I signed up for my Kindermusik Sign & Sing baby sign language class after reading several books about baby sign language and experiencing how hard it is to learn something like baby sign language out of a book. The baby sign language books were from the library. I copied the information I needed. This baby sign language photocopy glossary became a favorite thing for my 9 month old to reach for and crinkle up. Plus, learning baby sign language in conjunction with songs reminded me of fun activities like “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” that I used to do when I was a child. I was excited for my child to experience doing these types of baby sign language songs in the Sign & Sing class with other children.
There is one main reason baby sign language, a simplified version of sign language based on American Sign Language has been growing in popularity recently. A baby understands words long before they are able to reproduce them, usually not until around 2 years old, and a baby develops the ability to control their hands and fingers long before they are able to master all the skills and muscles in the mouth necessary to speak words that we can comprehend. Baby sign language is a way for a baby to communicate their wants and needs to us in that in between time and beyond. Baby sign language is taught to a baby as young as 6 months. The baby will likely start using it and making their own signs within several months. Research has shown that teaching a hearing baby sign language gives the child improved language skills. Hearing children using baby sign language don’t suffer from the fussiness caused by the frustration of not being able to communicate.
The first semester of my Kindermusik Sign & Sing baby sign language class cost me $89.50. The price included a one hour baby sign language class once a week for five weeks, an activity booklet and glossary DVD and baby sign language picture flashcards.
My Kindermusik Sign & Sing baby sign language class was small and casual. There were four children in my Sign & Sing class including my own. One girl who was about 18 months old already knew some sign language and was using sign language to ask for “more” and to say “please”. It was very encouraging, not to mention quite amazing, as she was the only child I’d ever seen using baby sign language and she hadn’t even gone through the class yet!
The curriculum provided in the Sign & Sing class by my certified Kindermusik instructor was almost overly simplistic. Many of the sign language words that we learned were repeated in each class with only a few new ones thrown in each week.
I was disappointed by the again, overly simplistic Kindermusik Sign & Sing baby sign language class activity booklet, glossary DVD and flashcards. The Kindermusik Sign & Sing DVD doesn’t include any songs! The activity book has four songs and if you can read music, you might be able to follow along.
We only really covered two or three of these songs in my Kindermusik Sign & Sing baby sign language class. Luckily, my Sign & Sing baby sign language instructor added three more, so we learned a total of five or six easy to remember baby sign language songs.
We covered about 75 baby sign language words. Many of these baby sign language words were not in the curriculum but were covered in the DVD or flashcards so my instructor showed them to us in the Sign & Sing class as well. About 10 of the baby sign language words that we learned like “hot”, “cold”, “touch”, and “dirty” were ones that weren’t covered by the Kindermusik Sign & Sing curriculum at all but were useful words that my instructor thought it important that we know and was kind enough to teach us. By the end of the Sign & Sing class we were able to say phrases like, “We’re going for a ride in the car”, “Don’t touch, it’s dirty,” or “Is the water too hot, does it hurt?” by using baby sign language.
The baby sign language words were taught to us in the Kindermusik Sign & Sing class along with the songs but also through activities with props including a jack-in-the box, a book, a towel, cars, egg shakers, scarves, teddy bears, flash lights and bubbles. The babies played with the props while the adults spoke to them while using the baby sign language. Some examples included hiding the bears and then asking in baby sign language, “Where is the bear? Is he hiding?” while using the signs for “where”, “bear” and “hiding”.
The children didn’t use any baby sign language signs while engaged in the activities in the Sign & Sing classes. In one of the later Sign & Sing baby sign language classes, the mother of the 18 month old girl mentioned above said her daughter had done all the signs in one of the songs while at home.
To my great surprise, even my 9 month old, who is not supposed to pick up on the baby sign language signs until after several months of continual use, did one. While on the street one day, he was in my arms and a woman was peeking at him saying, “I see you, I see you!” and sure enough, instead of just smiling, he put his fingers to his temple in a “V” shape and did the baby sign language sign for “see”.
Overall, my experience of the Kindermusik Sign & Sing baby sign language class was a positive one. My only cautions are not to expect much from the take home Kindermusik materials. The Sign & Sing baby sign language class is like any class, what you’ll get out of it is equal to what you are willing to put into it and of course, if you’re as lucky as I was to have an instructor willing to put into it that little bit extra.