Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Signing with Preschoolers

Once Ellie turned three in April, my thoughts about preschool leaped from the back-burner to the front of my mind.

As a kid, my sisters and I didn't go to preschool (we were at home till kindergarten), and I remember being proud of myself for learning how to read before starting school (thanks, Mom!).  But now it seems like it's the norm.  What kids once learned in Kindergarten seems to be what they're expected to know already before they start. (Or is it just me?!)

It's pretty amazing how much our little ones are capable of.  I didn't think Ellie could be reading at this age--and whether it was sign language or just her own interest or iPad games or what--it's been fun seeing her learn and grow. :) 

Some friends and I have banded together to do a preschool day once a week for our little preschoolers.  We introduce some concepts to work on at home for the next week, and it's been really cute seeing them learn and play together.

My goal right now is mainly exposure.  I try to surround Ellie with fun ways to learn, and try to go with what she gets excited about or what her interests are.  With her starting to read, I can already see her expressing frustration with herself when she can't sound out a word.  The little perfectionist. :)  So my hope is to keep it light and enjoyable so it stays fun, and only do little bits at a time.

With fun in mind--and for this sign language loving mama--I get excited about how well sign language and learning go hand-in-hand.  It makes sense after all--it taps into all the major learning modalities of our little ones--tactile, kinesthetic, auditory (since you say and sign together), and visual.  AND it helps with memory (so all that learning will stick).  AND it gets our silly energetic ones moving and staying engaged!  So basically, two big thumbs up all around. :)

This is why I'm absolutely thrilled that the creators of Signing Time have come out with a preschool program, called Rachel and the Treeschoolers!  Ellie has gotten so excited each time a new episode has been released (the fourth one JUST came out!).  I still remember how she'd ask me to sing  "tiny tiny" every night before bed after she first saw it a year and a half ago. (Click link to see a preview of this song from the "Rainy Day" episode.)
 Rachel Coleman
The themes so far have been about weather, plants, insects, and now the human body.  They're full of cute animal characters (the "treeschoolers"), who are taught by Rachel as she leads them through the steps of wondering, searching for answers, learning, and then sharing with others.  I love that the episodes all have a free Activity Guide to go with them as well--which has been perfect to include in the homeschool preschool we're doing!

Each episode includes a few signs, along with a game, learning from an expert, and a handful of energetic songs.

That's probably Ellie's favorite part--following Rachel's and the kids' dance moves, and singing along to all the songs.  The energetic peanut doesn't even realize she's learning as she's busting out these songs. :) Her favorites that she always hops up to dance to are about thunder & lightning, how a seed grows, photosynthesis, the parts of a bug, and now a funny body-twisting extended version of head-shoulders-knees-and-toes.

Do you have a preschooler (or soon-to-be preschooler) of your own?  If you would love to win your own copy of the newly released episode, "The Amazing Human Body," fill out the rafflecopter below (a $22 value)!  (Shipping to the U.S. only.)  Feel free to email me at littlesignofmine (at) gmail (dot) com with any questions!  
Here's a preview for the newest episode for you to check out!  "The Amazing Human Body" Preview
And you can find out more about Rachel & the TreeSchoolers here.

*Disclaimer: This isn't a sponsored post from Two Little Hands--I purchased the DVD/CD for the giveaway myself, and the rave reviews are my honest own! :)  And if you'd like to purchase any of the TreeSchoolers episodes or any Signing Time product, feel free to email me to place an order. (As a certified Baby Signing Time instructor I'm also authorized to sell their awesome products!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway