How to Encourage Memorization During Early Childhood

Babies are Sponges!

Many researchers are highlighting the impact of a search-based culture on our ability to retain information in our brain. We no longer know phone numbers but instead, we rely on our trusty smart phones; basic recipes are now stored in the cloud and no longer in our heart and mind.  Our little ones will grow surrounded by these technologies and as parents we are likely to minimize the importance of unsupported recollection. During infancy, toddlerhood and preschool years we have an outstanding window of opportunity to teach our little ones how to learn. The fact is, they cannot yet Google therefore they are dependent on more traditional tools of recollection such as association and raw memorization.


Music & Song

From birth we are musical and have a tendency to respond to rhythm and patterns. Take advantage of this by using valuable lyrics in the songs your child learns. From geography to science and civics songs have a way of staying with us for a lifetime.

Competitive Learning

Reward your child with praise and make learning a game. If you have a larger family allow for some healthy competition and play games of association.  As your toddler begins learning letters they will be able to recognize letters in street signs or in the supermarket.

Flash Cards

When we came up with our baby sign language flash cards we did it with the knowledge that we learn by visual association. Create sets of flash cards using things meaningful and relevant to your child and help them connect the dots. For example, you could use a set of cards showing maps of different countries and help your child learn the capital for each.


To date I am able to tie a number of nautical knots.  This is a skill I learned before my fourth birthday. Allowing a child to experience tactile three-dimensional feedback often results in effective recollection of the task learned.

Before your little one learns how to Google take time to encourage retention, learning and discovery. A good foundation in these three areas will make a significant difference in how you child processes information as an adult and it will help in transitioning from raw memorization into analytical and creative thinking.



Can Sign Language for Babies Delay Speech?

We got mail!

The short answer is no. But on a daily basis we receive questions from moms and dads concerned about the long-term impact of signing for babies when it comes to actually speaking. Research points to the contrary. Gestural communication is not only useful in the learning of spoken language but it is key as a young person begins to learn the nuances of non-verbal communication. Effective non-verbal communication is essential in the way we engage with others and used effectively it is a tool that distinguishes effective leaders from others.  As our babies grow they will naturally transition from signs into words but will continue to use their hands and facial expressions to highlight and emphasize their message.


A few days ago I received this letter from a mom which I found quite encouraging and I wanted to share with you mainly to help you feel confident as you move forward in encouraging pre-verbal communication.


Dear BabySignLanguage,

My baby Sammy is now 22 months. I am a typical mom and as far as we knew Sammy was a typical baby. Wanting to give him a head start my DH, grandma and I started signing to Sammy when he was four months old. By his 9th month Sammy knew about 8 signs. His repertoire included mommy, daddy, milk, more etc. DH and I were thrilled and bragged to no end.

Both DH and I were early speakers. Saying our first words before turning one. When Sammy turned 14 months we began to worry. All we had was silence. No cooing no loud babbling and most certainly no mama or papa.  While we worried about this we were mystified by his ever-increasing BSL vocabulary. He kept delighting us in context and out of context.

By his 16th month we began to worry. My dad suggested we had provided a language crutch by teaching him baby signing and I would take lots of discipline if not a miracle to make him speak. He could certainly hear us and there was no doubt little Sammy had a healthy tongue and by now he had several teeth.

Fearing a life of silence I began to fuzz and stopped signing. I even went to your Facebook page and shared my burden with your community. By our request our pediatrician referred us to a speech therapist specializing in babies.

After running a battery of tests the therapist determined our baby had Apraxia. She was delighted to know and see that Sammy had a rather rich sign language vocabulary and commended us in our proactive approach to helping him communicate.

The therapist tells us that Sammy will speak. It will be in his own timing but he will get there. Until that day mom, dad and grandma can confidently meet his needs and wants as he becomes more and more fluent with baby signing.

