“Mummy, can you sign Apatosaurus?”

An update from Victoria Manders-Wood, juggling her children and BSL level 3 studies all at once!

Hurray, I’ve finally got around to writing my blog! It’s been a difficult and busy few weeks; my hubby is off singing with Welsh National Opera in Cardiff, and so is working and travelling more than 12 hours a day. Elsie has started teething and is refusing to sleep during the day, which leaves her very grumpy and grizzly by the evening (and I’m feeling pretty much the same!).

William, on the other hand, has taken a real interest in signing and I have, on more than one occasion recently, found him ‘signing’ to himself. The signs themselves are mostly nonsense, although he will ask me what certain signs are and copy them (mainly different dinosaurs which are his current passion), but what I noticed particularly was how animated his facial expressions and body language were. As hearing adults, I think we are often slightly embarrassed and inhibited about being expressive with our faces and bodies, and perhaps I can learn something from my three year old and his uninhibited enthusiasm.

Unfortunately though, signing practise for me has taken a bit of a back seat recently, as by the time both children are asleep, and we’ve made dinner, I’m fit for nothing more than collapsing on the sofa, before dozing off in front of the TV! I’ve made a resolution to ‘practise what I preach’ to my singing students, and try and do just 15 minutes practise every day. I think little and often is better than trying to cram in an hour or two the day before my class!

Since my last blog, I am now officially a volunteer classroom assistant, working with my Level 2 tutor from last year and her new class. I’ve been helping the students practise their presentations for the 202 exam. It’s interesting to note how much vocabulary I have forgotten because I’m not using it regularly, and having to remember signs and show other students makes me more aware of the importance of being precise with my hand shapes. Going to the class and having some adult company is keeping me sane when I’ve got a screaming baby who refuses to sleep, and it means that I get some time to practise my own signing when I’m chatting with the tutor in the break.

I’ve found my Level 3 studies difficult recently, mainly because I haven’t had as much time as I need to practise and revise the new things I’ve learned. It’s just starting to become apparent how difficult it is to study at this level with a new baby in the house. I’ve just applied for the next part of the course (the new Signature certificate), and I’ve also applied for the NVQ (while it is still running) as I want to try and work out which one will suit me and my time commitments better. My son goes to nursery in April, so hopefully I will have a little more time to study.

There are many things that I would like to get involved in and which would help me enormously, but can’t at the moment because of the prohibitive cost of childcare. So, my aims for the next few months are:

  1. Go to deaf club.
  2. Do some more volunteering where I can use and practise BSL.
  3. (And this is the really exciting one for me) Start a Signing Choir!

I have been really keen to start a Signing Choir for a while now. Last year I attended some fantastic signed song workshops with the charity ‘Music and the Deaf’ up in Huddersfield. Music and the Deaf are a charity set up in 1988 by Dr Paul Whittaker to help deaf people, and those who live and work with them, to access and enjoy music. I absolutely loved the workshops and thought it would be interesting to try and combine my interests and create a group of singers and signers who could perform together. My plan is to advertise for members locally and then hold some workshops with Music and the Deaf to learn some pieces. I’m currently researching rehearsal spaces, designing flyers and emailing people about workshop dates.

If anyone is interested, then please email me vmanderswood@googlemail.com, and I’ll let you know when we have some more info about workshops.

Right, it’s all quiet here, I finally have a sleeping baby, so I’m off to practise connectors and fingerspelling before the chaos starts again!