When my youngest daughter was diagnosed with hearing loss, we knew right away we wanted to learn American Sign Language. Both my husband and I were interested in it before, but had not found the time to learn more than the handful of signs that new parents learn because that seems to be the thing to do. Unfortunately, there was not much help forthcoming from our local early childhood intervention office in this area. The only thing they suggested was to borrow Signing Time! videos from the public library.
Well, I had never heard of Signing Time! before then, so I immediately looked into it and purchased the first three videos. That may have been all that was available at that point. We began to watch them in the evenings as part of our bedtime routine. It was a great learning experience for us all. My oldest daughter learned very quickly; she was about three at the time we started. I can still remember being overwhelmed when the video would introduce more than one sign at a time.
Now, we wait anxiously for the new episodes to be available to buy or be on the local PBS station. (The PBS station puts them on in the wee hours of the morning so my TIVO has to catch them.) Thanks to TIVO, I have the next season’s episodes, ready for my dear husband to put on a dvd before I make the mistake of erasing them after watching.
In addition to Signing Time!, I have taken a couple “signing with babies” classes through a local center for the deaf and hard of hearing. I would also love to make it all the way through lifeprint’s site. I have started it a couple times, but need to commit myself to a certain amount each week in order to get through the whole class. I have also purchased several books and dictionaries; I will try to provide a list of those I found helpful later.
Since there was very little in the area for me when I discovered I had a child with a hearing loss, I decided to share what I have learned with others through an ASL playgroup for toddlers and preschoolers. Having been a teacher for seven years before “retiring” to have children of my own, it is nice to use those skills that I had not used in a while. For the last year and a half I have had two playgroup sessions a month, holding sessions first at the local library and now at a local church.
Each playgroup has a theme, like zoo animals, ABCs, feelings, things that go, and so forth. We read books, play games, do a craft, sing and sign songs, and sometimes watch a song from Signing Time! During all of the activities, we practice several signs that belong in the theme. I try to send home a page with drawings that remind the parents and kids of how to do the signs we have learned. I hope to put the plans for each playgroup up on my blog; I have already put a few ideas up on www.pwcasl.org and one clothing theme on my blog.