Your Baby Can Read - But Why?

Betty - posted on 07/05/2010 ( 37 moms have responded )

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You’ve seen the infomercial – a baby sitting in a highchair with mom proudly holding up flashcards that the baby is READING. The voice comes on: “Now with our special program your baby can read!” Huh. My first thought when I saw this was - why on earth do you want your baby to read? Don’t babies have really important things to do – like finding their toes and crawling? My second thought was – what a scam. You don’t need to buy an expensive program to teach your baby to read – all you need to do is read books together. Honestly – it’s that easy.

Anyone who has consistently read books with a young child knows that very soon, with repeated readings of the same book, the child starts to “read” the book. That’s exactly what should happen – and it’s a natural way for kids to start reading. One of the first steps in the reading process is simply word recognition – memorization of “sight” words. A regimented course of expensive DVDs and flashcards will apparently do the same trick – but here’s what that scenario is missing: YOU. (Okay, technically you’re holding the flashcards… but bear with me here…) Reading to your child is about more than just learning to recognize words. Reading with a young child is as much about the connection that the child and the adult are making with each other by sitting together and sharing a book as it is teaching a skill. Reading is a chance to relax, talk, and enjoy being together – and it should be fun, not a lot of work. And if you have a library card – it’s free.

Children who become lifelong readers are children who think of reading as an enjoyable experience. The child who sees mom and dad reading, is read to often in a relaxed happy way, and experiences all sorts of books, is the kid who will likely be reading early and love reading. I worry about the kid whose parents approach reading like a skill-set to check off the list, or worse, believe that a DVD can replace one on one reading time. Kids who are taught to regurgitate sight words in this way will likely hate reading, and what’s worse, they’re missing out on valuable together time with a parent. No DVD (no matter how awesome) can replace the human interaction of reading together. Babies thrive when they are held and talked to – not talked at.

So if you’re considering purchasing a reading system – consider this - your child will learn much more from interaction with you than he/she will ever learn from watching DVDs or flashcards. Do not spend money – spend time. When you read a book with your child you get to stop and say, “Look there’s a worm on this page – remember all those worms we saw on the sidewalk last time it rained?” Now you’re increasing vocabulary, you’re teaching narrative skills, you’re bonding with each other – and you’re having a lot more fun than you would have had if you’d simply plunked your baby in front of a DVD to learn to “read.” So, while these amazing baby reading programs may work – I don’t think they work very well. My money is still on the good, old-fashioned method of reading a book with your child (over and over and over again). What are your thoughts on this? (And don’t even get me started on a certain DVD series named after a super-brainy scientist that is targeted at infants…)

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Dawn - posted on 06/26/2011

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It's all about learning. Put words and pictures in front of your child that they have never ever seen in their life. Tell them about the pictures, make the sounds of the different animals. Ask questions about the pictures? Can you find the tail on the giraffe? The books and flash cards are so much fun. My daughter has learned so many new words, and I am shocked everyday with the new words she pulls into her vocabulary thanks to these wonderful books. They are only educational options for parents to use to assist in the learning process. Use your creative imagination and give your child more mommy/child time. It is so worth it!!

[deleted account]

I am also a Early childhood special ed Teacher and I totally agree with you! There are times when you cannot give your children attention, but that is time for them to learn to be independent, not engage in TV. Children learn to find their own interests and creativity during times when they are not getting parent attention. There is value in learning to read in time, but why on earth does a baby need to read? There is a reason we teach phonemic awareness with phonics and reading together. Comprehension skills, decoding skills, rhyming and other phonemic awareness skills teach the entire process of reading. It is true we memorize some sight words, but the process is just as important as the product! I do see value in this program, because it is not harmful. There are worse things you can expose your children to than learning to READ. I just see some parents looking at this like a miracle that is going to set their above the rest, when in fact what they need to be doing is reading to their children and Talking with them. I have many parents that are not capable of reading with their children because they are not able to read themselves, they have trouble talking with their children because they do not use vocabulary terms that enhance their child's speech, they would definately benefit from programs such as this, however they probably are not who have the money to purchase a program such as this. But thank you for letting me know that I am not only person on earth who thinks this program is a little inappropriate.

