Archive for ‘guest post’

December 14, 2010

>guest post: learning to sign before they can speak

>I’ve written about this before, but I can’t stress it enough – baby sign language ROCKS!

We started working with Hadley with some basic signs, like more, eat, milk etc., when she was eight months or so. And soon the fruits of our labor paid off. Pretty soon she was learning more signs and communicating with us beautifully. But Hadley was stringing sentences together vocally pretty young, so we stopped pushing signing.

We now work with Hayden…

When Emily Patterson, Communications Coordinator for the for the Austin child care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools emailed me to share a guest post, it was a no brainer to share with my readers.

And without further ado…

Learn to Sign Before They Can Speak

A key to surviving in a troubled economic system in which opportunities to achieve a decent
standard of living will be limited, is versatility. Of course another being, the ability to
communicate articulately in a variety of ways with the widest possible audience. This includes
bilingual ability as well as the ability to communicate in non-verbal ways for the benefit of the
disabled – primarily the deaf.

At the same time, a growing shortage of qualified interpreters fluent in American Sign Language
has led to more career opportunities – and if current trends continue, it’s likely that skilled ASL
interpreters will have little problem securing lucrative employment in a society where such a
commodity is destined to be in short supply.

Signing Before They Can Speak

A great deal of research has clearly demonstrated that the early years – ages 2 to five – are the
best time to educate children in different modes of communication and language. This goes
beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language);
many young children have an aptitude for signing as well. This can be taught at home or some
child care programs have begun to teach it in their curriculums.

This really isn’t as odd as you may think. As you may already know, many indigenous peoples
around the world, including American Indian nations, have used sign language for centuries
to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some
paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals – who apparently lacked the
vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words – depended a great deal upon hand gestures to

In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder
Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old
communicate with their hands:

“…by 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, children
can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children
can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces
frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves
before they know how to talk.” (Glarion, 2003)

A study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is also
cited, demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually
develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in
communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that “using sign language allowed her
to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration…[he now] has an advanced
vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music” (Glarion, 2003).

The Best Time To Start

Incorporating sign into pre-verbal youngsters early childhood education as a way to
communicate can also strengthen the parent-child bond – in addition to giving children a solid
foundation for learning a skill that will serve them well in the future. The evidence suggests that
the best time to start learning ASL is before a child can even walk – and the implications for
facilitating the parent-child relationship are amazing.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Austin child care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of child care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.

November 19, 2010

>guest post: answer me this!


Today, Lori from A Day In Motherhood stopped by Minimal Mom to drop off her sentiments on a question I’ve been asking a lot lately: “WHYYYYYYYYY???” Lori is mama to three (3!) wee ones and is navigating her way through motherhood. Stop by her blog to read about her adventures. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, too!
Samantha's Day

Answer Me This
Raising kids, I have discovered, comes with lots of questions.  Will she have blue or brown eyes, straight or curly hair, and will he have his father’s smile?  All good questions that eventually get answered.  
And then there are the questions that arise that I may never get an answer to.  The ones that cause me to tower over my children with my hands up, Mommy Dearest style and scream, “WHHHYYY????”
I have assembled the top 5 in my house, well aware that the top 5 in your house may vary distinctly.  
1)  Why, oh why, do you rub your eyes, tell me you are tired, curl up on my lap and fall half asleep, only to pop your head up, jump up like you had a gallon of coffee and go absolutely apes when your father walks in the door?  And then, after you have properly greeted him and taken any chance he has had to come in and unwind away, do you then fight going to bed for hours on end?  You were just tired!  GO TO BED!
2)  Why, my dear Sarah, do you insist, regardless of the fact that you have been potty trained for close to a year, on removing your clothes and peeing in the middle of my master bedroom?  On my new carpet.  You must have heard that we got a waterproof pad when we moved in and are testing the theory that it will not absorb your pee.  Note to you:  it absorbs the odor so STOP IT!
3)  Where are your ears?  I know you have them.   I counted two when each of you were born.  In fact, I think you all have my ears (yea God).  So, if you have them, why do you insist on not allowing information you clearly hear to be transmitted to your brains?  I know you speak english and can comprehend basic instructions.  At least, when other people tell you to do something, you do.  So, please, if you have not lost them at a friends house and they work, please USE THEM!
4)  Why must I help you with every single thing you do?  I bet, and I may be slightly optimistic because you are mine, but I bet that you can do that puzzle that you have done 783 times all by yourself by now.  And I am almost certain that you are perfectly capable of opening a cabinet and getting your own cup.  And I am fairly sure that you can walk across this house to your room without the luxury of my assistance.  I have faith in your abilities so please, LEAVE ME ALONE!
5)  And finally, my loves.  Why can’t you leave each other alone?  If you put a toy down 3 days ago and your sister wants to play with it, let her.  It is not still yours just because a professional finger printer can prove that you might have actually touched it at one point in your life.  If you are not happy with someone playing with something or touching something you have personally deemed as “mine”, come tell me in a civilized voice.  Do not pin your sister to the floor,  kicking and screaming in fear, causing me to run full speed ahead, trip over said toy, and land with a thud, splayed out like a blob of jelly for all to see.  It is not funny.  It isn’t.  Stop laughing.  I beg, with all of my mommy heart, please LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE!
That is about it for now.  But if you talk to me in about a week, I bet I will have 5 more!
Lori Pace
Proud Author and Shameless Promoter of 

August 24, 2010

>ttt guest post: new evolution in teacher led playgroups

>Hayden and I are flying off to Colorado to take care of some business, so I have a wonderful guest blog for today. 

