October 8, 2010

Teaching our Children About "Stranger Danger"

Posted by Kristi at 6:29 PM
As with anything we teach our children, it is important to lay ground work early. We are all dreading the inevitable challenges that come as our children get older. If we take baby steps toward each one, our children will be prepared when they get there.

This week's theme at the day care was "Stranger Danger." As a mother, I feel like this is one of those topics that keep us up at night. The lingering questions of, "How will I teach it so they understand?" And, "Will they remember when I'm not around?" Remembering to make just a baby step here will help us, as parents, get through it; and our children will know what they need to know.

The number one rule is, as always, "Don't talk to Strangers." I told the children the story of Little Red Riding Hood all week. We used various media including, online stories, puppet shows, books, role play, and just talking about the story throughout the week.  This story is a perfect example of the importance of knowing about stranger danger.

As I'm sure you remember, Little Red Riding Hood was walking through the woods, when a stranger (the Big Bad Wolf) approached her.  Little Red Riding Hood did not remember the rule about no talking to strangers, and told the Big Bad Wolf where she was going.  Of course the sly, Big Bad Wolf took a shortcut to Grandma's house, and well, you know the rest.

To all of you parents out there, I want you to know that setting the ground work is that easy.  Tell a story, make it fun, and repeat, repeat, repeat!  For those of you who are using sign language with your children, this is a great opportunity to introduce the signs for "Danger," "Stop" and other safety concepts your family uses.  These are great because it allows you to communicate safety with your children even when they are out of ear shot.

With Halloween approaching, no time can be better for talking to your children.  There are many opportunities throughout our day to take advantage of:

1)  On trips to the store or other crowded places take the time in the car, before going in, to remind your children that there will be strangers in there.  Remind them what the number one rule is about strangers; if they can, get them to say it with you.  "DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS"  Being consistent about doing this is key to helping them remember. 
**Here's a little tip though: we're not trying to scare our children out of being sociable.  Remind them that if they want to talk to someone they don't know, that they must ask you if it's okay first.

2)  Going to visit family and friends is a safe thing to do.  Playing a game of "Who's a Stranger" on the way is a great way to engage your children.  Simply use the names of the people you are going to visit and ask if they are strangers (ie. Is Grandma a stranger? Is Aunt Vikki a stranger?).  You can also throw in some actual strangers (like the man walking down the street), to keep them thinking about it.

3)  When approaching houses for Trick-or-Treating, remind your children that while these are strangers, YOU are there and it is okay to say "trick-or-treat."  This will help reinforce their trust in you as the one who is there to protect them from danger and to help them meet new people.

There is obviously a lot more to come as your children get older and become more independant.  This is just a stepping stone toward the greater understanding of the danger of strangers.  But it will teach your children the fundamentals and open the door for them to ask you questions.

August 30, 2010

It Really is that Easy!

Posted by Kristi at 1:42 PM
I recently had a signing experience with a few of my close friends that I can't get out of my mind.

During my workshops and different play classes we often express to parents how easy it is to teach a baby to use sign language. I can not stress enough how natural it is for children to begin signing; many children do it on their own, we just have to keep out eyes open for it.

A perfect example of this was just a few short days ago. My husband's best friend and his wife were in town with their 1 year old daughter. They have not been formally teaching their daughter to use sign, but have witnessed what it has done for our children and have been very open to the concept. Throughout the weekend that they were staying with us I noticed several occasions when Abby would use signs to communicate what she wanted or was interested in.

The first couple of times I didn't say anything, but when I realized that the signs she had "made up" were the exact ones that I teach in my classes I couldn't help but share it with her parents. Of course they were beaming with pride, who wouldn't!

The point of sharing this with all of you is that I want you to see just how natural it really is for kids to begin to sign. We, as parents and caregivers, sign with children all the time, whether we realize it or not. Waving "bye bye" and nodding our heads to say "no" are both common ways we all use sign to communicate.

Children realize at a much earlier age than they begin to speak that there are certain movements they can make with their hands to "talk" to others. The more words or concepts we add to their signing vocabulary, the more they will be able to "talk" with us. Abby and her parents realized this without haveing to be fomally taught...anyone can. The idea is to be open to it and don't feel as though it is something you need to be formally trained on. Follow your child's lead and run with it!!!!