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Karin - posted on 08/06/2011

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I agree 100% with the first writer
Another thing that I find important, watching DVD's is harmful to a babies development. It isn't interactive and children only learn through interaction. First a baby finds a DVD interesting, it thinks the things on the screen are real, he will try to interact with them, but there is no interaction from the DVD characters. So after a while a baby will loose focus. There have been several studies showing that watching TV/DVD's for a baby will decrease his neural activity and not increase it. Also why should a baby not be left to wiggle by herself when Mummy is busy in the kitchen or so? A child also needs time to do be quiet, by himself, he doesn't need constant input and most of all at that age he doesn't need something educational to do. It's better education to maybe take their socks off while they are on the play mat and let them explore their toes..:-) And when you have time for your child again, read books and cuddle with him. The child will have learned much more this way than sitting in front of a TV for 30min... 30min?!!!?? Show me a baby that has an attention span of 30min...
Let babies be babies. School type learning starts early enough...

LaVonda - posted on 06/28/2011

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Bravo! I so agree. Take them places. Show them things. Talk to them. Give them enriching experiences. Read to them.

Kathy - posted on 08/31/2010

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I agree. Before my daughter was born I read aloud and sang to her. When she could focus I read to her everyday while pointing to the words as I read. When she was about 9 months old she understood that the symbols on the page meant something so she'd point and say words. She knew what some of the words looked like after a while and knew all of her alphabet by sight by the tine she was 2 and she could count to 25 because that is how many steps there were up to my apartment.

I didn't sit her down and say "and now it's time to have a lesson on..." I just made everything a game and part of our daily routine. It was fun and not a chore. Books stayed around the house and she grew up appreciating them. We took special trips to the library and the incentive to learn how to write her whole name was being able to get a library card. We used to have a word box that she would put new words from books on a card. I'd help her look them up later and she would illustrate the cards to help her remember how to spell them and what they meant. As she got older--late Kindergarten and early first grade, the word cards became sentence strips. We also made our own ABC book with photos and labels. She loved it so much that she gave it to my niece shortly after my sister adopted her because she wanted her to be able to teach her new cousin how to read with it.

Melissa - posted on 08/31/2010

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I am so glad to see this post!! Yes, why does a baby need to be reading? They have plenty of time to get to that.Let them figure out how to do what babies do first. And yes it would be something for them to watch that is educational, so no it wouldn't hurt. I think its the commercials that really bother because it is like their having these babies do tricks. And they are recognizing sight words which to me is not really reading. You gotta have the phonics too. So important to have both.

Stephanie - posted on 08/16/2010

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I am a teacher and a mommy to a one year old boy. I saw the infomercial while I was pregnant and couldn't stop watching it. I was so curious but didn't want to spend that much money to find out what YBCR actually did. I got lucky one day and found someone on Craig's list selling their brand new set for $10. So I thought hey for ten bucks I can check it out. As a teacher I can't recommend this program to anyone that is wanting to teach their child to read (really read). Someone earlier posted that in Kindergarten we teach our kids sight words so what is the difference....the difference is sight words are words that don't follow phonic rules. These are the basic 2-3 letter words. The words in YBCR are random words they don't go together, they don't rhyme, nothing. I didn't understand why the words were grouped together. In school we work on Phonics and Rhyming words to teach our students to read. We also work on the meaning of these words and the meaning of the stories we read. With YBCR there is no comprehension and it doesn't help your child to become a true reader. Sure if you watch something 800 times you will have it memorized but babies don't understand what it truely means. Sure the DVD's are cute and fun to watch. My son will clap his hands when they say the word and dances to some of the songs but don't buy this expecting you child to go pick up a book and truly read it.
I love books and I am lucky enough that I have a son who loves books too! At one year old he has about a 25-30 word vocab and will bring me books all day to read to him. He also will sit by himself and turn pages and talk to himself for hours. The more you talk to your baby and read to them the more they will learn. If you are busy just give them a pile of books or Nick Jr. is a great preschool aged TV station if you need that ( I love the Wonder Pets!)

Sharon - posted on 08/11/2010

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Studies have shown that early reading is not an indication of intelligence. At some time in education, most children "catch-up" to those who were able to read prior to kindergarten. What ybcr does not mention is the ability of the children to "comprehend" what they're reading. As a middle school teacher, I've seen students who can "read" anything you put in front of them. But when you ask them what is the plot, etc., they are unable to answer. Reading to your child allows you to ask questions like, "What do you think is going to happen next?" or "What would you have done in that situation?". Questions that not only build their comprehension but questions that also help to develop their critical thinking skills. Ybcr can teach them the words, but it really can't teach them to develop the discreet skills of reading.

