About Signing Up
Signing Up is dedicated to teaching parents and educational professionals how to use baby sign language (vocabulary from American Sign Language) to better communicate with their preverbal babies and/or students.
Our workshops and classes are designed to be both places of learning and also places where parents can come together in a shared, open environment, have fun and do something unique and interactive with their children. Our instructional Online Videos help families anywhere, anytime use Baby Sign Language with ease and success.
Signing Up welcomes families of all creeds and orientations who want to teach ASL vocabulary to their babies. Signing Up also strongly supports the local d/Deaf community and wishes to acknowledge that we teach ASL vocabulary as a tool for communication for preverbal (hearing) babies, and that we don’t offer classes in ASL as a first or second language.
About Melissa van Wijk, Founder & Owner
Hi! I started Signing Up in 2006 after discovering almost by chance how effective the use of sign language with preverbal infants can be. I had studied American Sign Language while in Graduate School at New York University (M.A. Dance Education), because I wanted to teach d/Deaf students. However, I had never thought about using sign language outside that context until a fateful day in a Baby-and-Me program when I was on the trampoline with an 11-month old boy and made a spur of the moment decision to use the sign for 'Jump' as a visual aid. That moment led me to realize what a great tool signs could be for preverbal, hearing infants and it sent me on this path to make signing with babies as easy-to-learn, accessible, and affordable as possible. Life just gets a little bit easier when you have a tiny human in your family whom you can communicate with a just little bit better, and I am determined to help as many families as I can use this great tool.
My background is in dance. I run Born Dancing, Inc. a tax-exempt nonprofit organization dedicated to inclusive dance education and performance. As a dance educator I work primarily with Students With Disabilities in various public schools throughout New York. I have been fortunate enough to have taught for New York City Ballet, Young Audiences, The Children's Aid Society, and Gymtime Rhythm and Glues at York Avenue Pre-School among others. Over the years I have taught in both Public and Private schools in Early Childhood, Nursery, Pre-School, After School programs, and K-12. My students range in age from 7 months old to age 21, and they include wheel chair drivers, students on the autistic spectrum, students with learning disabilities, students with an intellectual challenge, gifted students, and many others. For five years I volunteered at Mt. Sinai Children's Hospital in New York doing play therapy in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, which was an extraordinary experience. Currently I volunteer with my certified therapy dog, Easter, at nursings home in NYC, which is a surprisingly rewarding and fun experience every time we go.
As part of my graduate studies I interned and did research at the Lexington School for the Deaf and St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf. It was impressive to learn about d/Deafness, Deaf culture and their beautiful language. One of the more striking things I learned about is the sense of reciprocity that exists in the d/Deaf community. It has inspired me to make sure that Signing Up gives back and donates part of its profits to d/Deaf causes.
NYS teaching certifications: Early Childhood, Students With Disabilities Birth - 2nd Grade, Dance K-12th grade, Theater K-12th grade, and Students with Disabilities 7-12th Grade.
About Signing with Babies
The simple truth about baby sign language is that babies can move their hands long before their vocal chords, lips, and mouths are fully ready for speech. Your child (or student or grandchild) can probably clap, give high fives, wave goodbye, or blow kisses long before he'll ever say the words “high five" or "goodbye". By introducing baby sign language, a basic sign vocabulary from American Sign Language (ASL), you are giving your child(ren) the opportunity to communicate and express themselves much earlier than they would otherwise be able to.
We recommend starting baby sign language when your child is about 6 or 7 months old, though any child between 6 and 24 months can benefit from it. Initially we recommend sticking with simple, need-based signs that you use on a daily basis. As with anything else, your baby's progress will be unique to his/her personality and development as well as to your family's or school's needs. Attending one of our popular one-off Workshops or watching our Online Videos will have you on the road to signing success in no time.
The most important thing is to have fun with this, involve as many people as you can, and be prepared to be amazed at how much your baby has to say -or rather sign- to you!