South Carroll roundup: 'Little Hands Signing' program coming to Eldersburg branch library
By Sharina Taveras Lopez
South Carroll Neighborhoods|
Jun 13, 2017 | 1:41 PM
The Eldersburg branch of the Carroll County Public Library is presenting the Little Hands Signing: Summer Signs program on June 16.
Summer Signs is a program that will expose kids to sign language through songs, games, and other activities.
This program will be presented by Kathy MacMillan, who is the author of "Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together" (Huron Street Press) and a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter.
According to MacMillan, she came up with the idea to have this program at the library. She stated in an email interview that she has been presenting this program throughout the Mid-Atlantic since 2005.
MacMillan was the Children's Services Supervisor at the Eldersburg library in the 1990s and during that time she was studying American Sign Language. She then received a degree in ASL interpreting and became a nationally certified ASL interpreter.
Because of her studies, she came up with the idea of building a program to introduce ASL to hearing audiences.
"The 'Little Hands Signing' programs are specifically geared to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers along with their caregivers. Each class is theme-based and teaches basic signs through stories, songs, and hands-on activities, while also providing information for caregivers about how to use signs with their children every day to smooth communications, reduce tantrums, and enhance bonding," stated MacMillan.
MacMillan also explained that this program will be presented in English, and throughout it she will be introducing basic ASL vocabulary.
According to MacMillan, babies can sign long before they can speak; some as young as three months old. She said that learning sign language could help enhance communication, interpersonal skills, spoken language development, early literacy skills, and bonding.
Throughout the program, she said that both adults and children will have the opportunity to learn the signs together.
For MacMillan, learning how to sign for kids is a skill that "allows young children deeper access to communication, and learning even the basics of ASL gives them a better understanding of ASL and the Deaf Community as they get older."
For children with speech delays, sensory processing issues, or hearing loss, signing is a necessary lifeline. The most important skill young children have to develop is communication, because that is what allows them to get all of their other needs met and learn more about the world.
MacMillan also explained that this program is also targeted to adults because it opens their minds to a new language. She stated that many people do not know or "don't realize" that sign language is a "real language" and it is not universal.