Babies Learn to Read with Signing Time

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17-month-old reading phenomenon featured on Today Show further proof that there is more to Signing Time than sign language

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Signing Time has meant so much to our family, especially baby Jane

Yesterday morning viewers of NBC’s Today Show watched in awe as 17-month-old Elizabeth Barrett read to them. Elizabeth’s parents attribute her early reading in part to Signing Time, the television and DVD series that teaches young children to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL).

According to the Today Show, "Katy Barrett and her husband, Michael, are speech pathologists, and when Elizabeth was born they started teaching her sign language along with spoken language. They read to her often, and her favorite television program — the only one her parents let her watch — was a PBS show called ‘Signing Time,’ which teaches kids sign language."

For the past six years, Signing Time has been dedicated to proving the benefits and positive impact of sign language on children who can hear. While most people have regarded sign language as something only for the Deaf community, thousands of parents like the Barretts are seeing that hearing children can accelerate their language and reading development through the unique blend of sign language, written word, song and video modeling used in Signing Time.

“I knew I wanted my children to learn sign to help with communication and language development, but never dreamed anything like this would happen,” said Katy Barrett referring to her child’s remarkable reading skills. “Signing Time is an excellent program on so many levels. Elizabeth enjoyed it at only a few months old--the splendidly creative songs made her coo, and even before she signed along, she loved watching other children signing and having fun.”

Parents are also using Signing Time to communicate with children with special needs. Kei Malone, a mother in Massachusetts explains, “When my son William, who has Down syndrome, spelled the word ‘red’ with the refrigerator magnets, signed each letter, and then signed ‘red,’ I was blown away. He was only 4 ½ years old at the time and the fact that he has Down syndrome and verbal apraxia too, just emphasized that signing with him since he was an infant was the right thing to do.”

Rachel Coleman, host and co-creator of Signing Time, remembers how important sign language was in helping her children learn to read at an early age. Upon discovering that her daughter Leah was deaf, specialists warned the Colemans that deaf children typically graduate from high school with a 3rd grade reading level. The Colemans proved differently. They found that using sign language in the home stimulated one-year-old Leah’s language skills. It was easy for Leah to transition from fingerspelling to writing and then reading. Now in 5th grade, Leah reads at a 9th grade reading level. In fact, last year she beat out 5th and 6th graders to win the school spelling bee.

“Babies who sign have access to language much earlier than those left waiting for speech to develop. The signing child can describe the world around them by expressing their needs and preferences. Their hands give them a clear and powerful 'voice' – quite a contrast to the whining and pointing traditionally associated with toddlerhood,” said Coleman. “The truth is that using sign language with babies and children who can hear is revolutionizing parenting in America.”

“Signing Time has meant so much to our family, especially baby Jane,” said Jana Francis a mother in Salt Lake City, Utah. “At 22-months she knows the entire alphabet by sight, every color by sight, can count to 22 and sign the whole time. That’s not because we teach her all day, it’s because of Signing Time!”

Featuring Rachel Coleman, her daughter Leah — who is deaf, along with Alex — Leah’s cousin, who can hear — and their animated pet frog Hopkins, Signing Time offers an unparalleled multi-sensory approach dedicated to proving the positive impact and benefits of signing with hearing infants. With Series One and Series Two containing 13 volumes each, Signing Time has become the largest library of entertaining signing videos of its kind available. Signing Time reaches children with diverse learning styles and encourages interaction through signing, singing, speaking and moving.

ABOUT TWO LITTLE HANDS PRODUCTIONS

Two Little Hands Productions produces and distributes Signing Time, a captivating and entertaining American Sign Language (ASL) DVD series and public television program. Signing Time was created to make signing fun and easy for children of all ages and abilities. Two Little Hands Productions also produced the popular Baby Signing Time DVDs and CDs that have played a prominent role in the recent “baby signing” trend.

Two Little Hands Productions is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more information, please visit http://www.signingtime.com.

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Lindsey Blau
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