Communication is so important, especially when we are communicating with our kids. When our kids are little it seems like most of the time we get things right because of intuition. But what if your child could communicate with you clearly as young as 9 months old? I know it would make my life a whole lot easier.
In today’s episode, we are talking all about using sign language to communicate with our children. This is something that I have grown a passion for only because, one, there are several patients of mine who are actually deaf or hard of hearing and use sign language. And, two, my son has a love for sign language because that is his preferred way of communicating.
In this episode, my guest Lauren shares:
- How she got started learning signing language
- How early we can start teaching our babies to sign language
- What signs we should start teaching your babies when they are first learning sign language
- Why we should use sign language to teach toddlers about their feelings
- Resources to get you started learning sign language
Lauren Barrett was born in New Jersey, grew up in West Virginia, went to college in Pennsylvania, and now lives and works in North Carolina. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2011 with a degree in Deaf Education. She has her Master’s in Reading Education. She is currently a high school teacher of the deaf and hard-of-hearing by day, a cross country coach by the afternoon, a writer by her son’s nap times, and a full-time mom to an amazing toddler. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, James, and son, Henry.
Connect with Lauren
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenBarrettWrites
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenBarrettWrites
- 15 Signs for feelings: https://laurenbarrett.ck.page/a3eb637c5e
- ASL Nook: https://aslnook.com/
- @signngrow https://www.instagram.com/signngrow/
- Henry’s Hiccups: https://www.laurenbarrettwrites.com/henrys-hiccups.html
- Sign Me Up: https://www.shopsignmeup.com
- The ASL app: https://theaslapp.com/
- Magic Mind – use the promo code MOM20 for 20% off!
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Transcript of this episode
Real Happy Mom 0:04
You are listening to the happy mom podcast, the weekly podcast with busy working moms to get inspiration for this show. My name is Tony episode 169. Well, hey there and welcome back to another episode of The Real happy mom podcast. Super excited to be back again in the podcast chair to come. And just to chat with my guests. Today, Lauren, we are talking all about using sign language to communicate with our children. Now this is something that I have increasingly joined and gotten a passion for only because, one, there are several patients of mine who are actually deaf or hard of hearing, use sign language, and then to my son, which we’ll learn he has a love for sign language because that is his preferred way of communicating. So I’m super excited to have this conversation with Lauren to talk with her today to learn more about how we can use sign language to communicate with our kids. Now before we jump into this week’s episode, I wanted to share with you a little bit more about the term transformational toolkit. This is my all in one course package, just self guided, just way to figure out how to make the limited amount of time work for our situation for our lives for our seasons that we are in all this month, we are dealing with different things, whether it is with the kids with work with school, with trying to manage the home. And we can feel like there is never enough time to get all those things done, let alone time for ourselves. So the time transformational toolkit is going to help with you to actually get a hold of just making time for things that actually matter for you in your life. And to get rid of those things that are sucking up the time. That is so precious to you and your family. So head on over to Robbie mom calm slash time to learn more about the time transformational toolkit and to get your hands on it. Because I promise you is definitely going to change the way that you view your time. And the way that you handle your time and also make you more productive and make you a better manager of what you have. So like I said, head on over to Real happy mom comm slash time to get your hands on that. All right, now that we have that out of the way, let us go ahead and jump on into this week’s episode with Lauren. All right, Lauren, welcome to the podcast. I’m excited to have you. Yeah, welcome. I’m
excited to be here. Yes,
Real Happy Mom 2:50
yes, I’m super pumped to talk to you today. Because I didn’t tell you this before we started. But my son has this really fun desire to learn how to do sign language. And it started because he didn’t want his daddy to hear what we were talking about. And so he started learning sign language by watching YouTube videos. So when I saw what you do, and I saw that you talk about sign language, I was like, oh my goodness, I got to talk to this lady because it’s gonna be great. Implement a little bit more with my son. So super, super excited about this topic today. But before we jump in, I want to do to share a little bit about you and what you do.
Yeah, I’m, I’m Lauren Barrett, I describe myself as a multi passionate mom. Because I have so many different interests. I am a mom to a two and a half year old while he’s almost three. I am a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing. And I’ve been teaching for 11 years. I’m also a cross country coach. And recently I have started writing and blogging and I’ve published two books. And recently I just published a children’s book. So yeah, I’m the type of woman that wears many
Real Happy Mom 4:09
hats. Yes, I love it. And I love this cross country because another fun fact, I really want to run a Bi k without dying at the end.
I can definitely help you there too. Yes, yes.
