Katie Mayne founded TinyTalk in 2002. Through her experience and understanding as a teacher of the Deaf, Katie could see how sign language could really benefit hearing babies. She had researched how many hearing babies, born to parents where one was deaf and one hearing (and effectively being brought up bilingually, through sign and speech) were, time after time, showing very early understanding of their parents’ messages. They were also communicating before they could talk, through baby signing. She could see that there was benefit here for all hearing babies.
Katie began baby signing with her first born, Harry, from 7 months, to his amusement and her husband’s cynicism. However six weeks later, when Harry reminded them, by baby signing, that he was aware that they had failed to give him his morning milk and that he would like it now please (!), they were both blown away. From ‘milk’, ‘food’ then ‘more’ came quickly. Katie expanded her baby signing repertoire to include ‘bath time’, ‘book’, ‘bed’, ‘duck’, ‘fish’…. and on and on they progressed, with Harry’s understood and signed vocabulary growing steadily larger and larger too. Friends urged Katie to teach their children baby signing and TinyTalk was born.
TinyTalk delivers fun weekly classes for mums and babies, teaching baby signs along to well known nursery rhymes and action songs. There are also instruments, props and even books to share. In the second half hour there is playtime for the children and a chance for a coffee, chocolate biscuit and a chat for the mums. This formula was such a success that local families “raved” about the classes and word spread!
Local press led to national press, which led to television interviews, including the exciting one on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ (with Philip and Fern!) Although it all seemed so brief and one of the children cried (see the opening credits of the show to see Philip comforting Toby!) the interest in baby signing was phenomenal. People enquired after the Signing Pack, their nearest baby signing class, as well as how they too could teach the baby signing classes.
The national TinyTalk baby signing business began in May 2003 when the company was incorporated and the first group of baby signing teachers was trained. Since then, TinyTalk baby signing classes have gone from strength to strength and went international in 2007 with classes in the UAE, Australia and New Zealand.
Katie was a top finalist at the ‘Inspirational Business Mum of the Year 2007′ Awards (organised by Prowess and sponsored by Yellow Pages) and received a ‘Highly Commended Special Award’ as Top Finalist. Katie was thrilled and commented, “I’m delighted to win the award as I feel that TinyTalk really does support other mums- through both our Classes and our Teaching Opportunity. TinyTalk Classes help families understand and experience the amazing benefits of baby signing. We teach families how to develop their babies’ early speech, language and literacy skills. Our half an hour social and support time in each class is also very important! I also know that our Teaching Opportunity allows mums a rare chance to work with their baby alongside them (and no childcare costs to consider either!). Many mums enjoy signing so much with their own babies that they are keen to ‘pass it on’, inspiring other families to reap the enormous benefits of baby signing. They also run their own business as part of a very strong, supportive team. They get the best of both worlds!
Being a TinyTalk teacher is not only worthwhile, financially rewarding and social, it’s very family-friendly too. The majority of our teachers take their babies to classes with them, so spend quality time with their little ones whilst working. They also have the flexibility to run their classes to fit around school, so they’re still available for their older children and their most important job- Mummy! For many mums who are returning to work, becoming a TinyTalk teacher is the ultimate lifestyle choice.”
With a committed team of trained baby signing teachers delivering baby signing classes across the UK, Ireland, the UAE, Australia and New Zealand, TinyTalk is supporting thousands of parents and carers to understand their children better. To join a fun and supportive TinyTalk baby signing class near you or to find out more about the TinyTalk Teaching Opportunity visit the TinyTalk website: www.tinytalk.co.uk
TinyTalk (UK, Ireland and UAE) and TinySign (Australia and NZ)