I am writing hoping that you would share this letter with your readers and encourage them to seek medical counsel if they see speech delays beyond the norm. I also want to tell everyone to continue signing to the little ones in their lives. It is the best parenting decision we ever made and we did not even know it!


Much love from a signing mama,



Motherhood & Fitness-A Balancing Act You Can Achieve

When I was in my teens and even my 20s staying fit was pretty easy for me. I could put the minimum amount of work in and look fit.  After having 2 children in my early 30’s I realized that staying fit with little work was no longer going to be easy and would take a lot more time and effort. As a mom I’m sure alot of you agree it’s easy to put things aside that take a lot of time when your children keep you busy.

After having my first child I was the heaviest I had ever been so I made the decision that if I wanted to be a good mom I would have to start taking care of myself. If I had stayed on the present course I was going to get terribly out of shape and would never be able to keep up with my super active child. So I started weighing my options. What could I do that would combine fitness with my child? The simple solution was running. I found a couch to 5k running plan and bought a used jogging stroller off of craig’s list for $25. The stroller is from the ice age and is not very pretty to look at but you know what? I still have it and love it.  You don’t have to spend alot of money to get in shape. If you choose running all you need is a good pair of running shoes and a stroller if you are planning on running with your child.

Once the temperature got to warm to run mid morning with my son I started getting up around 6 am to run before my husband left for work.  I have to say that I absolutely love running in the early morning. There’s something magical about running before most people are awake and you can just be outside with nature. On a slightly funny note we lived in Texas at this time and most of the birds around were vultures. I must say as I was huffing and puffing along it was unnerving to have vultures hopping behind me.

During my early morning runs I was able to remember who I was and regain my own identity. It’s so easy to become so and so’s wife or so and so’s mother and forget that you are an individual worth knowing on your own.  Taking time for yourself will only make you a better mom, wife and person.

When I started my training plan I looked on and picked a 5k race that was about 10 weeks out. I paid the entry fee and used it as motivation to keep up with working out.  I find that if you post your training plan up where you will see it everyday it will do 2 things – 1. you’ll know exactly what you are suppose to do that day and secondly, it will keep you motivated. I think doing 5ks are alot of fun and quickly got my husband running them. We would take turns pushing our son in the jogging stroller.

Once I got pregnant with our daughter I kept up running through my 2nd trimester. I even did an off-road 5k race and pushed my son in his stroller. That was one of the most fun races I have ever done. It had rained the night before so the trail was pretty muddy and we got filthy. If you have the option to do a mud run or off-road race DO IT! They are so much fun and what kid doesn’t like to get dirty.

Another way we meshed out kids with our active life is that we got a backpackthat we wear when we go hiking.  That way we can go anywhere and the kiddos can enjoy being out in nature with us.  My backpack is an ergo carrier and I absolutely love it.  We have hiked in TX, OK, and all over NC with our kids in the carriers.

A final way to combine kids and fitness is through bike riding.  Both my husband and I have mountain bikes so we bought a bike trailer and can take the kids everywhere we go. This summer we went down to GA for our family vacation. We went to Jekyll Island; which is incredibly family friendly. We were able to park the car and rode our bikes everywhere we went with the kids in the bike trailer.  The kids absolutely love it and we hear them squealing behind us.

This week we got a Trail-a-bike which is a tandem half bike that attaches to theback of an adult bike. Your child sits on it and can pedal and feel like they are riding but if they get tired they can just stop peddling. It’s perfect for our 4 year old because we like to ride 10-15 miles when we go out and there is no way he could keep up with us on his little bike.  I have to say it’s the cutest darn thing. My husband ended up giving all the kids in the neighborhood rides last night.

I really believe exercise is important for kids. I want me daughter to see that she has an active mom willing to try just about any sport so that she someday will be fearless also.  Our kids are so bombarded these days with technology and never seem to be able to unplug. I feel that being active outside will be able to give them the break they will need from cell phones, computers and who know’s what by the time they get older.  So even if all you do is walk around your neighborhood at night with your family you will never regret it. It’s a great way to spend time with your family and start you on the road to fitness.

