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Why Rhyming and Signing with your children is so important

Published on 14th January 2018 by Tessa Robinson

Its 7pm, you have just bathed your little one and got them in to their pjs. You have read them a bedtime story and they are lying happily in their cot as you sing “hush little baby” as they drift off to the land of nod….haha, ok now lets get back to reality! I know as much as I would love this to happen – It never quite does!Its a bit more like this…

Its 7pm, bath time went out the window – my little girl is finally in her pjs that don’t match because she spilled milk all over her top. She definitely does not want to go to sleep as she whines and tries to escape to play. 

But as I sing “twinkle twinkle” for about the 12th time that night, racking my brain for other nursery rhymes I am helping my little one for her future! It turns out singing traditional lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies and infants before, and as they learn to speak can help language develop and is also important for babies emotional well being and promotes bonding.  Lullabies, songs and rhymes carry the ‘signature’ melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child’s ear, voice and brain for language.

Here are some more benefits of singing nursery rhymes to your child:

They lay the foundation for learning to read and spell.  

Good readers have good language and speech skills. Generally, children who will become good readers enjoy listening to  nursery rhymes. 

Helps children develop their non-verbal communications skills

Helps children learn early maths skills

Enables children to copy actions (especially if used with makaton signs)

Helps develop children’s social, skills (especially when sung in a group environment)

Children learn about different beats and rhythms

Promotes a close relationship between adult and child

Great, so now lets talk about the “signing”

According to the Makaton charity, latest statistics show that over 100,000 children and adults, use Makaton symbols and signs.

Makaton is designed to be used by hearing people. Many signs are derived from Brittish Sign Language), however Makaton isn’t classed as a language itself where as BSL is. BSL is the language of the deaf community in the UK. It has its own grammar, word order and also has regional variations.

How to start signing

If you want to start using Makaton with your child, find something that will motivate…food can often be a great starting point for teaching children some signs. Take a look at my website for more details on this.

I had first been exposed to makaton when working at Autism West Midlands. Makaton helps many children with autism who might struggle with communication.

When my little girl was just a few weeks old I began to understand her language. Obviously, at just 2 weeks old she couldn’t talk to me, but she could communicate. I realised that the sound of her cries meant different things. Now, don’t get me wrong many times she just cried and I had no idea why. However, it fascinated me that at such a young age my baby could in some way communicate with me. When my baby was just 6 weeks old, she smiled for the very first time whilst her daddy was singing to her. A moment we will never forget. This was yet another way she could now communicate. As she grew so did her ability to communicate. I really wanted to try and understand her needs.

By the age of 6 months my little girl could sign “milk” and by 8 months she could sign “more”. She is now 18 months and she can sign and say so many words, it is amazing how much we can understand her needs and how many tantrums this can reduce. Seeing this first hand, it made me really want to help other parents experience what I had.

Whilst on maternity leave I wanted to do something useful with my time off whilst incorperating my little girl. So I decided to set up a singing and signing class for preschoolers using Makaton signs. At the classes we sing nursery rhymes, tell stories and play with musical instruments. Its amazing whilst having fun how many signs the children and adults pick up. Why not come along and give Rhyme & Sign a try! I run classes in Kings Heath, Birmingham.

For more information about my classes visit

www.rhymeandsignbirmingham.co.uk

Suzanna Mazzone

Category: Activity Ideas
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