Real Happy Mom 4:23
Love it. Now, you did mention that you are a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing. So I’m just wondering what got you started in that or like what made you want to even work with with children that are deaf and hard of hearing?
Yeah. So when I was in sixth grade, I’m from a very small town and I went to a very small school and we had a family that moved in and the mom of the two boys that went to my school she was deaf. And my mom wanted to learn sign language so she could speak to this lady and so my mom signed up for sign language has classes, and she’s kind of like, Hey, you want to come along? They say, okay, yeah, I’ll tag along. So we went, as you know, children absorb language so much easier than adults. So my mom was like really struggling with learning the sign language. And I was picking it up so fast. And then I started to form a friendship with this woman. And we began talking, every time I would see her at church, or when she was picking up her children. And I just developed such a love for the language that continued to take classes. And then I learned, actually deaf education as a major, which I didn’t even know. And I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. So I was like, Oh, I can combine the two and teach deaf kids. So yeah, I’ve been doing it for 11 years now. And I just absolutely love my job. And I love the students that I’ve had. And I just love being able to give them language to communicate, because I don’t know if you know this, but 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents. And of those parents 88% never learned how to sign. So these children when they go home, they don’t have anyone to communicate, and school is the only place where they can communicate. So that’s just a special part of my job is being able to communicate with these students.
Real Happy Mom 6:27
Yeah. Wow, I did not know about that statistic. And it’s funny that you said that because I have a few patients that are deaf, and I know a few little things just from you know, like I said, learning with my son. I learned a few of you phrases here and there. So I can do a little bit. And then like, once the conversation gets going, I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Like, let me get my paper and write this down. Because I know, I only know just like these three things. Yeah. I think that’s really cool. And I love the story that you shared. But I’m really curious, like how you kind of transition, you know, working with deaf students to actually teaching sign language to your little one. Mm hmm.
Yeah. So, um, when I was pregnant with my son, I knew that I wanted to teach him sign language. That was something that I’ve always wanted to do. And, you know, as soon as he was born, we’re in the hospital on Signing Day. I mean, he’s not even opening his eyes. And I’m already signing to him. But yeah, I started right away. For I recommend for most parents that you do not have to start away, there’s right away, it’s, there’s never a wrong time to start teaching your kids sign language, the sooner the better. But, you know, the benefits of sign language are vast, and they grow with your child. So I recommend starting whenever you are ready to start, but for me, I started signing with my son, right from birth. And he did not actually start signing back until probably six months. But that is typical. So some parents might get frustrated, like, Oh, my kids not signing back, my kids not signing back. And I just said, give it time, be consistent, they will start signing back. And most start sending back around that six months range.
Real Happy Mom 8:24
Nice, nice. So around six months, you’re already having him talk back to you which at six months, they usually aren’t really saying anything that really, really awesome. Now I’m wondering what was them in the Bose signs that you were using when you’re teaching?
So I definitely recommend those functional words. Like more, please, NELC I’m all done fleep That those functional words that can actually communicate some thought something. So sometimes it’s fine, like, oh, I want to teach my kids, animals in colors. But I definitely recommend starting with those functional words. So your baby will actually be able to communicate back because they don’t have they don’t have the language. They don’t have the speech to communicate with that. And just a funny story. Probably around when my son was like six months old, he started to cry. And I was looking around I was like, oh, what does he want? What does he want? I know he’s not hungry. I know he’s not tired. I know he doesn’t need me to change his diaper. And this all went on in my head for probably five seconds before he signed water and water is like this, the letter W to your mouth and he signed water and that all happened in 10 seconds and I was able to like Oh, he wants water. gave him his water bottle. Calm right down. I just thought like, oh, wow, if I didn’t hadn’t been using sign language, I would have been like racking my brain running around the house trying to figure out what was making him so upset. So that’s just an example of sign language for the win.
Real Happy Mom 10:14
Yeah, yeah, no, when you’re telling that story, I was just thinking about how many times I struggled, especially with my oldest. So really quick, my oldest son, he had some delayed speech. So there were some, some times that he would talk to me and I could understand most of what he said, and I was, you know, that first time mom that would talk for my child, because I knew, or like, people wouldn’t be able to understand him. But there were some times when I had no idea what he was saying, one day, going to the pantry, and he kept saying something, it just didn’t even sound like a real word. I’m like, son, what are you saying, finally, my husband came home and he was like, Oh, he talks over chocolate. And I’m like, bro, like, he made me use like a C word. So I could see how like sign language would have really been beneficial to communicate, especially with that speech delay that we had. But I’m just wondering if you notice any other benefits of teaching your son sign language, especially now that he’s almost three?
