Cherry Willingham mum of three, Danielle Ashby, runs TinyTalk Lincoln; sessions that teach babies, toddlers and their parents how to communicate before they can speak and beyond using core British Sign Language signs.
Danielle attended the TinyTalk classes herself as mum since her eldest was 6 months old but has recently swapped seats by taking on the role of the teacher. “After having my third baby in April 2021, I was looking forward to starting another signing journey with my baby, but I found out that the previous teacher was no longer able to run classes in Lincoln.” Danielle recalls, “I felt I had to do something about it and bring TinyTalk back to Lincoln.”
“I have loved attending these classes over the years” Danielle continues, “I felt like Lincoln would be really missing out. I have seen firsthand the huge benefits that come with TinyTalk and signing; reducing communication frustrations between baby and parents, the amazing bonding experiences, developing language skills and social interaction skills with other babies. Sharing these skills and experiences developed into a passion of mine.”
TinyTalk first launched in 2002, created by Katie Mayne, a mum of two and former Primary School Teacher and Teacher of the Deaf. There are now over 100 franchises across the UK and Switzerland, with TinyTalk teaching over 7,000 young families, delivering nearly 500 classes each week. As the UK’s leading baby signing organisation, they also have partnerships with the likes of Tesco, NSPCC, ITV, LEGO Duplo, Disney and Harrods.
In the baby class Danielle teaches 150 core signs which are broke down into weekly themes such as a bedtime routine, going on a picnic and animals. The classes aim to give babies and parents the signs they need to be able to share the baby’s world and daily routines, and subsequently by giving babies a voice it reduces the early years frustrations and gives parents confidence in knowing what their little ones want and need.
“It is not just a once-a-week class” Danielle adds, “it is ongoing support for parents.” Each class has its own WhatsApp group where they receive weekly signing tips, videos and where they can share their signing journey and experiences with each other.
Danielle has also recently started toddler classes, which also have weekly themes designed to excite and capture the toddler’s attention. “It is never too late to start signing.” Says Danielle. Through fun action songs and games, the classes encourage parent/child bonding, encourage cooperation promote learning and curiosity and give support for the little ones, guiding them through those next steps and developmental milestones and to evolve into excellent communicators.
Both classes Danielle runs are an hour long with hands-on props, sensory activities, interactive play and musical instruments. After the taught part of each session there is time to play independently, socialise and there are refreshments for the grownups.
Danielle offers a taster session for parents to have a go and encourages anyone interested to come along. She holds five sessions a week, held in Waddington on Wednesdays, Wragby Road Tesco Community Room on Thursdays, and Nettleham Rugby Club on Fridays.
“I couldn’t imagine my life without it” says Danielle, “my youngest is 17 months and just this morning she told me at breakfast she’d had enough, and throughout the day she tells me when she wants milk or what she can see or hear. My older children still use it to communicate with us and each other and I really can’t imagine a world without it. We don’t give them credit for how clever they are, and most meltdowns and frustrations are that they don’t yet have a voice, so this is giving them that voice.”
If you would like to find out more about TinyTalk Lincoln you can find them on Facebook and Instagram, or you can email Danielle at firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest or for further information.
Credit: Hello Bud Photography