by Mandy McCollum
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is “why should I teach my baby sign language when he/she is not deaf?”
Well that is a good question. Even if your child is not deaf, there is scientific research that has been done to show the benefits of sign language for hearing babies.
Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn, founders of Baby Signs program, have spent a lot of time and energy into research before they developed the program Baby Signs. In their research they focused on hearing babies and the benefits of using signs.
They wanted to make sure that if they made a product for hearing babies that they were not going to cause problems for them in the future.
One myth is that using sign language slows down the baby’s ability to speak. If they can communicate using signs then they will never talk, right? No…research actually proves the opposite.
Results of the study were amazing!!!
The tests revealed at 11-30 months signing babies had a three-month advantage over the non-signers. The babies using baby sign language were also putting together significantly longer and more complex sentences. At 36 months, signers were almost a FULL year ahead of their non signing age mates!!!
Test results at 8 years old, showed those who had used sign language as babies scored an average of 12 points higher in IQ tests then their non-signing peers.
Not only does using baby signs with your baby increase their IQ, it also has other benefits as well.
Some other benefits are:
- Using sign language with your baby can reduce the frustration levels for both baby and mother alike. Have you been in a situation that you could not tell what your child wanted? The only thing that your child could do was drag you to the kitchen, and then point. Well does he want a drink, food, or something on the counter? You could not help him, and after many attempts to figure it out you get frustrated and so is he. Sign language comes in very handy.
- Using sign language with your baby builds trust between the baby and you. Imagine the above situation again. Your child drags you to the kitchen (actually this would not happen if you were signing with them). You are in the kitchen and your baby signs “drink”. You know exactly how to help them, and you give them a drink. Not only does your child walk away with new confidence about himself, he also walks away with the trust that you know how to help him when he needs you.
- Using sign language allows babies to share their world to you. Babies are able to communicate at a very young age. But unfortunately their verbal skills fall far behind, and they are not able to communicate things with us. If they know sign language and have the confidence that you understand them, they will show you what they are thinking and looking at, what they want to know more about, what their interests are, what they don’t like, the list goes on and on.
- Using sign language boosts their positive emotional development, confidence, as well as self esteem. They know what they want, and they have to figure out a way to communicate to us before they can speak. Sign language “bridges” the gap before they can verbalize it to us.
In conclusion, the evidence shows that using sign language with your baby is good for baby as well as for you, the parents. Now you know that signing with your baby increases their IQ throughout their life, decreases the frustration level, builds trust, allows you to share in their world and understand what they are thinking, and boosts confidence and self esteem. The better question to ask would be “Why not use sign language?”
Mandy McCollum has been passionate about sign language since she was young. She is one quarter away from receiving her sign language interpreting degree and has taken classes at the Chicago Deaf Center. She has also taught children sign language as part of a homeschool curriculum.