This month’s Featured Instructor is Franci Agajanian!
When did you decide you wanted to teach baby sign language?
Since I have been a Parent Education teacher for 18 years, AND was already an interpreter/translator for the Deaf, it was a natural fit. When I saw stars on Television (Oprah, Good Morning America, etc) raving about the “new” discovery that babies could learn to sign before they could speak, I knew I had to teach this 200 year old method to the parents in my classes. It also bothered me that some of the programs being offered were “made up” systems of baby signs. I feel if you are going to teach a child another language, it should be a real one that other people will understand! That’s why it is important to use an ASL (American Sign Language) or SEE (Signed Exact English) based system, like Kindersigns.
When and how did you get started teaching baby sign language?
I started with one or two lessons in my Parenting Classes at the South Bay Adult School in Manhattan/Redondo Beach. Then I made a proposal to my Supervisor for a separate, dedicated class, and they were immediately on board. They found a room for me to use, which is nice, because I can keep all my materials in one place from week to week. They also helped me advertise the class. Finding materials appropriate for babies AND Moms was difficult at first, until I found KinderSigns.
What is the most important thing/lesson you have learned working with children?
They are little sponges! They will pick up new information soooo quickly! They WANT to learn and communicate, and that’s what sign language does for parents and babies-it helps them communicate sooner! Since I have been a teacher for 35 years, I know you need patience, a since of humor, and a bit of acting to keep things interesting for the children.
What are your inspirations?
The babies who come back a year later, talking up a storm, but still wanting to know “what’s the sign for….” I have parents reporting to me that their child is so verbal, and was able to communicate what they wanted so much earlier than they expected. I also have a friend who is deaf, and she brings her hearing children to visit my class as a demonstration of how they have always communicated in their family. Fina is a wonderful mother of four hearing children and one of my main inspirations.
Any news that you would like to share with us?
My photo was published in the So Bay Daily Breeze newspaper, working with a pre-K student at Edison Preschool.
My class runs from Sept. through June for 5month to 18 month old babies and their moms.
A bit about Franci
I live in Hermosa Beach, Ca, and have been a teacher most of my life. I graduated from USC, and taught Special Ed. for LA Unified School District for 7 years. Then when my own children came along, I became a Director of a Preschool, and Teacher of Parent Education Classes for the South Bay Adult School, in Manhattan Beach. Along the way, I took Sign Language classes in the Interpreter Training Program and received a certificate from El Camino College in Torrance. I interpret at church and occasionally in local schools.
I have a wonderful, supportive husband of 34 years, and 3 adult children, one daughter-in-law (no grandbabies, yet)
Franci is also listed as the Featured Instructor on www.Kinderworkshops.com, check it out!
If you would like to be our next Featured Instructor send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Featured Instructor in the subject line. Our Featured Instructors will be presented in the monthly Kindersigns newsletter and on www.kinderworkshops.com for one month!