reflections of motherhood…

pregI was desperate to get pregnant. I used to visit friends with tiny babies and feel an ache inside like I was missing a loved one I’d never met.

When I first saw that positive pregnancy test my excitement knew no bounds. I was so so happy!

And then…..I HATED IT.

I hated almost every moment! I was sick for 18 weeks straight, had a brief reprieve, then launched in to extremely debilitating pelvis pain. And that’s not to mention the mental battles of a lack of control over your body and emotions. Suddenly, my ‘wedding dress ready’ body that used to hold itself up all on on its own was enormous and looked like I’d gone a few rounds in a ring with a big cat! And I wont mention the general public! OK I will…total strangers touching me and talking about my weight. “Oh it must be twins” “how are you coping in this heat at that size” – Errr I’m growing a human inside me, leave me alone.

But, I’ve done it THREE times! Because in the end, it is a wonderful thing, and I know loads of you have had it worse.

In truth there are three things I loved…

1) The general public. I know, I know I just said I hated them, but I also loved them. Pregnancy brings smiles and happiness wherever you go. People hold doors for you and are polite. And a staff member once let me use the toilet in a busy fast food restaurant in New York, standing outside pointing & shouting ‘Only this pregnant lady can use this toilet’!! (true story)

2) Eating ‘Wispa Gold’ chocolate bars for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not giving a hootenanny!

3) I really loved feeling the baby moving inside. It can be annoying of course, keeping you up at night and making you need to pee! But I loved that short time when the baby will start to wriggle and kick when you drink a glass of cold water or when they stretch out now that you are lying down and still. All those little nudges felt like our special secret, a connection and the beginning of our partnership. And it was.

Depositphotos_20208257_original.jpgOnce my first born came into the world with all the calm civility of a police battering ram I was lucky enough to fall for my secret love in the real world.

We worked through all the post birth trauma together and started to settle into maternity leave as it should be – loads of chocolate and box sets and setting the goal of achieving but one thing a day.

We learned about reflux and needing several changes of clothes a day, about ‘poohnarmi’s’ and mid morning bath times.

But, as it turned out I was so taken up with my romantic notion of pregnancy, I hadn’t given much thought to how I was going to actually look after a baby. I knew everything there was to know about pregnancy and labour but was completely at sea when it came to knowing what was going on with my little person. Shock, horror! I couldn’t believe this stuff hadn’t come naturally to me! As if by the process of birth I would suddenly know how to feed, bath and dress them.

I did so many things the hard way because when its the first time doing anything, how do you know any different? At 4pm, when your partner isn’t due home til six and you’re bouncing round on 3 hours sleep and 12 coffees it seems perfectly reasonable to repeat the box step move from aerobics classes of old, clutching the baby to your chest and singing out ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ because its the longest song you know, totally convinced by the end of it they’ll be asleep. Sleep oh please sleep!

Then we made a small change that had a big impact. When she was about 6 months old we started to learn sign together, and it blew our tiny minds!

I could signing bedask her if she wanted more food or to go to bed. She could tell me she was hungry or felt pain. We could enter into conversations.

Her: ‘milk’ ‘bed’

Me: ‘wait’ until we are ‘home’.

Her: ‘HOME’ and so on.

It wasn’t a magic fix, she couldn’t produce the right sign at the right time in every situation because she’s a person and affected, like the rest of us, by fatigue, noise and complex emotions all interfering, often at once. I later became a teacher for the company and saw so many mums come to classes going through the exact same thing. It was such a joy to see them find signing to be useful and get that little win when their baby signed ‘milk’ for the first time.

Getting out to the Little Signers Club classes, gave us a goal and meant we learned together a way of making our lives easier. It allowed a deeper connection that others weren’t a part of at the beginning, we understood each other. It felt like another layer of the secret understanding that started way back when we were one.

Bethan blogBethan writes with grace and humour about the highs and lows of mothering (not one but three small people), her love of signing and her experiences as a former Little Signers Club Leader in the South West.  

 

You can start signing with your little one today! Sign up, FREE, for our first signs for babies and toddlers class – tips, first signs and practical how to’s from expert teachers at Little Signers Club. 

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Little Signing Sack; Five Little Ducks

Little signing sack

Interactive signing fun for your little one – with Little Signers Club  weekly (virtual) Little Signing Sacks!

 

Each week we’ll be popping a new video sign or two up on our Facebook page that you can use with your baby or toddler; learn new signs, favourite nursery rhymes and if you want to, a recommendation for a lovely themed book to purchase or get from the library.

This week, the lovely nursery rhyme ‘Five Little Ducks’.

With Spring now officially here, hopefully you’ll be out and about a little more and can go and see the ducks for yourself.  The Duck sign is always popular with small people so be prepared to practice a lot!

Step One: you’ll need your sign!

Click the links for the BSL Sign for DUCK

Step Two: a favourite rhyme to practice them with!

