Before my daughter Sophia could talk I had heard babies can communicate using sign language. I went to a few classes on it and watched a public television show that taught several of the basic words babies use, like “more”, “milk”, “eat”, “help”, “all done”. The television show was called “Signing Time” and was started by a mom named Rachel Coleman. Rachel grew up from a musical family. Her grandmother was Alyce King, of the 60’s musical show The King Family Show. Her father was the musical director of the Sonny and Cher show, and Rachel too is a singer/songwriter. When Rachel’s daughter Leah was one year old, she noticed she didn’t jump when a CD was played very loudly. Then Rachel realized it was because Leah was deaf.
Suddenly Rachel felt music didn’t have a place in her life. Now her focus was Leah.
She and her husband Aaron learned sign language and taught it to their daughter. However, Leah was left out on the playground and at birthday parties because people couldn’t communicate with her. In order for Leah to feel included, Rachel decided to start teaching sign language at local preschools. Rachel’s sister Emilie was a theater graduate and thought if they were to make even a hundred DVDs of a fun show with sign language, Leah’s life would be changed for the better.
Rachel used her background in music to create a theme song, and together they all began working on producing the videos in 2001, incorporating the company Two Little Hands Productions. The video was released in 2002, and through their website orders came through. They were highlighted on the Today show a year later and were encouraged to create another DVD. Additionally they have a show on PBS called Signing Time! Not only have they made a lot of money (last year, company revenue was over $3 million), but they have also helped change the thinking of a generation of kids who are now growing up thinking that sign language is normal. In fact, studies have shown kids who learn sign language:
- Read earlier
- Are better adjusted
- Have higher IQs
Supposedly the terrible twos are easier if your child knows sign language, because they can communicate better. If this is true, I can't even imagine what my child would have been like without learning some basic words. I think I would have had to call in Nanny 911.