As a baby my daughter was very distressed, crying frequently, and, as a first-time mum, I often felt stressed and helpless to pacify her. When she was 5˝ months I heard about baby signing and its key benefits; giving babies the freedom and means to ‘talk’ before they can speak: helping to develop their understanding of the world around them, boosting their self-confidence and, crucially for us, taking the guesswork out of crying and so reducing frustration.
Within a few weeks, we had a different child. It was clear from her facial expressions/reactions that she understood what we were saying and she became calmer. She made her first hand signs (telling me she wanted 'milk', wanted 'more' and had had 'enough') at 12 months and she (and I) was delighted when she realised I’d understood. It was so exciting to see her ‘talking’ to us about her thoughts and feelings and, as her understanding increased, we all became much happier.
Going to class was our weekly highlight for 18 months, after which I had the chance to cover our teacher’s maternity leave. Sixteen months on (Jan 2013) I found myself taking over the reins fully. As a family, we had such a positive baby signing experience and, having swapped seats from Mum to Teacher, it’s now wonderful to be able to help so many others learn this invaluable skill too.
Baby signing is for everyone. Whether you're looking for a way to develop the communication and understanding between you and your baby, relieve frustrations or increase your family bond. Or perhaps you'd just like to join a lively group where you can have fun, learn a new skill and make new friends.
Of course, don't just take my word for it! Several of my families have shared their thoughts below which will hopefully, alongside a selection of class photos & video clips, give a real insight and visual flavour of my classes. The best way to find out though is to come and try it for yourself. Contact me now and step into the amazing world of baby signing!
Time for toys!
Two of our 50+ signing stars with their certificates; Charlotte & big brother, Ben
I think you, ‘Chris’, are very welcoming, friendly and animated and that’s fantastic for us adults and the babies. It helps engage the babies/children in the classes. I love the fact that [my son’s] face lights up with enthusiasm due to your interaction with him.”
STORY:I’d heard about baby signing and thought it was a really good idea to help with reducing baby/toddler frustrations. A way of communicating before speaking...I think [my son] loves the sessions. He gets really excited and loves the singing and the activities. I think he’s now beginning to understand what the signs mean.
Ben proudly showing off his 50th signing certificate!
Let's get started with our Welcome Song!
I love all of the interactive play with the props in order to explain the singing and the signing. It’s interesting / relevant and most of all ‘fun’! ... I also like the music section which is just for fun; it’s a nice relax for the children from the ‘learning’ aspect.”
STORY:[My son's] favourite sign at the moment is 'cow'. Cow seems to now be the standard sign for farmyard animals - he seems to have forgotten that he can also do 'sheep', 'pig' and 'goat'. However it's great to see when they notice things you don't, like when we were having breakfast the other morning (Weetabix and fruitpot!). He was getting to the end of his bowl when he started making the 'cow' sign. I said (& signing), "That's a very good sign for 'cow', but I can't see the cow. Where's the cow?" He kept looking at me and signing 'cow', so I gave up and kept feeding him. I then realised there was a cow on the bottom of his bowl! Clever boy!
Three little speckled frogs...
Haruki comes to say 'Hello!'
I’m pleased to be learning another language and learning songs to sing at home. It’s helped entertain at home and to learn a real variety of approaches to fun/play with my little one.”
STORY:[My daughter] is flourishing with signs - I must try and get her on camera for you. New this week are 'baby', 'daddy' (he is pleased!), 'please', 'cat', 'all gone' and regular clear use of 'more' which should really mean 'pudding'!
Instrument time - let's make some noise!
Congratulations Lucie! You won a book token in our Facebook competition. Enjoy your new book!
It's a really good opportunity for adults as well as babies to learn BSL and it is structured in a way that makes it very easy to learn and then teach to baby.”
STORY:I was motivated to come to TinyTalk initially after seeing my 18-month-old neice signing at Christmas. I was amazed at how much she could communicate. [My son] watches me and people around him more now, he takes everything in.
Chloe joins me in Half Term for some 'round and round the garden' tickles!
Thank you so much for everything the past 2 terms - you've been truly wonderful! We will miss you and your classes lots; we have enjoyed them and all the lovely mums and babies we've met, and most of all - your singing!”
STORY:Our nephew is 5 years old and has speech problems. Having seen his struggle to communicate, I was keen to make sure that [my daughter] has a way to communicate from as early as possible. She enjoys the stimulation that the classes provide. She also benefits as I can sing more songs at home than I would otherwise have known.
'We're going on a bear hunt...'
Are we ready to go driving?