J.C. Conklin is co-founder of Gorgeous Millie, a soon-to-open teacher led playgroup for mom’s and kids 0-3 in the Austin Area. This is such a cool concept, especially since at playgroups I am dealing with two kids and leave stressed out. If someone knows of one of these in the Twin Cities area please let me know about iit.

Check out the Gorgeous Millie site and follow them on Twitter.


By J.C. Conklin, co-founder of Gorgeous Millie
I am terrified of leaving my children with nannies, mother’s day out programs, daycare or preschools. My fear has been confirmed again and again. We fired a nanny after she passed out at lunch with my children. Luckily I was downstairs working. The sound of chaos brought me to the kitchen. She blamed cold medicine. I thought the rum I smelled on her breath contributed.
My oldest son, (he’s four) is in the best preschool program in Austin, Texas. There’s a wait-list for two years to get in. Most people sign up when they find out they’re pregnant. His teacher told me that at other preschools she saw teachers force children’s heads down on mats during nap time because if they slept the teachers got to take a break. His preschool has no nap and has one way mirrors so the parents can watch anytime. Now I realize how lucky I am. 
I have been hesitant to put it mildly to place my children in anything I’m not there for until they can talk. I can’t risk it. But I want them to see other children on a regular basis. I want them to learn. And I desperately need a few minutes to breath while they are distracted. 
When a friend of mine in Washington DC told me about a teacher led playgroup she belonged to I was happy for her and envious. Mothers became members and they limited membership so the group was never crowded. The teacher led the children, ages 0 to 3, through music and art classes and supervised free play for three hours three days a week. She suggested fixes when mothers struggled with how to deal with different behaviors. The moms could talk some and have a cup of coffee. The kids socialized. The moms learned about early childhood development.
The teacher led (and fee based) playgroup is the newest evolution in early childhood education. Most cost $300 a month, some cost more. It sounded steep to me, especially since the parent is there the whole time but you are paying for 9 hours a week or 36 hours a month of instruction. I paid $75 a month for 45 minutes a week or three hours a month of instruction from Gymboree.
Washington DC has four groups with wait lists. Blue Igloo was started by the owner of the Washington Post’s grand-daughter because she couldn’t get into the other groups. Portland, Maine has the poshest one I’ve seen. They all have long waitlists.  Two different groups in New York City are planning on opening next year. I am stepping outside my comfort zone and starting one with my friend, Laura Jacks. Gorgeous Millie will open in Austin in January. Its website is 
The groups come with a bit of controversy. Some mothers say, “Why should I pay for a playgroup?” Others are more pointed, “It’s sad when you have to pay for something that you should organize in your neighborhood.” 
I say every playgroup that is mother-led I’ve heard of has broken up after a few meetings because of unresolved disputes (there’s no objective third party like a teacher who can step in), no neutral territory and irregular hours. Personally, I want to learn more about early childhood development from a professional while my baby sits next to another baby and pushes cars around. I would love to talk to other moms a few mornings a week . I crave some structure to my day besides nap, bath time and meals. But every mom is different and that’s one of the joys of life. 

August 11, 2010

>guest post: baby sign language

>We did some sign language with Hadley when she was little.  Milk. More. Cereal. Baby. Bubbles. Eat. Drink. Just to name a few. And I wanted to teach her more, but she started talking pretty well, so we moved on from the sign language.  But while she was using it, it was certainly beneficial. Now Hayden is here and while she is little, I’ve started using these basic signs with her.

So when Chief Editor at Baby Sign Language, Misty Weaver reached out to me to run a guest post on my blog, I happily accepted it. Without really having to think about it. I think signing is that great.  Enjoy and good luck!

Is My Baby Too Young To Learn Baby Signing?

Baby signing is a great early activity for mom and baby to do together. As Mom needs to learn the signs first – and then repeat them lots and lots to baby – it doesn’t really matter too much if baby is a little young when you first start signing. 

When To Start
The sooner you start signing to your baby, the sooner he will begin to communicate her needs back to you. You can start at any time, even from birth. If you have an older baby, you can still start to sign with her at any time. Even when your child has started to say a few simple words you may find that learning to sign helps her with her communication. 

How To Start
The key is to pick a few simple signs, such as Mommy, Daddy, and Milk, and concentrate on using these signs over and over. Repetition is really important, as is choosing signs which are interesting to your baby. Use the sign and say the word clearly. With older babies you can use flash cards to help if the object of the sign is not present.

When Will My Baby Start Signing
Be patient and don’t expect your baby to start signing immediately. You should encourage all her efforts at signing, even if you don’t recognize the sign your baby is trying to make. Any effort is great – she is trying to communicate with you. Most babies over the age of six months will need about two months of exposure and repetition of a sign before they begin to use it. So if you start signing with your baby when she is seven months old, she will most likely be using one of your favorite signs by the age of nine months. 

How To Develop Their Signing Vocabulary
When your baby has mastered their first few signs you can begin to introduce new ones. It’s a good idea to stick to groups of similar ideas or objects when introducing something new, for example food signs, or colors, or emotions. Remember, make it fun and repeat, repeat, repeat. Encourage your baby’s efforts at making the signs. Only introduce a few new signs at a time, and continue with these for around two months.

Do I Need To Go To A Class?
This all depends on your personal preference and where you live. If you have a class near to you, and you enjoy it, then classes are a great way to learn. Good baby signing classes will follow the advice given above – making it fun, repeating signs and building a base of simple signs before moving on to new ones, and encouraging the efforts of the babies and the moms! If you can’t find a class don’t worry – there are loads of resources online for you to use at home. Have fun, repeat and encourage – these are your steps to success no matter how young your baby. 

This guest post is brought to you by
Baby Sign LanguageWe are site dedicated to helping parents use signing as a way to communicate with their baby. Visit the site for all the FREE resources.

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