The family bedtime routine can be a hectic can’t it? And now you want me to add something to it?


And if you scroll right down to the bottom of this post post, you’ll see how simple…and delightfully formational…you can include this addition to your family bedtime routine.

In fact, I wish I had this resource for my own family bedtime routine. That’s why I created it along with Em Grosland, the artist for Sleepytime Club.

So what is it?

It’s the American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary. And if you already know how valuable ASL can be and want to add it to your family bedtime routine, go down to the bottom to download a page from Sleepytime Club’s Heart bedtime kit for 5 new ASL vocabulary signs in the form of a poem.

What’s particularly helpful about adding this to your family bedtime routine, is this poem gives you and your child some positive affirmations. It was inspired by the famous prayer “God be in my head” attributed to Sir Richard of Chichester. I adapted it so families of all varieties could use it throughout the day as well as incorporate it into their family bedtime routine.

Why American Sign Language?

I first learned the power of ASL when I was teaching in an early childhood education environment with an inspirational and dynamic co-teacher. We had the most creative classroom! I learned so much from engaging with those children and from my colleague. This post about cooking with the children is only one anecdote from those years. My education – and parenting – philosophy is that both adult and child are transformed through the relationship.

I can recall that no matter how these 5-year-olds were respected and honored, they would still be 5-year olds and in need of some boundaries. They talked all…the….time.

This is where ASL cues became powerful allies in the classroom. Everyone knows that the hush signal “shhh!” can actually escalate noisy chatter. The whole room becomes filled with louder and louder – and occasionally aggressive! – “shhh!” sounds as the kids tried to outdo each other.

So when the noise became intolerable, or we couldn’t easily transition from one activity to the other because of babble, my colleague and I would sign this sentence: Please stop talking.

It worked – almost instantaneously. To see the two adult figures in the classroom stand silently and repeat the signs for this sentence had all the children trying to copy our movements. And then it became a part of the normal classroom family routine. Rather than loud “shhh!!!!” we saw children communicate with signs.

We began to incorporate “please”, “thank you”, “cookie”, and “water” at snack. It made our classroom feel like it had its own special language.

So why ASL for children? For very young children, they can communicate their needs as young as 7 months.

What’s even more interesting – and helpful as parenting advice – is in this piece from Parenting Science. It seems that an additional benefit of sign language for babies is social behavior and relationships. “… the mothers who had been instructed to use gestures behaved differently. They were responsive to their babies’ nonverbal cues, and they were more likely to encourage independent exploration. Such results suggest that attempts to use baby signs may make parents more mind-minded, an approach that is linked with more secure attachment relationships.”

Considering adding ASL to your family bedtime routine? Keep these 4 things in mind:

  1. You don’t have to be an expert like Dr. Joseph Garcia or these other notables to incorporate it into your family bedtime routine.
  2. It’s never too late. The benefits of ASL can be enjoyed for every season of our lives. It improves fine motor skills, communication, builds a better vocabulary, and can be a safe way to express feelings. ASL is another language, and we can become bi-lingual reaching out to existing or new friends who are hearing impaired.
  3. Don’t rule out the enjoyment factor. Why not learn something new that expands community, enriches relationships, literature and theater – even music.
  4. Relax about how to introduce this into your family life. Personally, “Please stop talking” had no use in my family routine. I could work in “cookie”, “please”, and “thank you” but it seemed so random.

Which is why I came up with the monthly sign language poem as part of Sleepytime Club’s bedtime kit. Every month, new poem, 4-6 new ASL vocabulary signs to include in your family bedtime routine.

Download it by filling in the form below. You and your family will treasure having this heart-filled poem and ASL language as part of your bedtime routine.

Let me know how it’s going. How do you incorporate new things into the busy daily life of your family?