Go visit Kristina at  Kristina is mom to Nola and Levi and she blogs about fitness for busy moms household economy and the joys of motherhood. We are pleased as punch to have her as our guest blogger.

Hooray for Signing & Playing-Simple Steps for the Novice Play Group Lead

Credit KyptidyaMore & more sign language for babies is becoming a chore element of most early child development curriculums. The experts agree; the emotional & cognitive benefits resulting from having a tool for early communication will make a life-changing difference in the lives of babies and parents.


Urban epicenters and densely populated suburban areas often have within hand’s reach wonderful resources for interactive learning, library gatherings, playgroups and day camps abound. This is however, not the case for the majority of us.  There is no denial that learning will only happen in a social context. We learn from observing and interacting. For most babies this means mama, daddy and siblings.  There are many studies that highlight the importance of peer-to-peer learning during early childhood. What is a mama to do when the community infrastructure does not lend itself to early childhood socialization? The answer is simple. Be the change!


Starting a playgroup is not rocket science. Starting a themed playgroup is even easier. Signing for babies is a great activity to use as a focus for your gatherings. If you are ready to get going follow these simple steps:


Practice Hospitality

Be willing to open the doors of your house to welcome other mommies and their little ones. Make it fun by providing simple and delicious food and beverage. While the little ones learn having other adults around offers the added benefit of mutual encouragement and well deserved adult interaction. One really fun idea is to have a snack tray with baby-friendly fruits along with printed cards showing the sign corresponding to the fruit.


Gather Interest

Post a fun invitation on church bulletin boards, community boards and web forums.


Share the Load

If you are stage shy have every mom contribute by memorizing and leading the learning of one sign.  Task her with providing 2 and 3-D collateral. For example if the word is “apple” The mom in charge can print the baby sign language flash card corresponding to apple as well as bring a real fruit.


Chart and Celebrate Progress

Create a chart either on paper or online tracking the achievements of each child celebrate progress by having small parties when all the kiddos reach a certain common goal.


Take Field Trips

The petting zoo, grocery store and nature trails are great places for experiential learning. Delight in showing little ones words such as bear that would otherwise be available exclusively as a concept and not the real deal.





Just getting together and enjoying the company of others is already a win.  If in the process learning happens that is a plus worthy of celebration and delight.


Consider Attention Span

Don’t forget that babies get bored. Make sure the activities are short and fun and parents already know the signs prior to meeting.


If you are interested in posting an invitation to a newly formed baby sign language playgroup please feel free to post it on our Facebook page


Signing For Babies-It Takes a Village!

credit ixmoir The mantra of teaching signing for babies is teach contextually and consistently. This is all good until we are faced with the practical details of signing. Baby sign language can often require two hands. The majority of us only have two of those and quite often one is busy holding, feeding and nurturing our little ones. How do we overcome this obstacle? How are we to sign contextually while we try to feed, or bathe our child?

After interviewing several baby sign language mamas I was able to determine that this seemingly overwhelming challenge has a very simple solution. A solution many of us are already using when it comes to teaching our little ones the basics.

Encourage the Montessori Method

If you are lucky enough to have older children the engagement of mixed-age groups is probably one of the most effective ways of teaching contextually. Recruit the help of a sibling and allow them to directly participate by signing to the baby during feedings, bathing time and play time.

Recruit the Help of Friends & Family

If you don’t have other children around as grandmas, grandaddies, daddies and friends to lend you a hand. Literally!  They can help you with the task of lead the signing session.


Join or Coordinate a Baby Signing Play Group

Group activities will allow you to incorporate multimedia, signing songs, games and other amazing activities that will encourage social skills as well as communication skills. Your baby will be signing in no time and having loads of fun while learning.

Having extra hands will certainly help a great deal but if you don’t have that luxury do not be discouraged. I know numerous signing babies who have learned from the comfort of their high chair, jumperoo, swing and kindermat.