Linda - posted on 08/10/2010

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I totally agree. There's a time and place for formal learning and it's not while your child is still in diapers!
Let children have time to be children!

Donna - posted on 08/10/2010

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My boss got and used the reading program with her granddaughter. Thought it was the greatest thing! would have put my time into making sure my teenage daughter didn't get pregnant again!!!

[deleted account]

I agree completely! My two boys are 13 and 15 and although I read to them constantly, even before they were born, neither one of them likes to read! I have books all over the house, they've see me laugh, cringe, cry while reading and we are often at the library, but nothing seems to work. They know how much enjoyment I get from reading...but still...nothing works. I blame the schools! :) I saw my boys "learn" to hate to read because of the books they forced my sons to read. Often very old, boring books whose main character was always a girl! Horrors!!!! I was able to keep my oldest reading with the "Magic Tree House" series until the 5th grade. Then I was able to snag him on some war novels. The last book I saw him read and truly enjoy was Band of Brothers. Come to think of it, he has mentioned reading Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in class last year on a few occasions, but would NEVER admit to liking it! Now I'm pulling teeth to get him to finish his summer reading~Orwells 1984.

My little guy, who's 13 yrs old, absolutely hates reading!!! Nothing appeals to him...I've checked out books about skate-boarder dudes, drummers, dragons, war lords, warlocks, etc....nothing! I even read the first chapter to him trying to get him hooked, nothing! He does enjoy scary ghost stories....but then ends up sleeping at the foot of my bed scared half to death! Do you think it's more difficult to get boys to enjoy reading? Any suggestions?

I did enjoy reading your post!

Kat - posted on 08/09/2010

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I see nothing wrong with letting a child be entertained by Nick Jr. for 20 mins. or so while they play in the same room as the t.v. my toddler grandson (18mo) "watches" t.v. in snatches of time. He likes Dora the Explorer & is being taught spanish and english words. we don't speak spanish; but his future school is bi-lingual and they have english days and spanish days that alternate with each other. This is a reality that is here to stay in Texas. I am an Early Childhood through 8th gd teacher and I am in favor of anything constructive and educational and emotionally stimulating.

[deleted account]

It's good to hear both sides of the 'story' (pardon the pun) but being a preschool special ed teacher as well, I feel children need to explore, move, and learn. Without the combination of learning motor skills, both large and small, and exploring their environment, in addition to hearing and 'speaking' language, they aren't going to go through the steps necessary to learn. This means learning more than reading but also writing and math skills. Of course the DVD isn't going to hurt them but there are so many other ways to teach children without the use of TV. Exploring their environment teaches them to problem solve as well as learn about many concepts necessary developmentally. Give your child a chance to be a child. They are going to learn at their own rate. Why the need to rush them into learning to read when there are so many other more important skills they need to learn before they are ready for reading. Let them be babies and children!

Amanda - posted on 08/06/2010

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We read to our son every night and he "reads" back to us... no dvd or flashcards needed!!! Plus, he gets to bond with mommy and daddy every night not sit in front of the tv!

Misty - posted on 08/04/2010

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I have two children (1 & 3) and I have this program. It is not just a DVD that you plop your kid in front of and it is not just flashing words and pics at them. There are stories and songs as well as the words with a small video clip to associate with the words. My kids love it and want to watch it far more than I want to see it (or listen to it). It does come with flash cards but it also comes with books that have more than just the flash card words in them. I read tons of books with them but there is value in learning sight words as well. Your Baby can read also gets into some phonics and other reading techniques that have nothing to do with rote memorization. I am a 6th grade math/science teacher but I also have a K-12 Reading endorsement. I was skeptical at first as well so I ordered it on a 30 day trial and I like it and my kids love it. It is vital, however, that all parts of the program are used and not just the DVD and to read other books as well! The program is only worth it if you are willing to put the work into it. You can't plop them in front of the TV and expect them to learn how to read.

Cherie - posted on 08/04/2010

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I agree with you. My boys spent their young years being babies, not learning sight words or trying to read before they could walk. I read to my oldest - at his constant insistence - at a young age and now his reading ability is extraordinary. His teachers are amazed at how well he can read and absorb what he is reading.

My youngest son is just into reading. I used to sit and just read books out loud to him when he was younger, even though he would just crawl around the room and even out of the room. Now that he is about to start 1st grade, his love of books is coming. Each day he wants to read something, even if it is one of my novels and WELL over his head.

For those moms who find educational entertainment out of the DVDs, great! I believe that educational programs are so much better for children than some of the programs on television. I only wish I could get my husband to see that light. Any one know to get a grown man off Spongebob???

Candi - posted on 07/29/2010

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I sort of forced my son to read. My eyes would hurt trying to read his gameboy, so I told him either learn to read or play without directions. BY the time Kindergarten got started, he was on a 1st grade reading level. He read Eragon in 3rd grade and coming out of 5th grade, his reading test score was PHS; which means Past High School. He LOVES to read. My oldest daughter likes to read, but she is very picky about what she reads. My youngest hands me a handful of books each night to read to her. No matter if its a kid book or a chapter book, we will read it until she is too tired to focus. My husband and I love reading and hope my kids will enjoy it as we do

Ans - posted on 07/24/2010

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I agree with you, Betty!
The times you can't give your child your attention are the times he has to play on his own! Children these days do not know how to play, they need to be entertained. I'm blessed with four children who have very imaginative minds. They did not read at age 4, but are vivid readers now. Also we do not have tv, but watch dvd's together on occasion.

Shannon - posted on 07/23/2010

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I agree. My son is 6 and is reading well and he didn't have this program. I simply spent the time reading to him and listening to him read. While lots of parents find it hard to find time, I think that sitting the kids in front of the TV is not a good way to get them started.

Kathy - posted on 07/20/2010

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From the time my son was in the belly, we read books to him. Now that he is 3, reading is a daily routine. We own the "your baby can read" dvds and I find that they do have some instructional value. Someone posted that its nothing but parlor tricks and just memorization, but I disagree. In kindergarten we expose students to sight words... why? So they can commit them to memory. Why? So that they can later develop into fluent readers. The more words little ones are exposed to, the more fluent a reader, the better their comprehension, the better they will do in school. I never force my son to watch the dvds, but when he is allowed to watch tv, he will at times choose that dvd. I can say that this reading program along with daily reading with me have really helped. At 3, my son can read simple books on his own. Is his comprehension the best? Of course not, he's 3! That's a work in progress... So to your question: "your baby can read- but why?".... I ask "your baby can read-why not?"

Traci - posted on 07/19/2010

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As an elementary teacher I want my daughter to go far and do well....at the right pace. She's 15 months old. She picks up books/magazines and turns the pages while looking at the pictures. She doesn't need to know how to read by the time she's three. I was reading at the age of four because of older sisters. If my daughter is because of everyday interaction and above average potential then great. If not she'll learn to like other children her age. Let's let kids be kids!

Leanne - posted on 07/17/2010

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Well before my son could talk we knew that he could recognise letters and numbers as we could say to him 'Where's the 2' and he could show us.
But I'm not into formally 'teaching' babies to read, we've just read lots of books to my son since he was born and he loves it and he's just picking it up. he even sits and reads on his own in the afternoon. (He is 21 months old) I'm sure he will be able to read by 3 but for now he's just enjoying books and thats the main thing. :-)

Betty - posted on 07/15/2010

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Thank you for replying. How would you know that your baby can read when at 8 months babies are just starting to talk or not talking at all?. Babies should just be able to do bay things and not worry about being able to read.

Joselyn - posted on 07/14/2010

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I have the "Your Baby Can Read" program that my mother, a gifted elementary teacher & college coposition professor, purchased for my kids. My son LOVES watching it once a day after his nap. He also loves picture books and seems more interested in the printed words than the pictures after watching these DVD's. My daughter absolutly loves to read but is not a bug fan of the DVD's. I don't think it hurts anything. The more teaching you can do for a child the better. That is why I speak English to my children and my husband speeks Arabic. I also use regular adult vocabulary so my kids are exposed to typical language that makes them think and build connections. We still act silly, play games, and have a ton of fun. From doing this my son is now starting to read, even if it is just sight words, it's still a building block step in the reading process. My daughter loves books and is dying to read so I've started a Wilson Reading teacher to come to our home, a teacher friend of mine, once a week to help her learn to sound out words through phonics. I totally think kids should have every opportunity to be kids, but fun can bring learning as well. As a special ed teacher I see a ton of students who seem as though they are not as academically high as they could be if their parents would have actually done SOMETHING with them, read, talk, take on walks, count flowers, ANYTHING. All in all ANYTHING is better than nothing, and this reading program doesn't hurt anything either.

