NEW baby signing class has opened in the Test Valley.

Liz Morland has started classes at Woodley Village Hall in Romsey and another at Chandler’s Ford Methodist Church under the umbrella of the Tiny Talk franchise which has similar schemes across the UK and elsewhere.

Classes are designed for youngsters under the age of two and are about an hour long.

“During the first half-hour we learn signs around a central theme, for example the family, bedtime, playing at home or going to the park,” explained Liz.

“We learn in a fun and interactive way, we sing songs, read books, play instruments and have a wide range of sensory activities which introduce the babies to their senses through fun and imaginative experiences such as bubbles, flashing balls and mirrors.”

The second half-hour is devoted to social time where parents and carers can have a chat over a cup of tea or coffee.

Liz, 39, who is married with two young children, Matthew and Daniel, is a trained speech and language therapist.

“When I had my first child Matthew I used many of the strategies I knew from my experience as a therapist to help develop his communication skills,”she said.

“One of the best things to do to help young children learn to speak is to slow your language down and use signs and gestures as you speak. Teaching a baby how to use signs to communicate is like giving them a voice.

“They are able to tell you their wants and needs such as ask for ‘drink’ or ‘food’.

“Babies also have so much that they want to communicate by simply sharing what they can see, for example they might look out of the window and then sign the word ‘rain’ or ‘dog’.

“All our activities are aimed at teaching babies the fundamental skills they need in order to become effective communicators, these involve visual tracking, pointing, shared attention and listening skills in addition to movements needed to make the signs themselves.

“Many children these days are starting school will poor language skills but babies whose parents have signed with them have a fundamental foundation in their communication skills and their understanding of language.”

To find out more abut the classes, visit Tiny Talks Romsey and Winchester Facebook page.