While there are many ‘foreign’ languages a homeschool family can study, the one I recommend for those with young children is American Sign Language. Our journey to ASL began out of necessity with a child who was non-verbal. However, as our family has grown and our need disappeared we discovered that sign language was a wonderful tool in our parenting arsenal. ASL is uniquely hands-on, giving children an active way to use their body while communicating from very early ages.
There are quite a few options available in the sign language arena and the one our family uses consistently is Signing Time. Today I will give you an overview of the DVD products we love from Signing Time, as well as some neat features on their website. Video previews from each title are on their website.
Baby Signing Time Series – This is for the youngest learners and signing is led by Rachel Coleman, with animated and real babies all age 2 and younger. The songs that fill these DVDs make it easy to practice the signs you are learning. There are 4 DVDs in this series, and we own the first two. My babies and toddlers enjoy this, and one neat thing is the option to watch one song at a time, keeping viewing time short for the littlest learners. By the end of this set your family will learn over 100 signs.
Signing Time Series One – The original series of 13 DVDs is recommended for ages 1-8, though I can say even adults will learn and enjoy this series. Each DVD has a theme for the signs and is a mix of live people, songs, and animation. We own all of these and love them! This set alone directly teaches more than 250 signs. There is some overlap in the signs between each series, but the presentations are aimed at different ages. Our favorite in this series is hard to choose. My animal lovers would say #7 Leah’s Farm or #9 The Zoo Train, but another child would choose #3 Everyday Signs and #12 Time to Eat for the fun food songs and signs.
Signing Time Series Two – This series includes several new learning modules that put children’s ASL vocabulary to work teaching some new signs and practicing many signs from Series One at a more challenging level. We own 10 of the 13 DVDs in this series, and they are some of my favorites. This series offers titles such as:
- Happy Birthday to You
- Move and Groove
- Helping Out Around the House
- Who Has the Frog (my all time favorite – focusing on all important question words like who, what, where, why)
Believe it or not, there are some more Signing Time DVDs outside those three series, including Practice Time for numbers or ABC’s, Sing and Sign, and Story Time. We own several of these as well and enjoy them. Signing Time even offers music cds, flash cards, books, and a classroom edition of DVDs with lesson plans, so explore their store. Also be sure to sign up for their newsletter for a discount coupon, and keep an eye on those newsletters for more sales and special discounts. I’ll share a secret – we’ve acquired 95% of our Signing Time collection through those sales. Last year they even had a sale around Black Friday.
The Signing Time website offers free resources your family may enjoy:
One last thing I wanted to mention is just a few of the benefits we’ve seen in our family as we have used ASL. First, we have been able to communicate with our children, and have them communicate back, from a very early age. This has cut down dramatically on frustrated tantrums when a 1 year old is trying to tell you something but does not have the words. We have found sign language to be a wonderful silent option in the middle of church services for correcting, warning, or simply reminding our children of what they need to be doing. The last reason we love signing as a family is that it helps build our family identity. It is just ‘something we do’ that makes us family. The kids can use it as a secret language, strengthening their bonds as brothers and sisters. Sometimes it is just the little things that bring the most memories.
-Written by Tristan, mom to 5 going on 6 children, homeschooling through unit studies with a side of lapbooks. You can visit her at her blog, Our Busy Homeschool.