Tiny talkers make signs

I’ve done my share of singing nursery rhymes and miming out the actions in the time-honoured tradition of toddler groups.

Monday, 10th October 2011, 5:30 pm

The Wheels on the Bus, Incey Wincey Spider...I could probably still do the actions now if I tried.

But now a new Gainsborough group is taking it one step further by teaching babies and children proper sign language as they sing.

Kelly Hamilton, 32, is qualified in British Sign Language and has set up a Tiny Talk class at Morton village hall.

The mum-of-one, who lives near Lincoln but comes from Gainsborough originally, says the use of sign language helps very young children to communicate before they can speak.

Kelly takes her own 11-month-old son Seth to the sessions which last for an hour, half of hour of which is spent in singing and signing.

She said: “I know it works because I spent ages showing Seth the sign for milk and now, just before bedtime when he wants his milk, he will do the sign himself.”

“Children who haven’t yet learn to talk can get very frustrated at not being able to communicate what they want, and parents can get frustrated at not knowing what it is the child is trying to tell them.”

“We always say the word as we sign it so it promotes speech as well.”

Kelly said she decided to learn sign language as a hobby and because she thought it was a useful skill to have.

“I love learning new things so I went to evening class to do it. I was working as a veterinary nurse before and was going to go into the police but then I discovered I was pregnant so that didn’t happen.”

“Then I heard about Tiny Talk and decided to buy a franchise to do classes in Lincoln and Gainsborough. It works really well because I can take Seth with me so I’m saving on childcare.”

Kelly’s sister Karen Currie, 30, of Gainsborough, is one of the regulars at the Morton sessions, along with her daughter Amber, 13 months.

Karen said: “Whenever I give her milk I always do the sign as well and that seems to calm her down because she knows what’s coming.”

“It’s nice when you don’t know what they want if they can sign for it. Like if you go to the park and they do the sign for duck, you know they are learning something and you’re doing them some good.”

Karen said her four-year-old daughter Madison also likes to join in when they are singing rhymes and signing.

Jo Frost, 39, travels from Lincoln to the Morton group because it fits in with her day off from work.

She takes her son Emmett, who at 14 weeks was the youngest in the class.

Jo said: “Everyone I spoke to who had done it before was really positive and said it helps with good communication skills. Emmett seems to enjoy it and he likes to stare at people. It’s a good way for me to meet other people with babies as well.”

Claire Peckham, 39, of Kexby, was there with her 11-month-old son Ollie Bear. She said: “It’s great that you can really communicate with your baby.”

“It will make it easier for him to tell me what he wants.”

Sessions are on Fridays at 2pm and cost £4. Kelly can be contacted on 07900 957715.