Emily & Scarlet went to Sign & Sing on Wednesday…


Emily and Scarlet love their little quests and adventures. If food is not in the mix, they do love their little natters and giggles. On Wednesday we did something a little different. Whilst they have in the past done a strange hippy sensory group, Clare and I decided that we should try something different with our girls and what better than a Sing and Sign baby and toddler group. The workshop happens across Thanet, Herne Bay and Whitstable, and we visited the Corner Coffee House and Soft Play in Ramsgate at 10am Wednesday morning with a whole bunch of other little boys and girls willing to learn and meet new friends.

Run by Helen Weidner, she first came across “Sing and Sign baby signing classes when my eldest daughter, Ada, was 7 months old. I was looking to have some fun with my baby and meet some local mums. What we actually found was just that and more. An amazing experience; one which honestly changed our lives! She could tell us how she felt, what she wanted, what interested and amused her well before she could speak. At 8 months, after only signing with her for a month, she signed ‘bird’ in the park. She knew around 200 signs by 18 months so we could have basic conversations. Her social skills and temperament were also brilliantly developed by Sing and Sign as a baby: she started learning to take turns with Jessie Cat and signing removed the frustration of not being able to communicate such that the “terrible twos” never materialised! Now she is five, people comment on her advanced speech and understanding and they use the same signs at her school. We are now loving seeing those same benefits all over again with her little sister Beatrice.”

There are many benefits to using sign with children and we thought this could be a great way for our girls to start learning through practical experience. I can sign, well, that’s sort of true, I can sign my name and have through the years picked up a few sign signs but I would love to learn more, it’s just is this something I should do myself or with Emily?
Signing benefits include:
• Helping to understand your baby’s needs, thoughts and ideas
• Reducing frustration (for baby and parent!)
• Enhancing early vocabulary and understanding
• Encouraging the development of speech
• Enriching your baby’s relationships
• Building confidence and self-esteem
• Stimulating your baby’s intellectual and emotional development

Whilst the whole hour was good fun, I spent most of my time running around after Emily who felt the need to break free as Scarlet giggled and watched. Emily, with another boy, tried their luck constantly, pulling out of things, trying to stand up and swing out of window blinds, try and pull down the toy box that was no longer part of that session, take toys off each other and put as much stuff into their mouths as they could. Don’t get me wrong the group is great. It’s fun, musical and brings back many of those memories from my childhood singing nursery rhymes, which admittedly I thought I knew better, but overall it was a good craic. The downside is, Emily wouldn’t sit still. She just wanted to go-go-go. So her attention wasn’t at all to do with singing or signing. I learnt about 2 signs and still got all the words wrong for the colours of the rainbow, even though we did all sing it 4 times! Next term is £70 starting 17th October for 10 sessions. For me, this is totally pointless. Most of the session I suppose is for the parents to learn and pass on to their children, but with Emily being so uninterested in the actual group and more interested in her escape, it would be a waste of money for us. Scarlet enjoyed the group and Clare learnt a lot more than me, that I might have to learn a few more sings (and songs) from her directly.
What I will say is at least we found a new coffee shop and soft play centre, although small for more than a few kids to play it, it is nice to know that we have a soft play area very close to my home. Just a 5-minute walk from me, the soft play centre on Newington Road is great for meeting other parents and for Emily to stretch those little legs of hers.

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