As soon as her son, Cooper, was big enough to lift his hand, Erin Rice started teaching him sign language. "By the time he was 3 months old, he was able to tell me when he wanted more of something," says the preschool program coordinator and curriculum specialist at Rainbow Station at Wyndham, a school that has programs for children from infancy to age 14. All of the classrooms for infants through age 3 at Richmond area Rainbow Station schools are certified in Baby Signs, a program that teaches caregivers how to communicate with babies using simple hand gestures. A longitudinal study conducted through the National Institutes of Health found that 8-year-old children who were taught to sign as babies scored an average of 12 points higher on IQ tests than their non-signing peers. Because signing lets babies exercise some degree of control over their environment, it also often results in fewer tantrums for the baby and less stress for the parents.