This is a sponsored post on behalf of Bright Signs Learning.
We have doing this parenting thing for a little over 5 years now. I like to think we’ve come a long way in the quality of our parenting in that time. You definitely learn a lot and loosen up between the first child and the third. When Maggie was born, we worried about a lot more things. Our worries eased up a little once Jacob came along and a little more when Zellene was born. I guess we slowly came to realize that children aren’t as fragile as we assumed and they bounce right back from things.
I also learned that children are much more intelligent than people give them credit for. Janessa had been a nanny in the early years of our marriage and she had been around children for most of her life. She would often tell me stories about what the little ones she watched had done that day. Often these stories would surprise me with the level of intelligence the children showed at such a young age. The surprising intelligence of young children didn’t truly hit home with me though until we started our own family.
It was in the early years of Maggie’s life when I realized just how much their little brains soak up! She learned so much, so quickly and would suddenly drop something shocking on you. I remember one morning, Maggie (around two years old at the time) had crept out of her bed, stealthily opened two sets of baby gates, and made her way downstairs to raid the pantry. Janessa eventually woke up and panicked when she noticed Maggie wasn’t in her bed. Sprinting downstairs, Janessa found Maggie happily sitting next to several half-eaten Oreos, the fillings eaten but the chocolate cookie portions neatly arranged in rows. Maggie just smiled at her. Janessa, now relieved that nothing terrible had happened to our sneaky offspring, just laughed at the sight in front of her. We marveled at the realization that Maggie knew she wanted the Oreos, noted where we put them when we put away the groceries the evening before, woke up before us, figured out how to open the baby gates without so much as a squeak (the baby gates are very loud and squeaky), opened the pantry, found the Oreos, and then sat down in the living room to enjoyed the spoils of her epic heist. When Janessa told me the story in the morning, I was in awe.
This example wasn’t the first way Maggie surprised me, it was just one of the funnier ones. She had already shocked me many times with just how much very young children can pick up on. The most amazing one to me was when we started teaching her sign language. Children can start learning and successfully communicating with sign language much earlier than with speech. I am sure many of you already know this, but I didn’t at the time. It was very cool to communicate with her at nine months old in a way that would have been impossible otherwise. I’m sure it saved a lot of communicational frustration on her part as well! I mean, imagine being unable to tell people how you are feeling, what you want, or what you need. I think that would eventually bring the best of us to tears! Maggie had a vocabulary of over 25 signs by the time she was a year old.
When Jacob came along, we didn’t teach him nearly as much sign language, mostly because of extreme time constraints at the time. We only taught him a few basic signs so he could tell us what he wanted, if he wanted more, etc. For whatever reason, we taught Zellene no sign language at all. We just didn’t think about it, I guess. There really isn’t a good, legitimate reason why. Even beyond the younger years, sign language is a great tool to have in your knowledge toolbox. It is one of those abilities that is great to have because, frankly, you never know when you could need it. As the adage goes: “I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it”.
This year we started doing our homeschool program with Maggie and Jake. It has been going very well so far and we are so proud of both of them for how well they’ve done. A few weeks ago Maggie noticed a magnet we keep on our refrigerator that demonstrates how to sign some of the most common signs. She immediately started asking if we’d teach her the signs, having forgotten the ones she learned as an infant. We agreed that it would be great to add some sign language into their early education. That’s when we fell into the Bright Signs Learning program.
What is great about Bright Signs Learning is that is incorporates a multisensory style of learning. What this means is that children will learn sign language, phonics, and sight reading components all at the same time. For example, if a picture of a cat is shown, this is accompanied by the sign language gesture and the written word for children to identify. The word is also “sounded out” so children can identify the sound that accompanies each letter. This mixture is often a recipe for some very early reading and comprehension abilities on top of better communication between parent and child in the early years.
The whole program arrived in a convenient kit including four DVDs along with 80 image flash cards, 20 number flash cards, 26 alphabet flash cards, and an instructional activity guide. As with most modern children, Maggie and Jacob wanted to try the DVDs first. If you’re a parent, you know how it goes! We popped in the first one after they completed their homeschool assignments for the day. It definitely kept them engrossed and entertained. They actually started signing along with the movie without any provocation from either Janessa or me. I was pleasantly surprised by this. For the most part, I’ve never seen them participate along with an educational movie quite like that before. With past educational movies, they’ve occasionally shouted answers at questions from the on-screen characters but nothing like their level of participation with Bright Signs Learning. The DVDs shift from live action with puppets to occasional animation. This seems to be the standard method for many children’s educational programs. The variety helps to keep their attention between lessons. The first DVD ended and they begged to watch the next one.
The next day, we worked through the flash cards. I really like the quality of these thick, sturdy cards. Whatever they are coated with really makes them feel durable. The alphabet cards feature capitalized and lower case letters on opposite sides. We worked through them pretty quickly as Maggie is pretty proficient with most letters and their sounds. Jacob, being younger than Maggie, kind of just follows whatever Maggie says, which is okay because, technically, he is still seeing and hearing the correct letters and their sounds. It should help him learn it all pretty quickly.
The image flash cards worked really well with both children even though they are at different educational levels. Maggie and Jacob are seeing an image that corresponds to a written word which will help them as they begin learning phonics and sight words. Children typically learn very well through repetition, as parents well know! How many times have we all been asked to repeat the same silly game over and over and over again by our children? A lot, right? Well, children’s brains are wired to learn this way. It is through this repetition they truly learn how things correspond and the image cards are perfect for this reason.
The next set of cards teaches basic numbers and number comprehension. Maggie has pretty good math skills for her age and Jacob is learning his counting very well. The cards make it easy to challenge them and mix up the number sequence so they don’t get used to the numerical order. They’ve been at it for a week and they have really shown some great progress. I am really proud of them!
While the program is a bit on the expensive side, after using it, I would still recommend the purchase. The material successfully connected with Maggie and Jacob on a level that other educational programs just couldn’t. I can’t quite put my finger on what Bright Signs Learning does differently, but it just works. We are all very excited to see what kind of progress they make as we continue with the program! If you are looking for a way to starting teaching your children the basics of phonics, reading, and sign language, Bright Signs Learning definitely deserves your attention in our opinion. While the initial investment might seem a little steep, it will be well worth it for the increased ease of communication with your tiny tots, the jump your children will have on Kindergarten, and the fantastic skill of knowing basic sign language.
Bright Signs Learning wants to give one lucky reader a kit to get your children on the path to superior comprehension, reading, and sign language skills! To enter, complete the giveaway form below! Good luck!
Buy It: To purchase the Bright Signs Learning kit, visit their official website here. They are currently running a coupon for 25% off if you sign up for their mailing list!
Win It: One lucky reader will win a Bright Signs Learning kit! Enter using the giveaway form below.