Betty - posted on 07/14/2010

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I am so glad tht she enjoys books. That is the key to reading success. The human brain is wired to learn to read from sounds so whenever she is ready to read she willbe awesome. She already has acquired the love for books for youi.

Donna - posted on 07/13/2010

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Reading to your child daily is one thing, but "forcing" them into something they really don't need yet seems more like a way for a parent to feel good/better about their "smart" child. I work w/ a fellow teacher who is always bragging about her kindergartners who can read. So what? I could care less if my 4 yo can read or not. She has a great love of books, an I have no desire to take that away from her. But it is fascinating to see how awesome the human mind is, even at such an early age!

Jennifer - posted on 07/13/2010

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I read to my daughter all the time when she was little but I did buy her a phonics "learning to read" tape system. This was because she was becoming impatient and wanted to learn to read. She actually was sitting at my mom's house holding the newspaper and crying. When my mom asked what was wrong she sobbed "I can't read!". LOL (Age 3)

I spent a LOT of time with my daughter and we played learning games all the time. While we were driving I would ask her the color of things and if she got it right, I would praise her and if she got it wrong, I would give her the right answer and go back to some she could do well. (3 easy questions to 1 hard one) We did the same with the phonics tapes. We treated it like it was a game and when she started acting like she didn't want to focus, we put it up. She was reading on her own by about 3 1/2 years old.

Reading to a child will foster a desire to read. Once a child has the desire, it is easy to teach them.

Tracee - posted on 07/13/2010

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LOL Bravo!! I have been waiting for someone to point out the obvious!! Thanks :)

Jessica - posted on 07/11/2010

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I am also an Early Childhood Teacher, but find value in the Your Baby can Read program. There are times during the day that we can't give our children 100% of our attention and need something educational for our children to do. My daughter will be 3 in August and has had YBCR for almost a year. I did not follow the program guide, she does not watch it daily, at mot a few times a week. However she loves it and I love that it is interactive. I definitly could have made it myself, but sometimes we buy things out of convience. She has always loved books, so I do not give credit to YBCR for everything that she knows, but she is already reading simple sentence books and sight words. Her sentence length is an average of 8-9 words, something expected from a kindergartner and her grammar and tense are great. He doc says that she is way beyond her age level, with that being said, I think that YBCR was a vauluable investment so that she has something educational to do when I am busy!

Andrea - posted on 07/07/2010

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Thank you! I have seen these commercials as well and thought WHY???? As an early childhood special ed. teacher I know that there are so many vital things that your baby should be doing that involve movement, music, being read to, exploring, etc. that help them learn in a meaningful context and prepare them for so many life skills! A tiny tot being able to call out the correct word when shown a flash card is a parlor trick and I can't imagine that it correlates to later reading and reading comprehension skills!

Jamie - posted on 07/06/2010

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I totally agree. In kindergarten whe introduce students to their first set of "sight words" and the kids that struggle with word recognition are the students whose parents are only showing flash cards for memorization, if they are doing anything at all! I always tell parents to read a book with their child an point out the sight words that we've learned so they can associate the words with the words in a book. You will surprised how much a student can improve when a parent just reads a book to their child!

Meaghan - posted on 07/06/2010

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I have the Baby Can Read program and I read to my child every day. My little one LOVES the DVDs. She is 16 months old. She doesn't sit there and say "read" when it tells her, but she enjoys watching the DVDs. It gives me a chance to do something for 30 min. while she watches something educational. I still read to her every day and expose her to a lot of situations.

Michelle - posted on 07/05/2010

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I totally agree, not to mention the fact I am against sitting young children in front of the TV in the first place. The best way a child can learn is from the mom and dad or other caregivers, not a TV or compter or similar electronic situation.

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