Could Sign Language Make Your Child Smarter?

By: Rachel Phillips
By: Rachel Phillips

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July 14--A former Wichita teacher for the hearing impaired is now using sign language with her own child whose hearing is perfectly fine. She found the results of her signing so successful she started her own business "Signing Tots"--now a government funded study shows she may be right.

For 2-year-old George Schulte, telling his mom what he wants means using his mouth and his hands. George's mother, Jane, teaches parents how to use sign language to communicate with their babies. Jane says sign language can help a baby tell you what they need, long before they actually say words. By finding an alternate way to communicate, parents can prevent or minimize tantrums or meltdowns with babies who can not speak. "I can maybe understand what's wrong quicker because i'm seeing what's wrong right away instead of him repeating 6 or 7 times before I understand what happened," Jane Schulte said.

A study funded in part by the National Institutes Of Health shows signing may actually help your child become smarter--increasing IQ by 12 points in some cases. The research also showed toddlers that signed were speaking as well as children more than a year older than them.

Many parents are concerned sign language will hinder a baby from learning to talk. Schulte says signing should always be done while actually saying the words at the same time. "The child doesn't even have an awareness that the deaf community can use this in silence because you always give the sign at the same time you give it orally," said Schulte.

Parents can start signing as early as seven months. Your baby should start signing back around 10 or 11 months.

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