Kris Smooke owns and operates Tiny Hands Learning (THL), a fast-growing baby sign language business She now offers an online course where families can access her teachings. Tiny Hands Learning was developed out of Kris’ three passions – being an educator, a sign language interpreter, and most importantly being a mom.
What inspired your product or business?
I graduated in the field of Interpreting (ASL) and worked as a freelance interpreter in the Charlotte area prior to becoming a mom.
I am now the mother of two and became passionate about baby signs as soon as I began reaping the benefits of baby signs with my own children.
Describe what your product or business offers people, parents, and/or families.
Tiny Hands Learning Online is a self-paced program that will teach you everything you need to know in order to begin early communication with your little one(s). Early exposure to signing helps babies develop their language and reasoning skills. While other babies are still yelling to get what they want, signing babies are learning how to communicate with words and simple phrases.
I’m sure this is way too much information but I figured you could pick and choose what to use 😉
Here are some more reasons to sign with your baby:
Signing with your infant or toddler can really be a fantastic bonding experience. When you teach you child sign, you must get down at their level and look at them. You must interact with your child, label, talk, describe, make eye contact and demonstrate the sign. All of these interactions can help increase the bond you have with your child.
Language is processed in the left side of our brains while visual stimuli are processed in the right side. Using sign language while also using spoken language engages both sides of the brain simultaneously.
Studies show long-term cognitive benefits of signing including:
+12 IQ point advantage
Larger speaking vocabulary and ability to form longer sentences
Earlier reading and larger reading vocabulary
Better grades in school
Learning a second language is fun and has many developmental benefits. ASL is the third most commonly used language in the United States. One in ten Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Knowing a few signs can give your child the confidence to engage and interact with a deaf child.
Many parents fear that signing will delay or further delay speech. Our experience has been the opposite. If your goal is communication, then signing will meet that communication need much earlier than speech.
Adding signs to the same conversations you’ve already had with children adds visual interest to your interactions and will engage them further in your communications.
“A baby can learn a great deal when he feels important, which not only creates a more confident person, but a more confident communicator (Murkoff, 2003).”
Even older children who have begun talking greatly benefit from signing. Some children begin speaking quite early, but may not have perfect enunciation are complete vocabulary for sometime to come. Signs can help reduce frustration for both the child and the parent, as it offers them alternative tools for communication.
What makes your product or business unique or different from others?
Many programs use made-up baby signs (signs/gestures that might be easier for baby to produce on their own). Our program uses real ASL signs, not “baby signs.” By teaching your child a real language, you are opening up their world in ways that made up signs simply cannot do.
When you sign up for our program you are granted lifetime access to all the videos and course content (including anything that is added in the future). This allows you to go back and review anytime you might have forgotten how to sign something and also to expand your sign vocabulary at your own pace.
What is your favorite component about your product or business?
My favorite part of our online program is all the incredible people who have joined! We have created a close knit community of baby signers and we continue to come together via Zoom every month to chat about progress, ask questions and share our experiences. Many of my “students” have become life long friends and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be connected with so many amazing people on parallel journeys to mine.
Please share anything else you’re proud of about your product or business that you’d like people to know.
I now realize that this online program will never truly be complete. I am constantly adding new material (signed songs, signed books etc.) and I have so many plans in order to continue to grow and expand this course. I am excited to see where this journey will take me!
5 Signs (Tiny Hands Learning)
Where to Start?
Whether your baby is one day old or one year old using sign language with them will jump-start their communication and language skills (and make life a little easier on you). The simplest way to start is one sign at a time. Choose one word to incorporate into your everyday routine and then commit to signing that word every time you hear it/ say it. If you read it in a book or hear it in a song get excited about that word and demonstrate the sign to your little one(s). During this process be sure to lock eyes with your baby and also say the word slowly and clearly. Once you feel comfortable using that sign you can gradually add more to your vocabulary.
MORE is by far the most popular baby sign. It is all about instant gratification. Giving babies a way to communicate that they want “more” of something (usually food) is such a helpful tool. While other babies are crying and yelling for what they want, signing babies are learning to communicate using single words or even simple phrases.
ALL-DONE is also a great sign to teach your baby. Using the sign for “all-done” is a wonderful alternative to babies throwing their food on the floor when they’re finished. Even if you chose to only use the signs MORE and ALL-DONE you will enjoy the benefits that using these baby signs bring.
MILK is another common sign to start off with. Milk is life for babies so it truly empowers them to be able to communicate that they’re hungry at such a young age. When babies are able to get their needs met without so much frustration they learn to trust in you and feel more connected to you. Remember that babies live in the here and now so context is extremely important. When you sign “milk” to baby you should be ready to feed them right away.
HELP is a wonderful sign to offer your baby. Babies begin to understand that they are an individual (and separate from their parents) around 6 months of age. The months to follow are filled with experimenting with their independence and demonstrating their determination to figure things out on their own. Teaching your baby the sign for “help” will allow you to stand back and watch them navigate this stage with the comfort of knowing they can call on you for help before they become frustrated in their task. Also, older babies find it easier to ask for help using sign language when they are too proud to verbally admit it.
PLEASE is my personal favorite sign to use. Teaching your baby the sign for “please” instills manners at a wildly young age. Kids actually love being polite. This is a sign that will stick with your kiddo for many years to come. It’s also a great way to remind your little one(s) to use their manners (even if you’re standing on the opposite side of the room).
When to Start?
There is no such thing as too much language exposure so it’s truly a matter of whenever YOU are ready.
Courses and programs are committed to enhancing early communication with babies and toddlers. She graduated in the field of Interpreting (ASL) and worked as a freelance interpreter in the Charlotte area prior to becoming a mom.
She is now the mother of two and became passionate about baby signs as soon as she began reaping the benefits of baby signs with her own children. She recently created an online course and Tiny Hands Learning is now trusted nationwide by parents, caregivers, doctors, educators and (of course) the babies, too!
Find it here:
Tiny Hands Learning Course:
About Baby Signs
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a window into your baby’s thoughts and growing personality? Actually, you do! Open up the lines of communication with your baby using signs that they can use to communicate before they can talk.
Research suggests that using baby signs has significant and long term benefits for your child’s growing brain.
- Teaching a baby to sign has remarkable emotional and social benefits; reducing tears, tantrums and frustrations.
- Teaching sign language will promote fine motor skills as they practice signing back to you.
- Getting down on your baby’s level and actively engaging with them in this way is a great bonding experience for you both.
- Bilingual families can utilize signs to tie spoken languages together.
- Language is processed in the left side of our brains while visual stimuli is processed in the right side. Using signs while using spoken language engages both sides of the brain simultaneously. Studies show that boosting baby’s brain development in this way can result in:
- Earlier reading and larger reading vocabulary
- Better grades in school
- 12+ IQ point advantage
- Larger speaking vocabulary and ability to form longer sentences
- Signing with your baby gives them a taste of communication and encourages them to talk. Signing babies are generally early talkers.
When to Begin
There is no such thing as too much language exposure so whether you start signing with your baby right from Day 1 or wait until they are nearly 2 years old and desperate for language, you will enjoy the improved communication that baby signing brings!
Find it here:
Youtube Videos (Tiny Hands Learning)
Top 3 Signs to Begin: