speaking with our hands

by Ms. Joy

Boy and I are back at it, learning ASL. He has absolutely perfect hearing in his left ear but we finally received confirmation this spring that his right ear is just there for show and to keep his head from looking lopsided. There is no indication that he will lose the function of his left ear (especially since we don’t know what happened to his right) and he has adapted so well that it’s simply amazing. However, we are working with him to learn American Sign Language because a second language is so valuable to kids and when I try to speak French it is kind of like Joey from Friends.. (“Je m’ blah blah blah”), though I can read it.

We’ve been going at our own pace, using the awesome videos from My Smart Hands and this fab video below from Patty Shukla. I’ll often hear Boy wandering around the house, humming Patty’s songs and practicing the signs from this video. We start each lesson with two songs, one from Patty and the animated My Smart Hands Alphabet. I really like this alphabet song for two reasons. One, it features “zed” for “z” and it does the letter sounds as opposed to “a is for apple”, that way Boy can get a sense of the letter sounds.

An unexpected benefit of us learning ASL, particularly the alphabet, is that it has helped Miss N with her spelling and when they are writing letters and stories and need help spelling the words, I’ll say the letter and do the sign for it. Two birds, one stone and all that.

I’ve included Patty Shukla’s song of commands and basic words, Boy’s favourite from this video is “come here”. Imagine that, he always has something to show us.


My goal is that we will be fluent and at some point I would like to take a formal class with Boy (and Miss N) but for right now, this is working really well for us and there is a little less pressure on the kids. Plus, they’ll have their own secret language. At this year’s holiday concert, Miss N flashed me the “I love you ” sign from the stage, and I’ll bet there was no one else – or at least few- who noticed or knew, but I did.