Children's sign language classes open communication within families
Posted: 2014 Jun 20 - 06:34
By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
BREVARD -- When Kelly Hosna's daughter was born, she began teaching her daughter some basic sign language skills to help her communicate with both she and her husband before her daughter could talk.
"As soon as we noticed that she was signing back, at about 7 months, a light bulb went off, and we decided to go ahead and keep on learningand teaching her more American Sign Language," Mrs. Hosna said.
After successfully teaching her two children ASL as their first language, Mrs. Hosna, who is known as Ms. Kelly by her students, said she decided to use her background in education to share her knowledge with others.
For roughly one year, Mrs. Hosna has been teaching "Play, Sign andLearn" classes with her company, Little Hands for Learning, which is accredited through the Signing Time Academy.
"The classes that I teach are designed to teach more than just sign language vocabulary," Mrs. Hosna said. "We work on sensory experiences, whole-body development, gross and fine motor skills. We use nursery rhymes, music, hands-on crafts and books each class to reinforce the vocabulary introduced around a weekly theme."
Mrs. Hosna added that what she is doing through Little Hands for Learning is not just teaching children ASL signs, but when, where and how to incorporate sign language into daily life.
"As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher," Mrs. Hosna said. "You can already read body clues and moods of your child better than anyone else."
It is through the incorporation of ASL that Mrs. Hosna said allows parents to become more aware to slight details their child is sending, thus allowing the parent to become more attuned to their child's moods, feelings and actions.
The classes at Little Hands for Learning are based around developmentally appropriate play, so students do not just sit in a chair and learn ASL.
"We do puzzles, bubbles, dance and make sure to have a good time," Mrs. Hosna said. "After each class, a take-home [packet] is developed that has a written description of the signs that were covered in class that day, so they can be shared with other care providers for the child."
Mrs. Hosna said that by learning ASL, frustration, associated with early communication between child and parent, can be greatly reduced, as the child can make a request and be clearly understood, rather than what Mrs. Hosna called "the typical pantry, whine and point," while a parent guesses what snack his or her child wants.
One of Mrs. Hosna's clients, Ashley Eubanks Costello, said using ASL with her daughter, who is 17 months old, has provided an excellentcommunication tool.
"Signing gives her the confidence and ability to tell me what she wants and what she's feeling," Mrs. Eubanks Costello said. "It is such a blessing to help your sick baby, to know when she wants to play and what she wants to play. Signing is beneficial because it is just another way to help encourage interaction between our children and the rest of the world."
Another client, Sarah Michlitsch, said learning ASL through Little Hands for Learning has helped further bond her to her daughter.
"She knew what she wanted, and now she can tell me. While saying the word with the sign, her vocabulary has increased, and she formulates full sentences now, and she is not yet 2," Mrs. Michlitsch said. "[ASL] helps avoid tantrums because she can communicate with you. It also can improve hand-eye coordination, a lifelong skill. We live in a society that loveselectronics and TV; this is a more beneficial way to spend time together without being plugged in."
By learning ASL, Mrs. Hosna said that research, funded by the National Institute for Health, has shown that it can boost I.Q. Furthermore, language exposure is beneficial in developing brain pathways.
Throughout the month of June, Mrs. Hosna will host a variety of field trips, including visits to Publix, a petting farm, a restaurant and a trip to Brevard Zoo.
"These trips are sign language in action," she said. "We are learning about animals, colors and table manners." Come August, Mrs. Hosna will resume her traditional "Play, Sign and Learn" classes, which are taught in eight-week sessions.
"Babies use ASL for communication; toddlers use it for vocabulary; preschoolers use it for early reading skills; early elementary children use ASL for sight and spelling words, while older elementary children use it for whole-body learning and cross-brain growth," Mrs. Hosna said. "American Sign Language is a beautiful language, and I am so happy that I was able to share it with my children. I hope that others can share it with their families. This is about bringing communication to families, not just teaching classes."
For more information about Little Hands for Learning, visit or or email Kelly Hosna at Kelly@LittleHandsForLearning.com.