GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A speech pathologist turned mother is bringing the benefits of sign language to other West Michigan babies and their parents.
Emily Goudreault owns High 5 Communication Resources.
When she became a mother, she was excited to enroll her son Callum in baby sign language classes, but she was surprised to find that class didn’t exist locally.
“So I thought, ‘Well, that needs to be something our community has because it has such great benefits for families and kiddos,” said Goudreault.
As a speech pathologist working with babies and toddlers, Goudreault has seen the benefits sign language can provide.
“Bigger vocabularies, using longer sentences and understanding more words. Those benefits last even longer than they sign,” she said.
So Goudreault went to work teaching sign language classes to parents and their children –toddlers and babies as young as 6 months old.
Jenna McPherson is a first-time mother to Sophia, who will turn 2 years old in a month.
“She gets a little frustrated when she’s trying to communicate. She doesn’t say many words yet so (this is) just a way for her to be able to talk to me and just giving us another outlet to use,” said McPherson.
Simple signs for “milk,” “help” and “sleepy” can aid in bridging the communication gap between little ones and their parents.
“She’s already signing a few words, which that’s pretty cool. It’s our third week now,” said McPherson.
Thursday’s lesson in Grand Rapids revolved around food. Parents learned how to sign “apple,” “banana” and “cereal.” The lesson is one they’ll be able to take home and implement in their daily lives.
Goudreault says the key is consistency.
“You have to pick the signs that you’re going to work on and really try to consistently sign them at home with your baby every time,” she explained.
Parents can rest easy: Goudreault says sign language won’t impede a child’s speech development and there is plenty of research to back it up.
High 5 Communications is now accepting fall registrations for its eight-week baby sign language classes in Holland and Grand Rapids. Goudreault says parents who sign up can expect to learn 12-20 signs per class.