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Does Learning Sign Language Help Babies Learn to Talk and Read?


Can Teaching Babies Sign Language Help Them Learn to Read


Recently, a parent asked us if learning sign language can help babies learn to talk and read. Dr. Kirsten Cullen Sharma provides the below response.  

Some research indicates that babies and toddlers who learn sign language develop larger receptive and expressive vocabularies, read earlier and better, show advanced mental development, and behave better because they can communicate more than children who do not learn sign language. Many experts agree that underlying mechanisms including parent-child communication, empowering the infant to focus on learning, learning and communicating with gestures, and engaging multiple senses are the keys to fostering early, stronger communication and literacy skills. The National Institute for Early Education Research highlights that key components of early reading skills are building oral language development through listening and exposure to vocabulary, building phonological awareness through understanding the alphabet and sounds, and learning about print and its use.

From Zero to Three: Brain Development - Promoting reading in toddlers 12-24 months

  • Sturdy board books that they can carry.  
  • Books with photos of children doing familiar things like sleeping or playing.  
  • Goodnight books for bed time.  
  • Books about saying hello and good-bye.  
  • Books with only a few words on each page.  
  • Books with simple rhymes or predictable text.  
  • Animal books of all sizes and shapes.

Citations and helpful resources:
Wikipedia - Baby Sign Language
National Institute for Early Education Resource
Zero to Three
Sign with your Baby Program

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