Yeah, so I have five key benefits of sign language. For really have kids of all ages like this works with toddlers, kids that are learning English, like English is their second language, nonverbal kids. Sign language improves behavior. Because when kids don’t have the ability to communicate, or verbally communicate what they want, it’s natural for them to get upset, they get frustrated, and that can lead to behavior problems. But what sign language when they’re having the ability to communicate with sign language, they’re able to communicate and that’s what we ultimately want is for kids to be able to communicate their wants and needs. So I just noticed, when my son can communicate, in sign language, or even my students can communicate in sign language, their behavior is so much better when they are able to communicate with sign language. Yeah. Another thing is that research has shown that sign language can improve spelling and vocabulary. In fact, signing two year olds have 50 more words in their vocabulary than non signing children of the same age. And that’s because sign language is another way to make a connection in your brain. So for example, when I teach my son a word, I will say it, I will show him picture. And I will sign it. And that is three different ways that the brain is making connection. So that is improving vocabulary. And another thing about sign languages is that they use unique handshapes for each letter, which we call fingerspelling. And so that helps with spelling. So even with my students that know don’t know sign language, whenever we’re practicing spelling words, I finger spell it, and they finger spell it back to me. Because again, the brain is making connection, that you’re making a connection, like when you write it, and through your hands. So that’s just different ways like kinesthetic, visual, and auditorially. So it covers all those bases with sign language. Um, a fourth way sign language helps is improves your motor skills. So when young kids are practicing signing with their hands, they’re actually improving those fine motor skills. And with repetitive practice, the muscles in the hand can strengthen as well as hand eye coordination. And the last thing is it builds communication skills. So 70 to 93% of communication is nonverbal, like facial expressions, you know, body gestures, all of that. And facial expressions are play a key part in sign language. In fact, like facial expressions are part of the grammar of sign language. Your record required to use facial expressions when you sign and kids who have learned sign language are a better better readers of body language and facial expressions and have better communication skills that way. So yeah.
Real Happy Mom 14:50
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Yeah, so I’m kind of once your children grow up, and they start dropping the sign, and that’s natural, they drop the sign to favor the speech, especially for those like noun words, like, you know, water, diaper, all of that, they start to get the speech word, and that’s perfectly fine. But then we get into the, like those big feelings you talked about. And those big feelings are so abstract, they don’t really have a clearer picture of what those are. And so that’s where sign language can come into place. So for example, my son has in a rational fear of tractors, um, he anytime he sees or hears a tractor, I got the pumpkin patch, when we would go there. He would, he’s just gets so scared. But I taught him the sign for scared. So now when he sees the attractor, he’s able to know what that is. So when he sees a tractor, instead of screaming and crying, Mad Men melting down, he looks at me, he does the same facial expression I do when I sign sad, are scared. And he’ll look at me and go scared. And that makes him feel better that he has a way to communicate what he is feeling. Um, so I just think that is, like a great example of how sign language helps children and toddlers, you know, work through their feelings. So when we are reading books are we’re talking about feelings I always including the sign for all those feeling words happy, sad, angry, frustrated, and I’m really playing up those facial expressions like, Oh, here’s sad, sad, and I’m signing sad, sad over again, and making the face and that’s connecting, that’s connecting and working with his brain like, Oh, he’s sad. I’m sad. And it’s able to work through that. And in fact, research has shown that when kids see that sign language and that visual representation, it actually makes them calmer. So that’s when he’s having a tantrum or something. Or he’s melting down in the store and I start signing. It’s like the light bulb goes off in his head and almost like, like he immediately calms down, because he’s looking at me with a sign and he’s watching my facial expressions. And he’s like, oh, okay, yeah, this is when I’m feeling his eyes. Yeah,
Real Happy Mom 19:56
yeah, no, I I can relate to all that. for being able to sign back to my kids, I know that having that that, you know, extra added layer of communication will definitely make it easier for them to communicate. Because I think a lot of times like even like for because I have a five year old now he will get frustrated with things or he’s upset with something and immediately he just like has a meltdown. And I’m like, okay, like, you know, how are you feeling? Are you upset? Are you sad? You know, are you you know, frustrated? Like, what are you feeling that instead of just crying and just being like, oh, like, let’s, let’s put some words to this feeling that you’re having here. So I love the way that you can also attach the sign for it to because that is it, you know even more like, like, yes, we can communicate and we can get past this. But I’m just wondering even like for like older kids to like mom’s like bigger kids. I’m sure that this could help to as well. And even with communicating with other people would you say?
