Hackford TinyTalk teacher Maria Holloway proves the key to talking to babies is in your hands
- Credit: Archant
She has been helping our community's youngest members communicate for 13 years.
And now toddler sign language teacher Maria Holloway has been recognised for her work.
Mrs Holloway, 47, of Hackford, near Wymondham, has won a 'Top TinyTalk Toddler Teacher' award for the second year in a row.
She said she was thrilled with the award, which followed a vote by TinyTalk teachers across the country.
Mrs Holloway said: 'It's brilliant. It's a fantastic feeling to get that recognition not just from the parents, but from the teachers as well who look up to you and respect what you do.'
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Mrs Holloway, who runs classes for children from birth to age four in Wymondham, Attleborough and Norwich, is now the longest-running teacher out of more than 120 at TinyTalk, which was established in 2002.
In the classes, toddlers learn signs from British sign language and also how to communicate by using puppets, shakers and through other activities.
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It has been found that children can communicate through signs from the age of six months, allowing parents and carers to find out exactly what their little ones are thinking.
Popular signs are 'milk', 'food', 'book' and 'duck'.
Examples of how babies' signs can be surprising and helpful are a baby signing 'home' when they were frightened of a firework display, another signing 'cloud' when they noticed someone wearing a padded white jacket, or signing 'water' when their parents forgot their drink at a meal time.
Mrs Holloway said there were about 20 toddlers in each class. She said: 'We use sign language to help children communicate before they can talk. It helps them, and it helps cut down on their frustration as well.'
She said she was constantly delighted by seeing how signing could enrich the relationships between babies and those that care for them.
Mrs Holloway said: 'I have been a TinyTalk teacher for 13 years teaching babies and toddlers how to communicate and increase their language skills through signing, singing and having fun.
'It's the best job in the world and I love my TinyTalkers and their families.'
TinyTalk's founder and managing director, Katie Mayne, said: 'Everyone works very hard to ensure that our classes are always lots of fun.'