May 21, 2010

Sign for Mommy

Posted by Kristi at 10:28 PM
I know it's a little late for Mother's Day, but I couldn't resist taking the opportunity to post the video for the sign for "Mommy"

There's nothing better than when your baby says "mommy" for the first time.  Except when they begin to sign it long before they can speak!

Check out the video and share this sign with your own children :)

Oh, and I'm really excited to have a picture of my daughter and me in the video...yes that's me rocking the earmuffs!  Enjoy!

May 7, 2010

Giving Your Child an Emotional Head Start

Posted by Kristi at 2:09 PM
So what plays more of a role in the emotional development of our children; our genes or our actions?  It is the classic Nature vs. Nuture question.  Are our children somehow predestined to act a certain way; or are they a blank slate -left for us to mold into who we want them to become?  The answer is neither....or both, depending on how you want to look at it. 

Drs. Goodwyn and Acredolo have a wonderfull book called Baby Hearts that addresses just this point.  Researchers tell us that there are four inborn temperments in babies - Easy, Difficult, Slow-to-Warm, and Active (there's your nature).   As parents, it is up to us to "plant the seeds of faith, truth, and love" in order to help our children develop good character, virtue, and happiness into their lives (there's your nurture).

I've never had a mother say to me that she just didn't care what kind of person her child grew up to be.  On the contrary, most mothers will tell you that they just want their children to be happy.  Of course the word "happy" conjures up different images for all people - but all are dependent on healthy emotional development.  And as with most lessons in life, the sooner you begin to learn, the more lasting the impression will be.

Teaching young infants, toddlers and preschoolers the signs for emotions such as "happy", "grumpy", "sad", "mad", "silly", and any others that are fitting, will allow them to understand their emotions at an early age - and the emotions of others.  Understanding emotions is part of healthy development.

Food for thought:  Children who do not have a good handle on expressing their emotions are more apt to have low self-esteem, and bully others when faced with difficult emotional situations.

April 27, 2010

Manners Are Important

Posted by Kristi at 1:05 PM
There's nothing more adorable than children who use their manners.  Teaching children at a young age to use "please" and "thank you" sets the ground work for them to become polite, respectful adults. 

As with anything, the younger you teach your children (or other people's children) to use their manners, the sooner it becomes second nature.  This is another great way to benefit from using sign with your small children. 

My 13 month old daughter has just started  what I like to refer to as the "verbal explosion."  She has begun repeating every word she hears and spends hours during the day practicing her favorites.  For the last week it has been "please" and "thank you."  Not only has she learned the words, but she understands the concepts!  If you have something that she wants (which is ALL the time) she will simply walk up to you and put an open hand to her chest, moving it in a circular pattern--the sign for please.  After she gets what she wants she says "te-too".  I know, how adorable!  She will spend quite some time "finding" things to give you just so that she can remind you to say thank you.

My point in bragging about this is that she is 13 months old!!!!  I have to say that in my experience with non-signing children, very few of them at this age can get past the frustration of trying to tell you what they want, let alone use their manners when asking for it.

Whether you use sign regularly or not, whether you have an infant, a toddler or a preschooler -- if manners are something that you want to instill in your children, teach them these two signs, and use them regularly.  For the older kids, it will be a game -- one they will have fun with, for the younger ones, it will be a way to communicate with you...it's a win-win!

PLEASE: place one, open hand over chest and move in a circular pattern

THANK YOU: Touch finger tips of one or both hands to chin and pull forward

Oh, and just for fun, here's a little song we like to sing about manners: (tune of "where is thumbkin")

April 20, 2010

Sign for Ball

Posted by Kristi at 12:49 PM
Watch this great video with your little ones and learn the sign for "Ball".  The powers-that-be over at Baby Signs, Inc have teamed up with the Baby Einstein creators to come up with some pretty fun DVDs to help teach you baby to sign.  This one's part of the Park Signs

Also, if you are interested in getting any of these DVDs for your home collection, Baby Signs is running a great BOGO deal right now...check it out

April 15, 2010

Fun for Preschoolers

Posted by Kristi at 1:44 PM
Nothing excites me more than watching children's faces light up when they are excited!  I have incorporated the Sign, Say & Play(R) classes into my own circle time at my day care, and I have to tell you, it is a riot!!!  The class is all about signing and dancing and of course learning new signs.

We've really been spending a lot of time on the park signs to go along with the great weather we've been having.  A few days this week I was blessed to have my cousin's children attend the day care, and while they are not exposed to signing on a daily basis, you wouldn't know it when watching them dance around the room signing away!  I even caught the oldest (now 3) signing herself to sleep at naptime to the "pretty butterfly" song...too cute!!!