(bolded words are words to sign along to)

Five little ducks went swimming one day

Over the hills and far away

Mother duck said quack quack quack quack

But only four little ducks came back

Four little ducks went swimming one day

Over the hills and far away

Mother duck said quack quack quack quack

But only three little ducks came back

Three little ducks

Two little ducks

One little duck went swimming one day

Over the hills and far away

Mother duck said quack quack quack quack

And all five ducks came swimming back!

 …

Step Three: a story to snuggle up and enjoy together

TNMD

Lovely (and always really engaging) touchy-feely books from Usborne which you can find just here!

We hope you enjoy this weeks Virtual Signing Sack from Little Signers Club. If you have something you’d like to see as part of the Little Signing Sack, please pop by and let us know over on our Facebook page.

Until next week….. “Keep Signing!”

Little Signing Sack; Little Red Tractor

Little signing sackInteractive signing fun for your little one – with Little Signers Club  weekly (virtual) Little Signing Sacks!

Each week we’ll be popping a new video sign or two up on our Facebook page that you can use with your baby or toddler; learn new signs, favourite nursery rhymes and if you want to, a recommendation for a lovely themed book to purchase or get from the library.

This week my boy is Two. And he is Tractor mad. So this week, just because I can and because I know it will delight lots of small people everywhere, we have The Little Red Tractor which is a fabulous interactive song that your little one will love.

Step One: you’ll need your sign!

Click the links for the BSL Sign for TRACTOR

Step Two: a favourite rhyme to practice them with!

(bolded words are words to sign along to, tune is Bobby Shaftoe)

Bouncing up and down

(place your baby / toddler on your knee; bounce up and down together)

on my little red tractor

Bouncing up and down

on my little red tractor

Bouncing up and down

on my little red tractor

We can bring in the hay, hey!

 …

Step Three: a story to snuggle up and enjoy together

That's not my tractor

which you can find just here!

We hope you enjoy this weeks Virtual Signing Sack from Little Signers Club. If you have something you’d like to see as part of the Little Signing Sack, please pop by and let us know over on our Facebook page.

Until next week….. “Keep Signing!”

Little Signing Sack; Incey Wincey

Little signing sack

 BRAND NEW!

Interactive signing fun for your little one – with Little Signers Club  weekly (virtual) Little Signing Sacks!

 

Each week we’ll be popping a new video sign or two up on our Facebook page that you can use with your baby or toddler; learn new signs, favourite nursery rhymes and if you want to, a recommendation for a lovely themed book to purchase or get from the library.

This week we wanted to treat you to Incey Wincey Spider – always a great favourite in our parent and baby / toddler classes as well as being perfect for learning how to sign Rain… and lets face it, there is a lot of rain around right now!

Step One: you’ll need your signs!

Click the links for BSL Signs for RAIN and SPIDER

Step Two: a favourite rhyme to practice them with!

(bolded words are words to sign along to)

Incey Wincey Spider

Climbed up the water spout

Down came the rain

And washed the spider out

Out came the sunshine

And dried off all the rain

And Incey Wincey Spider

Climbed up the spout again

Step Three: a story to snuggle up and enjoy together

incey wincey

which you can find just here!

We hope you enjoy this weeks Virtual Signing Sack from Little Signers Club. Please pop by and let us know what you thought over on our Facebook page.

Until next week….. “Keep Signing!”

Signing for Early Years Settings – New Training Announced!

We’re really pleased to announce our new Signing for Early Years Training that we are gearing up for around the country this year!

Signing for Early Years Professionals with Communication Development Training (birth to five years)

Confirmed Dates:

Cambridgeshire:   Sunday 23rd March at The Little Miracles Centre, Peterborough

Hertfordshire:      Saturday 26th April at Orchard Children’s Centre, Tring

London:                 Saturday 28th June venue TBC

Tyne and Wear:   Saturday 26th July venue TBC (Newcastle)

What can you expect?

Little Signers Club is offering you the opportunity to be a part of our developing Early Years Programme that will help change young children’s lives for the better.

Join us for a fun and informative half day training session with practical outcomes that can be implemented immediately!

• LEARN the benefits of signing

• SUPPORT speech development

• ENHANCE communication interactions

• INTRODUCE basic first signs at your workplace, setting, home or club

• REDUCE tantrums, frustration, stress ( we guarantee it )

• OFFER peace of mind

 Our Communication Development Training is delivered by a Lead Practitioner for the Early Language Development Programme – a D of E initiative with I CAN to raise awareness of the importance of Early Years Communication and Language.

Our Signing for Early Years Settings Training has been especially developed to support anyone working in early years to aid pre-verbal communication and how signing supports and enhances speech development. We also look at respectful, responsive care and how signing encourages both, leading to far less distress, upset and misunderstanding and ensuring that even a young child can have their basic needs met.

Speech, Language and Communications Skills throughout the UK are at a critical level (Berkow Review 2008).

