Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Savannah's signing away

Yes, that says signing, not singing. My daughter will not. stop. signing.
As in sign language. I'm beginning to wonder if this is normal or if it's turning into some sort of obsession. She signs all day long. And all night. The few times I lay with her for a few minutes at bedtime, I have to hold her hands because she will just lay there and make letter signs to herself.
She *loves* to not speak to me, and talk to me by signing whatever it is she wants to tell me or ask me. She gets a kick out of signing to me because it's "quiet time" and she's not supposed to talk. Or if she's playing outside, and I'm inside and she's talking to me through the window but I can't hear her so she has to sign to me.
Little did I know, teaching her signs before she could talk would turn into such a fun "hobby" for her.

When I was in elementary and early jr high school, I was in the TAG program at school and I took a few classes of sign language. I loved learning "another language" that not everyone could understand. I taught my best friend some basic signs and we were both "fluent" in finger spelling. Well, I remember many a Sunday morning sitting in church when we were like 12 or 13 years old spending the whole church service "talking" to each other, spelling out words in ASL non-stop. We always sat together in the back, but our parents wouldn't allow us to pass notes to each other, and of course we couldn't whisper the whole time, so we would sit back there and gossip and talk our pre-teen girl talk with our hands.
Savannah kind of reminds me of doing that when I was younger, the way she enjoys using signs so creatively to get her point across in so many situations.

And I do mean creatively. I have no idea how many actual signs she knows, but she tries to make up her own on a daily basis as well. She'll ask me for a sign..."mom how do you say whatever..." and if I don't know she'll make it up, "I think it looks like this...". She comes up with some pretty crazy contortions for her little hands.

So her new favorite show to watch on tv is Signing Time. It's only on once a week right now, new, on our PBS station, but she waits all week for it, and when Monday finally rolls around, she waits all morning for it. Each show has a theme, such as playtime, or school, or family and friends. And this half hour is jam-packed with new signs; I'm talking like over 30 signs for things from colors to feelings to objects and actions. They introduce so many new signs, and each week I am AMAZED at how many of these signs Savannah retains. The show is pretty neat, the way they introduce the signs... they have the "host" Rachel sign the word, explaining a connection to the word and the sign, and then they show different children doing the sign and giving examples of what the word is. After a group of six or so words, they sing a song that incorporates all the words you've learned so far in that show.
After last Monday's show, that evening when Ryan came home from basketball, I asked Savannah if she wanted to show him any new signs she learned that day. She told/signed him these complete sentences, "My name is Savannah. I'm ready to go to school. I put on my backpack."(the colored words are the ones she signed while she said it) Except for spelling her name, those were all new signs from that morning that she remembered on her own. She also remembered a dozen words like write, draw, paint, scissors, glue, pencil, crayons, and teacher. I have to say I am pretty impressed with her. I kind of want to buy the Signing Time Videos. Savannah would be in heaven. Anyway, if you have kids, check out this show or the videos. Kids really do have fun with this.

I've contemplated before, completing a Sign Language Interpretation program. Many community colleges offer them, and I've looked into it a couple different times, as I've always had a little experience with signing. From enjoying learning it as a child, I volunteered a bit with developmental kids in school and they use a lot of signs, and then in the private school I last taught at, ASL was part of the curriculum from the toddler and preschool classes all the way up through the first grade classes. That was pretty neat. Anyway, I've often thought I would enjoy officially learning ASL and interpretation because it seems that could be used in so many different ways; whether it's as an actual interpreter or working with deaf or developmental kids, I would think there would be a lot of avenues to make that "degree" useful.
Right now, I'm feeling pressure to go ahead with that program just because my daughter wants to learn everything about signing. I feel like I need to take those classes just to keep up with her!!!

Seriously, I'm just happy that she enjoys learning this stuff and that she is so ready to absorb so much of it. Who knows, maybe by getting this early start in it, she'll do something with ASL or the deaf community when she grows up.


Debbie Sanders said...

Wow! Way to go, Savannah! She is definitely one smart cookie, but that is so awesome that she is picking up sign language so well and so quickly on her own initiative! I am so impressed with her! Tell her she is doing a great job! I can't wait to see her sign a whole sentence like you stated....Just a side note, we have been having snow here at our home! It began snowing on Monday, continued on Tuesday and it is still cold and we still have some snow on the ground and on our deck. Pretty crazy for Oregon to have snow so early! Our love to all!
Love, Mom/Gramma Debbie
P.S. We have been praying for Sawyer and are so glad to hear he is doing better. Fevers can be confusing and not always pan out to be anything but a fever, so it is hard to know what is going on with them. I hope he will be 100% himself very soon!

Rachel Coleman said...

Sounds like Savannah maybe a tactile or kinesthetic learner. So many kids that REALLY take to signing, almost without thinking about it, fall into one of those
learning styles.

Many children love the "game" of signing. Being able to say so much without saying a word. My younger daughter Lucy, age 6- knows that she gets my undivided attention if she signs, since I am totally focused on what she is signing. Yes, she has figured out, Mommy pays closer attention when signed to!

Leah my older daughter is deaf (sometimes people don't realize that Leah in Signing Time is my daughter) and she would babble with her hands as a baby and toddler. By the time she was 2, she was playing fingerspelling/manual alphabet games!

If you haven't - start singing the alphabet song and sign it as you sing - she will start spelling things all around the house (if she isn't already).

Another game is to pick a hand shape and take turns coming up with a different sign that uses that hand shape. Take turns until one of you can't come up with one. Example: using the "S" hand shape- YES, APPLE, CRACKER, ONION, ICE CREAM, WORK.

And I have to say your write up on Signing Time is so perfect and well written! I would love it if you would add it as a testimonial on

Keep signing Savannah!