All parents should do these classes. Why miss out on all this wonderful early communication and insight into your child's development? No crying at bedtime, [my daughter's] desire to have her milk and then to lie down are perfectly clear through signing. There would be tears if we didn't have this fantastic form of communication!”
STORY:Charlotte, a 50+ signing star at 18 months, shows us the signs for: 'dog', 'cat', 'horse', 'book', 'milk', 'banana', 'monkey' and 'nappy'.
'I'm driving in my car, I'm driving in my car...'
'Beep Beep, Toot Toot, We're driving round a bend...'
I'm really pleased about carrying on the classes...I really look forward to them each week and [my son] lights up when we come along!”
STORY:And here, Charlotte shows us the signs for: 'aeroplane', 'nappy', 'hat', 'dinosaur', 'baby' and 'bear'.
Congratulations Mayumi! You've won a TinyTalk ecobag in our advent calendar competition (2012).
Thank you so much for the fantastic classes - we've had a great time and made sure to vote for you in the What's on for Little Ones awards best leader category: I hope you get it!”
Katie, Goring on Thames
STORY:[Our son] has been signing 'bird' for about 2 weeks now, but he really impressed a neighbour on Monday morning when we were out in the pushchair. I had stopped to talk to Ros whom we had met in the street and [he] did his usual beaming smile and wave to her then said "oh!" and pointed up at a roof nearby and made the 'bird' sign - there was a white dove sitting on the corner of the roof looking down at us! I said "clever boy! that's right it's a bird!" and made the sign back at him. Our neighbour was impressed firstly that he had seen the bird and then that he had made the sign so clearly and drawn our attention to it!
We've really enjoyed the sessions...it's a fantastic class you run, Chris. ”
STORY:[Our son] started to respond to the sign for 'milk' after about two weeks of repeatedly using the sign and saying the word each time we fed him a bottle. We pointed at the bottle and did the sign and he clearly looked from bottle to sign. The first few times he responded it was when the bottle was visible, but then we tried doing just the signing without the bottle, and his reaction was evident [see the video clip on the Introduction page!]. This is really exciting given we have been going to classes for only a few weeks. We think he understands because he doesn't respond in the same way when he isn't hungry. He is only five months old, but we're pleased that we started early and can look forward to adding more signs and hopefully seeing him make his first sign.
Ready for our 'walkabout' songs?
Here we go: 'Oh the Grand Old Duke of York...'
I have thoroughly enjoyed the term so far and feel [my son] has enjoyed it too - when he has been awake that is! So thank you for making it so enjoyable and I shall definitely recommend it to my friends. ”
STORY:We saw Santa yesterday afternoon so there was a lot of wiggling and 'reindeer' signs and 'snow' from me and Nana! It was brilliant and [she] stayed in her elf costume which went down well with Santa and his elves!
'We're going on a bear hunt'...
'Oh no! It's a bear!...
I've enjoyed meeting other mums and learning something new. The class moves quickly but I think this is good so the babies stay interested.”
STORY:I first heard about you guys from my sister-in-law when she took my nephew to classes about 5 years ago. I never really placed much importance or had much interest in signing in general – and yes, I was one of many mums that thought it may impede my baby’s speech – how wrong could I have been! My friend just happened to mention your classes and how amazing it all was so I decided to give it a go. Well, it soon became obvious why she found it so rewarding...
Even without the signing, we both feel it’s a great baby group. With work being so busy, it’s hard to take [my son] to many playgroups so he doesn’t get much chance to interact with other babies, and me with other mums! The signing is great as I feel it brings a deeper connection between [my son] and I, and amongst the babies in the class as well. It’s a fantastic way for them to develop all sorts of communication skills – socially and intellectually, in a VERY relaxed and friendly environment.
The most important element is simply that the classes are very intimate and 'easy-going' – the babies are learning invaluable skills without knowing they are learning!...
Another TinyTalker drifts off after a fun-filled class!
Spot this year's joint fancy dress winners - Rosie & Mum Alison in matching reindeer onesies! (2012)
A friend recommended the classes. [TinyTalk is] really engaging for the children. We are really enjoying it. Thank you!”
STORY:...just had to tell you, that when I went in to a crying [daughter] this morning, she was frantically signing 'milk'!... she was unfortunately ill with a bad cold. We went into her and she was frantically making the ‘milk’ sign, having previously not done it. We got her some milk and she settled quickly after that! I am so amazed how quickly she has caught on. So pleased I found TinyTalk!
Sadly unable to join us on the day, little snowflake Elvie recovering from croup. Great costume Mum!
