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Columbia Missourian

Parents, toddlers learn new mode of communication

August 21, 2008 | 10:25 p.m. CDT
Brenda Haynes waves goodbye at the end of a "Kindermusik with Brenda" class. Several parents took their children to the Columbia Public Library to attend a 30-minute course on using the sign language to communicate.



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COLUMBIA - "Let's all sit in a circle and play," Ms. Brenda said while signing the word for ‘play' - twisting two fists with pinkies and thumbs extended. All the parents brought their infants and toddlers to the floor and mimicked the sign together.

Brenda Haynes, or Ms. Brenda, has owned Kindermusik with Brenda since 2005. She hosted the free 30-minute Sign and Sing class at the Columbia Public Library on Thursday night in an effort to give parents another way of communicating with their babies.

"We know that children learn faster when they have different modes of communication," Haynes said. "If they hear the words and see the sign, it's like a double exposure."

Haynes taught the parents about 10 signs and said they should begin to implement a couple signs that are relevant to a family's lifestyle. They can add more signs as they get comfortable. Because babies generally need to hear a word 2,000 times before utilizing it and understanding it, Haynes said, speaking and signing the word could cut that amount in half.

"It eases frustration for both her and me because she can communicate what she wants me to know, and I don't have to guess over and over," Nicole Johnson said of her two-year-old daughter, Raegan.

Haynes passed out noisemakers and led the group in a few songs. She explained to parents that, even if their kids aren't immediately signing back to them, they are still getting information. She stressed that they don't have to sign everything all the time, just the key words such as "eat," "clean up" or "happy." Parents can look on the Internet for words they don't know.

"Now I know one more way to communicate with my child," Thilakavathy Subramanian said of her son, Johnathan. "He's only going to be 3, and I had no idea they could understand signs."

For more information on classes and schedules, visit