Studies have shown that teaching sign language to pre-verbal infants can lead to increased communication, fewer tantrums, and even higher IQ scores down the road and Chicagoland parents have taken note: Communication Junction, a popular sign language program for little ones, was your Totally Awesome pick for best local language classes for kids! Offering both private and group classes, owner and speech pathologist Abbey Cook works with kiddos of all ages to bolster communication skills and fight language deficiencies—all while having fun.

Abbey recently took the time to chat with us about what makes Communication Junction awesome, the inspiration behind her business, and more. Read on:

Red Tricycle: Congratulations! Your community recently voted you “Most Awesome”. What do you think your customers value most about your business?

Abbey Cook: My customers value the experience of my classes. They are immediately engaged with their child and able to deepen the parent/child bond. Using sign language with their child enhances communication as well as encourages literacy development. Parents are excited to take my classes because they are fun for both parent and child: interactive, informative and relevant.

RT: What inspired you to start your business?

AC: In my “first life” I was a Speech Language Pathologist with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children. Once I started having my own children and saw the impact that signing had on their language and vocabulary development, I knew I needed to share the message. Thus Communication Junction was born.

RT: Any advice for new business owners just getting started?

AC: Network with other small business owners.

RT: Can you give us one tip for balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood?

AC: Have a great babysitter and make sure you and your partner are clear on how much time running your business will take from your family. Honesty and clarity are crucial!

RT: What is your proudest moment as a business owner or parent?

AC: My proudest moment as a business owner is when families refer my classes to other families.  It is then that I know I am making a difference!

RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?

AC: Yes! Red Tricycle readers can receive 10% off their first Communication Junction Class.

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