My name is Charlene Slaats-Gray and I am the CEO and a certified Sign Language Instructor. My experience working with children with diverse levels of hearing loss began with my volunteer work at Robarts School for the Deaf. Seeing many Deaf children who have hearing parents, I noticed the need, and desire, for hearing parents to bridge the communication gap between themselves and their child. Being fascinated with the concept of hearing siblings exposed to signing and having what appeared to be a larger vocabulary made complete sense to me as ASL encompasses a number of learning styles but specifically visual and kinesthetic.
Teaching for a number of years led to me guest ecturing and doing workshops for teacher education programs on the concept of using sign language to help promote literacy in our schools. I’m grateful and pleased to say these lectures, were very well received.
The journey of watching the benefits families have had from taking classes has been an incredible one for me as well as for the families in that they have been able to strengthen their bonds, communicate early, know what their baby wants and went they want it which had resulted in fewer tantrums and raising babies with higher self-esteem.
ASL is not only beneficial for babies but for anyone who does not have a voice. I am passionate about offering a means of communication to those with, APHASIA, AUTISM CEREBRAL PALSY, and/or DOWN SYNDROME. Also through the years, we have gained the experience of offering our services to Educational Assistants through the Thames Valley School Board, Medics, Seniors, and various other workplace workshops. We understand that through the amazing benefits of American Sign Language (ASL) you can help give most anyone a “voice”.
“Avi practicing his “I love you” sign! Thanks Charlene!! These moments are so unforgettable!”
“I can’t tell you how wonderful it has been having two children who have never been frustrated with trying to get their message across to me because they felt the lacked the means to do so from the age of 6 months onward..” Valerie Klint
We took a baby sign language class with our son when he was 7 months old. Although skeptical at first, we continued to teach him the signs. Before the age of one he made his first sign for milk. The other signs came quickly after! Friends and family were amazed with how successfully we could communicate with our baby. We truly believed that this reduced a lot of frustration. I would recommend all new parents take this class with Charlene! Mindy Clunas
Emma signing “Milk”
“Charlenes class was a great tool to teach Emma signs. I don’t think a book or video would have given me the confidence to constantly sign items to her. We not only learned signs but sang songs and played games. It was a lot of fun for Emma and myself and gave us an opportunity to get out of the house and have some fun! I would recommend Smart Hands to everyone with a baby. It is such great feelings to have your one year old communicate with you and ask for anything from bed to bath or juice to Cheese. It’s amazing!! ” Melanie Colema
“Charlene’s baby sign class was amazing… our lil guy communicated so well from such an early age and I swear it’s from our experience with My Smart Hands London ! Totally recommend it!” Alison McConnell
“My Smart Hands is amazing! My daughter is 8 months and can now sign some words competently and is working on more every day. Charlene makes class fun and educational and the babies love the songs! I would recommend it to any new parents. What better way to bond with your baby than through communication and play!” Cyn Murray
“My son Linkin, age 7 months old, has learned and enjoys continuing to learn sign language. So far, he knows how to sign milk, diaper, help, sleep and recently he started signing dog. My parents have three. He’s been making really great progress and I’m amazed at what he knows and practices daily. It’s so helpful knowing what he wants or needs, being that he isn’t yet able to verbally communicate. You have been a wonderful teacher and we kindly thank you!” Katie Webster
“The My Smart Hands manual we received as a part of the course was a great reference book! We loaned the book out to family members so they can know what James is saying to them. My son likes to flip through and look at all the pictures too!
They say that signing works and primarily babies love movement and signing is just that. In the classes he seemed to really enjoy watching other people signing, whether it was the kids, the moms, or the teacher. I would highly recommend that any parent should teach their child sign language. James now at 17 months is a happy child who rarely gets upset, as he can tell us what he wants or needs. He tells me when he is hungry or thirsty and even when his bottom is wet! He can also tell me he loves me, what better reward is there than that!” Jennifer Goldik
“Leah signed ‘more’ today! 100% for sure while sharing my yogurt! I signed more in between bites and she looked at me and did it! It was so awesome!”