Something I have noticed this week, especially since I have had a lot of 3 and 4 year olds at the day care, is that introducing sign isn't just for the little ones.  The preschool age children LOVE to sing and dance, and learning sign is an extra bonus.  Like I told one of my parents the other day, they enjoy doing it because it is like a game to them -- something they can do with their hands :)

If you have been thinking about getting your children involved in signing but haven't because you feel they may be too old to actually get something from it, or even enjoy it; you couldn't be more mistaken.  My advise would be to go for it -- find a sign class near you and enroll, it will be worth it.  These classes (at least the Baby Signs(R) ones) aren't set up to be some monotonous educational workshop, but are set up to be PLAY CLASSES!  In my experience, it is fun for all ages!!!

April 14, 2010

Impact of Baby Signs(R) on Literacy

Posted by Kristi at 1:17 PM
Linda Acredolo, Ph.D. and Susan Goodwyn, Ph.D., Co-founders of Baby Signs, Inc. have done significant research on the many benefits of signing with your baby.

I was trying to find a way to tie signing in with one of our favorite ways to teach our babies and get them excited about learning -- reading!  Turns out that Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn have published the perfect acticle to make my point.

"In addition to the obvious importance of parents reading to their children, it turns out that adding signing to the mix makes a significant contribution by helping jumpstart development in a number of critical reading-relevant domains." Some examples:

Verbal language skills

Phonemic Awareness

Familiarity with print and enjoyment of books

Please follow the link and check out the Full Article, you'll be amazed on just how much everything ties together, and you may even wonder why more people aren't choosing to add sign to their story time!

April 10, 2010

Finding the Time

Posted by Kristi at 10:06 AM
Many parents often wonder, "when will I find the time", when it comes to starting sign with their children. Between diaper changes, feedings, play groups, and a slew of other "new parent innitiations" there never seems to be an available time to sit down and teach signs.

The truth is, if you are looking for a perfect time during the day to teach a sign, it's when you are busy doing all those other things. The natural tendencies of signing with children makes it easy to fit it into the day. Think about it, when you teach your child to wave bye-bye do you sit him/her down and practice it? No, you teach them when it makes sense...when someone is leaving! Likewise, the perfect time to teach your child to sign "eat/food" is when you are sitting down to eat; teach diaper when you are changing diapers; and don't get me started on all the opportunities to teach signs during a play group!

Many parents worry that it will be too time consuming to learn sign themselves in order to teach it to their children. That's the great part about it...you don't need to! Your children aren't expecting you to carry on in-depth conversations in sign language; they just need one sign. So here's a tip: before you go out for the day, think about the things you are going to see and find out the signs for those things. Taking a Zoo trip? Learn to sign Monkey, Lion, Butterfly, etc... Taking a trip to the park? Learn to sign Tree, Swing, Slide, etc... There are great on-line resources out there if you just want to learn a sign quickly. I really like http://www.aslpro.com/

Taking the time to learn even just a few signs will open a door of communication between you and your baby that you never thought possible. Babies really are very intelligent. We, as parents, are the ones missing out if we don't make the effort to communicate with them.

April 9, 2010

New Page, New Ideas

Posted by Kristi at 9:19 PM
Okay, I think I'm pretty happy with the page so far. What do you all think?

I have found that the more and more I get involved in the blogging world, the more I want to say. So, I'm thinking about adding another page to this blog. While I really want to get the word out about signing with babies, I also feel that I have a lot more to say about the work of child-rearing. As a child care provider, I have experienced many different scenarios and have been educated not only through experience, but through various books, classrooms, and conferences.

I'm not going to try to act as though I have all the answers, as any mom can tell you, no one does!!!! I simply want to be here to share my stories and insights...do with them what you want :) So please look for these posts in the future; I'm anxious to share!

Thanks...and let me know what you think of the new look!

April 8, 2010

Page Under Contruction

Posted by Kristi at 8:29 PM
Hello all followers (and hopefully some newcomers too!). As you can see the space is a little different. I am trying to find a template that is better suited for me.

Be that as it may, I am depressingly new at this, so it may take a few days. I could really use some feedback on my page though.


Sign for "Bird"

Posted by Kristi at 12:46 PM
One of our favorite signs in the house right now is "bird". Spring is in the air, and the birds are chirping their beautiful songs outside our windows. It's amazing watching how happy the little ones become when they realize that you hear the same thing they do...and that you understand that they are excited about it, too! Take a look at the video below and teach your children the sign for "bird".