Oh, yeah, definitely siling which grows it can grow with your, your kids. Like I said, like, it helps older kids with work through their emotions, it helps with vocabulary, it helps with Okay, behavior and it. Like you said at the beginning, it’s even it’s fun to do you can have a conversation about discreetly, yes.
Real Happy Mom 21:26
My favorite part? No, no, I’m just wondering for the moms who are like, okay, like, I see all the benefits. I’m really wanting to get started, where would you say mom should start or best resources for them to get them going with their kids?
Yeah, I have a couple of my favorite ones. Um, but also, like, whenever moms are looking for something, and there’s tons of things out there, you just really kind of want to make sure it’s either being taught or written by a deaf person or somebody that has strong ties to the deaf community. As I’ve seen a lot of books and resources out there and it’s, it’s kind of made up and it’s not honoring the actual language. So first word of caution, make sure the resources is by somebody who is deaf or has strong ties to the deaf community like a teacher of the deaf or an interpreter. But some of my favorites are Sign me up. It was created by Elyse Tate. She is the wife of football player Golden Tate. And she had a deaf expert collaborate with her on this book. It has a book of like the most functional, basic signs that you should begin teaching with your babies and has posters, where you can hang up in the nursery, or in your living room or playroom that actually remind you, okay, I need to sign. I think that’s the biggest thing is remembering to do it. And then I just love how her posters can remind you that oh, I need to sign. Another one is ASL knuck. And it’s run by a Deaf mom and her deaf daughter and her other hearing daughter. It’s a YouTube channel and I they have a website to the ASL app is run by deaf people. And it has over 2000 signs and phrases. And if you want to go on Instagram there, one of my favorite accounts on Instagram is sign and grow. And it’s run by Mary a baby sign expert. And I also have a free research resource for 15 signs for feelings that I teach you and activities that you can use those sign languages, sign language with them, and I could send a link to you.
Real Happy Mom 24:00
Yes, yes, definitely. I was just sitting over here taking notes like a madwoman. I have all of those links. If you are listening, I will have all those links in the show notes and definitely will have the link to the 15 signs for feelings as well. So yes, thank you. Thank you. This is really, really good.
Yeah, and I also just wrote a children’s book that is illustrated by two of my deaf students. It features a deaf character and it has a sign language dictionary in the back. So it’s a fun little way to introduce your kids to sign language and it is supporting deaf creators because you know, two of my students helped illustrate it.
Real Happy Mom 24:40
Perfect, I love it and what’s the name of this book?
Henry Henry’s hiccups after my son
Real Happy Mom 24:47
HCAs perfect coming in. I will make sure to include a link to that one too as well in the show notes. So yes, I’m loving all this lore and this has been really really good learned a lot from you and definitely ready to give back into signing. Before we sign off, I wanted you to either give us a motivational quote, or some words of encouragement for us. We’re happy moms. Yeah, definitely.
Um, so I think that the biggest thing is, for moms is that we see all this information out there. And it could be overwhelming, because there’s so much we want to do. But I definitely say give yourself some grace and start small. And if this is with sign language, you know, just do one sign a day, you don’t have to do it all at once, because that can be so overwhelming of all the information out there. So just pick one sign you want to do each each day and then grow from there.
Real Happy Mom 25:43
Perfect, perfect. And I love that. Now, Lauren, if there are anyone listening out there that wants to get in touch with you learn more about you. Where can we find you online?
Yeah, I’m at Lauren Barrett writes on Instagram. And that’s my website, Lauren Barrett writes calm.
Real Happy Mom 26:00
Perfect. I will definitely include those links in the show notes again, Lauren, thank you so much. This has been super, super helpful and I am ready to go get started right now. So thank you.
Thank you so much for having me.
Real Happy Mom 26:17
Now that does it for this episode of The Real happy mom podcast. To find the links in the show notes head on over to Real happy mom comm slash 169 To get your hands on all the links in the resources that were mentioned in this episode. And wherever you’re listening to this podcast, please do me a favor and rate and review this podcast if it is something that you are truly enjoying. Because one it lets me know that what we are doing here on the real happy mom podcast is helping you and two, it lets me know that I got the right guest on the podcast. And if you want more great guests like Lauren, let me know by leaving a rating and review. Alright, don’t forget to join me over in the real happy mom podcast community that is real happy mom comm slash community to join me over there so that you can get more fun and goodness in the community as well as some monthly trainings which I’m sure that you are going to love because it can make your life so much more easier. And just make you get a lot of things under control. And this month in particular, we have a very fun topic, which I know that is gonna really help elevate things in your life. Alright, and if you’re curious, what is she talking about? Join me right now that’s it for this episode. Take care and with lots alone