustrated an restless. He's 7 knw and his speech is fine. Heather is an amazing person and friend.

  • Thank you for inviting me to write a blog for you. I really enjoyed it and the comments are all so very warm.