Using signing, in conjunction with speech, is a simple but effective way to build language and communication skills inclusively. Help even very young children to develop confidence that their need to can be understood.

*Resources and printables included.

Who should attend?

• Children’s Centre Staff

• Health Visitors

• Nursery Nurses

• Family Support Workers

• Outreach Workers

• Pre-school Staff

• Nannies

• Childminders

• Teachers

• Parents

**ADVANCE BOOKING REQUIRED**

Who to Contact: hq@littlesignersclub.co.uk for more information and booking forms. 

Show me!

In the past we have talked about how toddler tantrums can stem from the requirement to have one or more of four immediate needs met – the need to eat, drink, sleep or receive comfort – and how this has been reported to be the trigger for up to 90% of tantrums for small people.  We’ve also talked about how toddlers who receive a response and have these needs met, can move onto higher level learning, engaging their interests elsewhere.

At this stage even more frustration can manifest itself as a lack of vocabulary to explain concepts or objects that are required right now (!) to you become apparent.  A toddlers understanding is 6 months ahead of their ability to express themselves – what a hugely frustrating and overwhelming time for our small people.

Over the years I have become adept at handling this, calming the storm of upset and miscommunication with two simple words:

‘Show me’….

It wasn’t until I was delivering some training for Early Years professionals at one of my regular Twilight Sessions that I realised that this was a piece of information that everyone would find useful.  And it can be applied to older babies, toddlers and older children too. All young children struggle with vocabulary and frequently get upset and frustrated.

‘Show me’…

When you see your baby or young child becoming upset, ask (and sign) if you can HELP. Wait for your child to respond. If they become agitated or upset again, simply say, ‘Show me’. Over 3 children and nearly 8 years, my experience has been that a small child will calm down almost immediately upon hearing these words.

Younger babies can be carried on a hip and will generally gesticulate in the direction that they need your attention.

Babies who are on the move will crawl in the direction that you are needed.

Toddlers will eagerly grasp your hand and drag you to where they feel they need help.

But the calm descends first.  Your child has your attention. You have recognised the need for help and responded appropriately.

show me‘Show me’…

Once your child has shown you what it is that they want or need – a drink from the kitchen, a train that has got stuck, a cat on the windowsill – you can use this opportunity to show your little one the sign and use the correct words to describe what they are seeing.  It also helps you to understand your child’s higher level learning – what motivates and interests them.

 

This has two benefits;

  1. for pre-verbal children, you have given them the ability to communicate for themselves, without distress, in the future.
  2. for children who are acquiring language, you are giving them the gift of the right words.

For those who worry about toddler’s speech development, I would like to make it very clear that signing is always replaced by speech once a child feels confident with the spoken word.  From time to time a child may use the sign as well as the word, to reinforce an important point for emphasis or to make it very clear that they require a need to be met.

Try it today, for yourself.

‘Show me’….

Sign, Sign and Sign Again… (or, How Babies Gain Confidence with Signing)

These last two weeks have been a bit of a signing whirlwind in our home, with my 17 month acquiring signs almost as quickly as you can work out what it is that he wants the sign for.

He is an incredibly confident child – independent, curious and keeps me on his toes with his daredevil antics climbing way beyond Mumma’s comfort zone! – but this signing explosion is something that we see at our classes over and over again with older babies and toddlers.

Signing children, by their very nature, tend to be more confident.  Why?  In my personal opinion I think it comes down to the reassurance of a responsive parent who is able to understand AND meet needs without any difficulty.  This leaves little ones able to get on with the important things in life – climbing, gazing at butterflies, contemplating ants and eating daisies…..

I am a huge fan of Abraham Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, upon which principle our classes are uniquely centered around.  Created in 1943, the Hierarchy of Needs was based on Maslow’s theory that Man’s “most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire or focus motivation upon higher level needs.”

Basic needs are literally the requirements for human survival; food, drink, sleep, excretion. Without these needs being met, quite simply the body cannot continue to function.  If a child is unable to communicate these needs and be understood, they are unable to progress upon higher level needs, impacting on interests and learning – always concentrating on the unmet need, feeling “anxious and tense”.

By introducing simple first signs, children can be more confident of having their needs met even if they do not know how to ask verbally. A more confident child is a much happier child and consequently less frustrated and able to engage in learning; frustrated children are very often disruptive and unhappy.

Signing 'Biscuit'; Learning and implementing new signs enables small children to explain preferences
Signing ‘Biscuit’; Learning and implementing new signs enables small children to explain preferences

And so my boy is very confident of having his needs met – so much so that he can indeed focus his motivation on higher level needs and interests (back to climbing!) and also in gaining more non-verbal language to explain these interests so that I too can understand what motivates him.

At the same time, his speech development is being supported by learning and understanding new words; whilst he cannot yet say biscuit for instance, he can now tell me his preference and is practicing with new sounds.

I know without doubt that the word, and requests for new signs, will not be far behind.