April 7, 2010

Hop On Board the Potty Train

Posted by Kristi at 12:56 PM
Calling all potty training parents!!!! Wouldn't it be nice to have your little Princes and Princesses sitting on the throne before they turn two?

I know you may think it is too good to be true...it's not. Personally speaking, my oldest was trained by two, and my youngest (now 13 months) is about to begin.

Often, I hear from parents that they don't want to rush the process; that they are waiting for their little ones to be ready. While I can completely understand this way of thinking, it must be said that getting children on board the potty train before the age of two is actually easier.

That's right, I said easier.

Check out this video from the Baby Signs(R) Program, if it's something that you are interested in, let me know...you can order the kit from me directly :)

April 6, 2010

A Great Video

Posted by Kristi at 10:01 AM
Okay, it's a little technical, but this is a great video, giving you an idea of what the BabySigns(R) Program is all about. I'm thinking about posting a video of my own baby doing signs so you can see what it's all about without all the narration...still trying to convince the husband that it's okay to put her on here :) Enjoy!

April 2, 2010

Never too late to start

Posted by Kristi at 9:26 PM
I love my job.
I love that every day I get to wake up and play.
I love that I get to teach children all there is to know about the environment around them, and that I get to watch them freak out with elation when they see something like a bug for the first time!

The beautiful thing about incorporating sign into daily activities is that the children understand it even more. I don't get those awkward looks as if the child is thinking "I don't know chinese!"
It's almost as though the children automatically know how to sign when they are in their infant stages. Think about it; how quickly does a child learn to wave bye-bye? Or shake their head "no"? This is sign language!!!!! It is a totally natural thing for kids to pick up on.

Here's a great example. I started watching a new child at my day care this week. She is 18 months old and her verbal skills are coming along great, infact, she is a sponge; picking up on almost every new word she hears. Learning sign for her would be beneficial because it will help her put concepts together with the words she hears.

She has had no prior experience with being taught to sign. On her third day here she was signing "more", "help" and "all done". On her fourth day she made the sign for "food", and today, her fifth day, she made the sign for "bunny" (we were decorating Easter eggs). You can't tell me that this is not unbelievable!!!!

My point in sharing this with you is that it doesn't matter when you introduce sign. It's never too late. Honestly, the later you introduce it, the sooner they may pick it up; simply because they have developed the motor skills to make the signs.

Just try it. Who wouldn't love for their baby to be able to ask for help instead of crying for it?

March 30, 2010

The Beginning

Posted by Kristi at 9:30 PM

I'm starting this blog because I want all parents to teach their children to sign.
Is that too bold to say?
It's true.
I have not found one single parenting technique out there that can boast the benefits of teaching your children to sign.

I promise I'm not crazy, or some maniacal, sign language proponent that is here to make you feel inadequate as a parent if you don't choose to teach sign.

I'm not that heartless. Of course I don't judge you if this wasn't a choice you made. However, I'm still going to convince you to talk to other people about it!

My first introduction to signing with a hearing baby came a month after my first child was born. A friend was over visiting and simply asked if I was going to teach my baby to sign. Apparently, she had a relative that taught their daughter and it was "amazing"! My first reaction? Won't that keep my baby from speaking? No, I'm not doing it.

If my friend had known anything about it, she could have convinced me to do it right there on the spot. Instead, I put the thought away; until I was searching the internet one day and came upon Baby Signs. This program boasted being the original sign language for babies, and had somewhere near 20 years experience actually testing the differences in children who do and don't sign.

Turns out that teaching your baby to sign has been proven to do a few things:

>Reduce Frustration
>Strengthen Bonds
>Promote positive emotional development
>Boost your baby's self confidence
>Help your baby learn to talk sooner
>Provide a jumpstart in intellectual development (we're talking higher IQ's people!!)

Who wouldn't want these things for their child? You can't tell me your not at least curious.

So, here we go, this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Follow my blog for the latest information on signing with your baby. Along the way I'll share my own personal experiences and even help you get started or spread the word. As an Independent Certified Instructor for the Baby Signs(R) Program I will be holding classes and demonstrations in Metro-Detroit and the surrounding areas.

Remember the most important thing about signing with your baby is COMMUNICATION! Imagine being able to talk to your baby before he/she can talk.....


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