It is great to have the kids learn some sign language. It is like learning a 3rd language, except that they don’t have to slog over books and grammars and exams. If you have a child who is taking his time picking up speech, sign language is a great alternative to communication. It really helps with the frustration level. When Dominic was little, he was a little slower in picking up words. I decided to teach him some simple signs and it did help with communication. Don’t worry about sign language making speech delay worse. When the child is ready to pick up speech, he will naturally drop the signing and just verbalise what he wants to communicate. This was what happened with Dominic. The best part is that with practice, they actually will remember the signs they learned.
Unfortunately, at that time, I was not aware of Signing Time yet. Perhaps it was not even in the market. All I had was a couple of books on Baby Signs and the internet. I would google for the signs to learn and then teach Dominic the signs. The process can be a bit tedious. Signs, when explained with 2D drawings or word description, can be a bit difficult to figure out.
Recently, I managed to get hold of some Signing Times DVDs from a friend. I love this series of DVD and so do my kids. It is fun, colourful and I like the way the presenter explained the signs so that it makes it easier to remember them. My two older boys picked up a lot of signs through this series. The signs taught in this series are the simple ones that every child will identify with and use in their everyday lives. E.g. hungry, happy, names of some food, etc. We have great fun quizzing one another on the signs.
My 3rd boy is also slow at picking up speech and I have been teaching him some signs. Just a few days ago, when we stepped out from an air-conditioned building into a very hot area, he signed ‘hot’ several times. When we were in the cab later on, he pointed to the back of the front seat where it was torn and signed ‘hurt/pain’. I am happy that he can communicate now even though he still cannot say many words. He is still too young to learn the signs from the programme itself but I see him trying to imitate. I have to teach him the signs myself by showing it to him slowly and guiding his hands. But it is definitely so much more fun for me to learn from the programme myself. It is also a lot more fun for the both of us to watch the programme together and learn the signs together.
The signs are American Sign Language (ASL), of course, since this DVD is produced in the US. However, I think it does not matter as our local sign language is very similar to ASL. (I once wrote to ask the relevant local organisations.)
I have only seen a few volumes of this series. There are actually 2 series with 13 volumes in each series as well as other materials such as CDs, flashcards, books and even 2 volumes specially for babies. For more information, visit Signing Time website. The Singapore distributor for Signing Time is Lingenius.
The only thing that I don’t like about this series is the price. Each volume is only about 30 minutes. If you buy single DVDs, each will cost you S$30. Very pricey if you were to buy the whole collection, which is why even though I drool over the whole set, I just cannot make myself buy it. I guess I just have to put them on my wishlist and hope that somebody will buy them for me for Christmas!