Sing and Sign’s popularity continues over the years

Big brother signing where's the baby?

Big brother signing where's the baby? - Credit: Archant

Sing and Sign is the longest running baby-signing classes in East Devon. Its founder, Sarah Glover, runs through some of its successes

Erinn signing more.

Erinn signing more. - Credit: Archant

Sing and Sign is the longest running baby-signing classes in East Devon, having started more than 13 years ago. Its first signers are now at secondary school!

This year a group of children from a local primary school were accepted at grammar school and they were all Sing and Sign babies.

Sarah said: “I can’t prove anything, but it’s an interesting fact!”

Sing and Sign really is fun way to learn baby signing from newborns to two-and-a-half years.

Sarah Glover holds Sing & Sign sessions in Honiton.Ref mhh 12 18TI 0069. Picture: Terry Ife

Sarah Glover holds Sing & Sign sessions in Honiton.Ref mhh 12 18TI 0069. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

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The new babes programme, for all babies under six months, has proved to be really popular with the Honiton class being full this term.

Sarah said: “The parents are loving the ideas that we give them. We talk about the importance of eye contact and gesture and how they are the framework for early communication and the beginnings of a conversation. They go away with lovely songs to sing whilst holding eye contact with their new born and this encourages more engaging one to one time at home. These classes are really relaxed and a great way for new parents to meet other’s in a small, friendly environment.”

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Sarah explained that babies use all sorts of gestures as part of their natural development and the group shows families how to build on these so that they can communicate with their child with signs such as ‘milk’, ‘more’ and ‘nappy change’.

Sing and Sign’s unique approach combines songs, instruments, props, pictures and of course signs! With the help of its beloved Jessie Cat, the group has taught more than 1,000 families in East Devon how to communicate with their children before speech and they’ve all been amazed at what their babies can tell them!

Sarah Glover holds Sing & Sign sessions in Honiton.Ref mhh 12 18TI 0048. Picture: Terry Ife

Sarah Glover holds Sing & Sign sessions in Honiton.Ref mhh 12 18TI 0048. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

The science that’s hidden behind the fun will effortlessly help with your child’s brain development. Early year neuroscience experts say the course aids the development of neural pathways. Music has been proven to help a child’s memory and early communication boosts your child’s speech and vocabulary. Research has shown that a brain develops 80 per cent of its neurons in the first three years of life. Also twice as many synapses are made during these years than the whole of adulthood.

What does this mean for parents and babies? Being able to communicate is fantastic for your child’s self-esteem and as science proves, positive early experiences have a huge effect on children’s chances of achievement, success and happiness.

Sarah said: “The benefits extend to parents, too. Knowing that you have empowered your child to communicate effectively at a young age feels great and interacting with your young communicator means that the frustration of being misunderstood (both parents and baby!) is much reduced.”

“For example, a Sing and Sign mum was playing with some saucepans with her daughter. She asked her 15-month old toddler what she should put in the saucepans and the toddler signed ‘food’. This shows that the child not only understands the sign for food and can use it when she’s hungry. It also shows an understanding that the very same food has been prepared in saucepans! Imagine how good that was for her self-esteem and confidence to be able to share that information with her mother before she can even speak!”

Sarah Glover holds Sing & Sign sessions in Honiton.Ref mhh 12 18TI 0019. Picture: Terry Ife

Sarah Glover holds Sing & Sign sessions in Honiton.Ref mhh 12 18TI 0019. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

If your child is 14+ months, you can join the stage two class and learn all about colours, numbers and even potty training! The group also introduces the phonics alphabet which not only helps speech but makes reading so much easier.

Sarah said Sing and Sign children often benefit from early, clear speech and a broad vocabulary allowing them to hold sophisticated conversations with their adults and their peers who sign with them.

Over the years, the group has raised thousands of pounds for I CAN, cancer research and more recently the Exeter Neo-natal unit.

One of their mums spent July- October at the unit and they decided to raise funds to say thank you.

The Sing and Sign group raised £330 with a week of cake sales at the classes.

Sarah said: “I haven’t always been lucky with my health and was diagnosed with ME several years ago and during the investigations found out I also have Ehlers Danlos type II/III. I continued teaching throughout this time as the classes give me a real boost. As long as I rest after teaching in the mornings then I manage to pace myself and lead a pretty active life. I wouldn’t be able to hold down a full time job with my health issues but Sing and Sign is something I honestly miss teaching during (my much-needed) holiday breaks! It’s a difficult diagnosis as there is no cure and at the start of the journey I met a lot of people in the same boat, we supported each other. It’s all about finding the right work/life balance with fun and rest along the way.

“I love teaching Sing and Sign and often stay in touch with families I’ve met in class. It’s fascinating watching these children grow up and see their progress. I now have the privilege of training new Sing and Sign teachers too, which is extremely rewarding. Another avenue with Sing and Sign is that I visit nurseries and teach their staff how to use the signing with the nursery children. Teaching adults without the children there is a whole different ball game. In class we use ribbons to demonstrate the colours of the rainbow, for adults I use chocolates wrapped in the rainbow colours! I now work with 10 nurseries in East Devon and love the follow up visits with the children and hearing how useful the staff have found Sing and Sign.”

Sarah said she is has learnt so much about speech, language and brain development since she started Sing and Sign as a hobby, saying it is so much more than a baby signing class and helping parents reduce the frustration for their baby is just the beginning!

She said: “I’ve seen other children’s activities come and go over the years in Honiton and in Exeter. The turnover of families is so much higher now than it was 12-13 years ago. At that time, the classes were full of mostly mums and they would stay in the programme for two years. Now we have a lot more dads in class and grandparents too but the mums can often only attend two terms, as they have to return to work. So I do have to invest more time spreading the word to new families now than ever before.”

Sing and Sign teaches more than 100 babies a week and some of the families have returned with their second, third or even fourth child.

Sarah said: “That is testament to the fact that it’s not just about the signs, but being part of a Sing and Sign class itself is a fun environment for the whole family.”

Recently Sarah Glover hosted a South West Sing and Sign Conference.

She said: “It was a chance for us to get together and share ideas and stories about Sing and Sign.

“We have three new franchisees in the region and we wanted a chance to welcome them to our thriving team!”

If you would like to join in the fun, contact East Devon Sing and Sign are currently running classes in Exeter, Honiton and Sidmouth. For further information see

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