Signing a festive 'hug'!
A friend recommended [the classes]...very good teacher. My favourite parts are the singing and playtime.”
STORY:Her signing has really come on...She is especially very good at the signs for special treats like ‘biscuit’ and when she really wants something she shouldn’t really have, she has perfected ‘please’! So we can’t resist giving it to her, as she is being so polite!!
Santa's little helper, Lillie, proudly shows that she has the most festive bottom!
Christmas signs (2012): 'Christmas tree'
What would I say are the most important elements of a class? The 'surprises / what's in the box?'! ”
STORY:I got a mixed reaction when I told my parents that I was starting baby sign language classes with my 5-month-old daughter. My mum was interested to hear more about it but my dad was quite negative and sceptical. Over the next few months my mum tried to learn a few signs but my dad remained unconvinced by it all.
It wasn’t until we met them for a pub lunch a few months later that his attitude changed. My daughter was at the head of the table, with dad sat furthest away from her at the other end. While we were all chatting I noticed that she was waving at my dad and signing ‘grandad’ to him. He clearly hadn’t picked up on her signs so I told him what she was doing and he started to watch her hands more intently. By the end of lunch, totally unprompted, he said and signed, ‘I’m grandad’ to her! I was so pleased, and so was she!
He made a lot more effort to learn some signs after this, so he could communicate more easily and understand what she was thinking, feeling, wanted etc. It was great to see him interacting so much more freely with her and I’m happy to say that, now he’s experienced the benefits of baby signing first hand, he’s completely changed his opinion about this incredibly useful skill!
Reindeer Rosie, do you know where my Christmas tree prop is?!
Christmas signs (2012): 'Santa Claus'
Entertaining and educational classes! Really enjoyed the class.”
STORY:I am delighted to say that yesterday morning whilst sitting in her highchair waiting for breakfast [our daughter] signed 'eat'. Clear as can be for all to see. My Mum and [husband] say they have seen her do lots of signing for some time but I was always waiting to be sure. To make the point she then stood up in her cot last night and did the sign for 'milk' so we had a double whammy. I'm delighted and can't wait for her to do them again/her next sign.
Rosie, a superstar 50+ signer, ready to take the class!
Rosie's 50th sign certificate!
Excellent teaching. Thank you Chris for being approachable to discuss extra signs/queries. We are looking forward to next term.”
STORY:Thanks for the lovely certificate you presented to [my daughter] on Friday...I'm pleased to say that [she] signed 'duck' many times today at every swan and goose we saw!
All that fun takes it toll - but means a quiet trip home for mummy!
Evie signs 'star'
I love learning the signs - it is a good mental boost for a stay-at-home mum! Using the new signs in songs helps me to remember them.”
STORY:...we are really enjoying the extra communication. [Our son] is really keen and my husband and I are blown away, he is saying more each day at the moment. After the trial class [our son] did the sign for 'milk' and 'food' the same day. During the third class he did the sign for 'Daddy' as soon as we learnt it and then at home that night did 'more' asking for more juice. The same day he [also] did 'slide'!
Rosie joins me in signing 'rainbow'
George - enjoying mummy's (!) well-earned biscuit
One of my close friends did [TinyTalk] and recommended it. Really enjoying the classes and Chris is always open to questions/suggestions.”
STORY:My baby has started to recognize signs so I can use them to see what he wants e.g. I ask if he wants milk, he smiles if he does but turns away if not!
Relaxing after one of our summer holiday sessions
I enjoy the signs, the songs and interaction. The overall class is well-structured - good pace and very clear. ”
STORY:It has proven useful for work - a harassed mum of a 7-year-old with special needs was signing to her son and trying to get her shopping done in my store, and I was able to distract him with something from TinyTalk which was lovely for us all!
Lillie proudly shows off her outfit for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee!
Lucas brings Mum & Dad to celebrate his 1st birthday in class
[My son] can communicate that he wants milk and food so far. All of [the class] is good. It's great to have a chance to play/chat at the end...good class - we are enjoying it greatly! ”
Pri, East Hanney
Bobby - just checking the words to our next song!
...and getting stuck in with a shaker!
[My daughter is] socialising with other babies, learning new songs and experimenting with instruments.”
...a key festive sign - Christmas cake!
[My son] loves the music, socialising with other children and enjoys watching hand movements. At storytime it's good to watch the signs and have quiet time for the babies. The change from floor, to seat, to action songs is really good - keeps children's attention. We love the class - and you've got an amazing voice!”
Possibly the cutest ever Christmas pudding? (2011)
A very festive fancy dress family - worthy winners! (2011)
What is my least favourite part of a class? GOING HOME!”
Alice - our very own Christmas fairy (2011)
Molly looking the part for our Christmas class (2011)
My husband is deaf so I thought [the classes] would help my daughter to communicate with him...she seems to really enjoy the social interaction with other babies and the singing/liveliness of the class. I have learnt a lot of different signs which I seem to have remembered - I didn't think I would remember so many so quickly! I really enjoy the 'walkabout' section particularly - also, it's a bit of exercise for me!!”
Thank you so much for the attention you have given [my son and daughter] - much appreciated. We have all enjoyed it and learnt so much.”
- Rebecca, Wallingford
It's not the most important part - but the coffee/drink and free play is nice to end the session.”
- Rebecca, Wallingford
I came with my older child. [Now my daughter] enjoys it and has started signing. She sees lots of little ones her age. Signing in songs is useful and fun.”
- Helen, Wallingford
It's a great way to spend Friday morning fully focussed on [my daughter]. We love it, thanks!”
- Sue, Warborough
[My son] has loved the rhymes and music and smiles whenever I sign. Thank you for a great term. We have really enjoyed it and learnt lots.”
- Anne, Wallingford
[I was] interested in trying something new and a bit different...[my daughter has] increased her awareness and interaction with others. [I have] made new friends and learnt new nursery rhymes. It has been a well-structured class. We have really enjoyed the class and will recommend it to others.”
- Sarah, Benson
Thoroughly enjoy it - keep it up!”
- Rebecca, Benson
TinyTalk delivers quality instruction for a reasonable price.”
- Juliet, Chiselhampton
[My son] really enjoys the class and can be very focussed on the activities (which is rare for him)...We both really love your classes. Thank you!”
- Juliet, Chiselhampton
[It's a] fun, structured class for a variety of ages.”
- Nell, Crowmarsh Gifford
Great range of songs, amount of toys and props...I feel the classes are generally very well-run; Chris – you have a fab voice and a very easy-going nature which both child and parent warm to and enjoy! I can see much work goes into the planning of these classes – truly good value for money too! I definitely would recommend your classes to others – [my friend] and I have always said that it’s just a lovely group.”
- Mayumi, Shillingford
...without a doubt this has been the best class we have done for babies and mums.”
- Laura, Drayton
Do [I] have any suggested improvements to the classes? None – it is brilliant and I feel very comfortable coming and participating. It's all just right and the opportunity to email you through the week with news and questions is very helpful.”
- Gill, Christmas Common
[Chris has] been an excellent teacher, very clear and enthusiastic.”
- Alison, Aldworth
[The class pace and flow is] just right. I feel like I have settled in well and didn't feel overwhelmed. Very enthusiastic [teacher]; really good – I couldn't be that enthusiastic every week!”
- Alison, Wallingford
It has been good to learn new songs and remember old ones. I also enjoyed learning the signs, as a new mum you do sometimes feel that your brain has left the building and it was good to focus on something practical.”
- Laura, Drayton
Tinytalk is best at combining all elements of play, i.e. using toys, props, music, rhymes and movement to provide fun-packed and entertaining classes in which to learn signs. The children can associate well with the signs (as most of their waking life is play!) so it is easy not only to learn but to remember!”
- Mayumi, Shillingford
We've learnt so many signs and can communicate with one another as well as with other family members. It has been nice meeting other parents and the signing, music and fun aspects all make it a very enjoyable morning.”
- Gill, Christmas Common
I went with my older daughter and enjoyed it so much I wanted to come back with my younger daughter. I have an enjoyable activity to take both children to...I've been reminded of signs I knew and learned some new ones.”
- Rachel, West Hagbourne
[It's a] great social event, plus [my baby] seems to light up as soon as she comes in the room...[a] very enthusiastic and fun approach. We enjoy our classes very much.”
- Amy, Lower Basildon
[We had] heard good feedback [and] liked the idea of being able to have increased pre-verbal communication. [My son] clearly enjoys the lesson, interacting and picking up signs. [TinyTalk] creates a relaxed and positive environment for learning and socialising. Keep it up!”
- Andrew, Cholsey
[My son] really enjoys the classes... I also enjoy the classes and it is a nice way to spend a morning with other mums.”
- Alison, Aldworth
It's presented professionally while still being fun for the children.”
- Rachel, West Hagbourne
Enjoyed learning / teaching the signs, meeting everyone and having a happier toddler!”