Faults found in "Your Baby Can Read" Program

Sara - posted on 11/02/2010 ( 69 moms have responded )

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Yeah, no shit. But I think this is an interesting article all the same.




Ginger Torres was fascinated by the television commercials featuring babies, some as young as 3 months old, reading. Not just words but phrases, like “Touch your ears.”

The ads boasted that the remarkable achievement was made possible by “Your Baby Can Read,” a program which promised that with the use of flash cards, DVDs, pop-up books and some quality time between parent and child, almost any preschooler could learn to read before they even entered kindergarten.

Ginger Torres wanted that for her 3-year-old daughter, Chloe, so she bought the kit. It was a decision she would come to regret.

"The reason I wanted to buy it is to give her a head start before school,” Torres said. “[But] what you’re getting is not really what they say.”

Reading or memorization?
TODAY wanted to find out if the claims were true, so child development experts from the nation’s most prestigious institutions of learning were contacted as part of an investigation of the “Your Baby Can Read” program.

Are those babies really reading?

“No,” said Dr. Nonie Lesaux, a child development expert at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. “They memorize what’s on those cue cards … It’s not reading.”

“It’s an extraordinary manipulation of facts,” said Dr. Maryanne Wolf, director of Cognitive Neuroscience at Tufts University.

From coast to coast, TODAY found 10 experts who were all of the same basic opinion: Young children can be made to recognize or memorize words, but the brains of infants and toddlers are just not developed enough to actually learn to read at the level the way the enticing television ads claim they can.

There are some remarkable exceptions, like the toddler who surprised Ann Curry on TODAY in 2008 when Curry pulled out a cue card with a word the child had never seen before. She successfully mouthed the word “kangaroo,” but experts say the vast majority of children cannot be taught to read until their brains are developed enough.

The problem with programs like “Your Baby Can Read,” the experts TODAY contacted say, is that they promise such results routinely, raising hopes that will only be dashed.

“I think it’s misleading. I think it’s false, and I think it raises false expectations,” said Dr. Karen Hopkins, a developmental pediatrician at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

Asked about the experts’ collective opinion that children cannot really learn to read until they are 4 or 5 years old, the creator of “Your Baby Can Read” offered a simple explanation.

“They’re all wrong,” said Dr. Robert Titzer, who calls himself an infant learning expert but actually holds a graduate degree in “human performance” — the study of motor skills.

Titzer told TODAY his program is backed by scientific research. He acknowledged that it starts with memorization, but insisted it leads to reading.

“We have a book full of studies that support the use of our program,” Titzer said, agreeing to provide the research.

But instead of published research on “Your Baby Can Read,” Titzer sent TODAY his own customer satisfaction surveys and general studies about child learning.

“The baby does learn to read,” he said. “My children could read better at age 4 than I could at age, you know, at my age.”

Titzer would not disclose how much money he’s made off his program, but the company says more than a million “Your Baby Can Read” kits have been sold — some for as much as $200 in stores and online.

Ginger Torres got her money back after complaining to the company, but believes the program is still cashing in on false promises.

“I was very upset because I felt so misled,” Torres said.

The experts say the best way to teach your children reading skills is the time-honored one that doesn’t cost a dime.

Read to them. Talk to them. Play with them. If a child is having fun, he or she will learn.

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Cassie - posted on 11/02/2010

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I can say that as a reading teacher of elementary students, the number one issue that students have today is a lack of comprehension.

This program develops "reading" through rote memorization but ignores the fundamentals of reading that are necessary for overall reading success and enjoyment. Without being able to comprehend what they are learning, they are not able to fully understand and enjoy what they are reading. If they don't enjoy it, they will most likely struggle.

I agree with the others who have said that this program is typically used by parents who just want to be able to brag about their child's "intelligence" or by parents who simply do not understand the importance of the fundamentals of reading when children are developmentally ready.

Jackie - posted on 11/02/2010

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I always know it was a crock! Honestly, even if it DID work, i wouldn't want it for my daughter.Can't we just let babies BE babies.

[deleted account]

I dislike the whole 'Your Baby Can Read' thing. It is nothing more than a money making gimmick whether it works or not. Who cares if your BABY can read for $200 when you can teach your CHILD to read for free?!

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[deleted account]

Chrystal, it can actually be detrimental to your child actually learning to read later on. I'm curious if you've read through all the comments? When your child is taught a certain way very early on it can complicate things for them once they ACTUALLY learn to read and they could in fact, end up being behind the other children. Teaching them to memorize is teaching them bad habits early on and those habits will be hard to break.



Am I explaining this correctly? Anyone?

Chrystal - posted on 11/05/2010

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I have the My Baby Can Read program. But me and husband bought it w/ the intent that we knew it was more memorization than anything. We do have common sense so we know that kids and babies can't read at the age of 2. I think it's a great learning tool to help your kids to memorize words which will be great when they do start learning to read at age 4 and 5 because they will recognize words in books and the words that they don't recognize, parents will have to help them out and help sound them out, and help motion the words out just like you are doing w/ the my baby can read. So maybe they shoudn't have called it My baby can Read maybe they should've called it My baby can memorize. But either way it's still a good learning tool, and again have a little common sense when it comes to things like this.

[deleted account]

OMFG! Sharon, you're bloody hilarious and someone needs to change their fan belt. I'm sitting in my family room on the laptop and I thought someone lit a firecracker - I can still hear it squeeling down the road.



Random



Good morning! FIX THE BLOODY GLITCHES!

[deleted account]

Sharon, just call me Say-ra. That's how all my relatives over age 60 pronounce it. Does that explain it?

[deleted account]

One post gets a 'click' for lame and unintelligible (hey, can COM add those when they fix the glitch...). All posts after get a click for funny!

Sharon - posted on 11/03/2010

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Carol - Thank you! Thank you!

Sara - oh hunny I feel for you. Can I offer you a pabst light? LMFAO.

[deleted account]

Sharon, your hick speak was easier for me to read and understand than the teen speak....interesting.

Johnny - posted on 11/03/2010

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*Marks Cassie & Sharon as funny* and asks COM to get the hell on with fixing this glitch!

Sharon - posted on 11/03/2010

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I think I'll conduct all my future posts in "hick" speak.

naw fer shure dem dere peepoles has a raight to gived dere chillun and edchumacation doo too video progression. dis here be dah future fer all are chilluns.

Mandy - posted on 11/03/2010

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u all have 2 remember that baby educational dvds r 4 entertainment purposes. 2 keep baby occupied while u do something or 4 u 2 send time with baby. yes it works wit some babies however every baby is different. i bought a couple dvds 4 my daughter & she luvs it. but at d end of d day u as a mother (father too) have 2 teach baby to read, write & speak

September - posted on 11/03/2010

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I recently talked to my MIL about this who is a 1st grade teacher (an awesome one I have to add) and she say's the program actually hinders the ability to truly grasp the concept of reading when they are old enough to read. This program teaches memorization only and there's more to learning to read than memorization.

[deleted account]

Good for him Kelly! :)

I agree w/ Cassie about the reading comprehension part. My girls started reading at 3.5 because the oldest girl (just turned 5) in their preschool learned how and they wanted to as well.... and they could. It took them a while to be able to read w/out sounding out each letter, but they did it because THEY wanted too. But their comprehension abilities took a couple more years to catch up to their reading ability. They love to read and in the 4th grade it's one of the few non-physical activities that they do for fun, but I still think their comprehension level is a bit under their reading level....

[deleted account]

Yes Dana, I would have taken him home with me if I could. That's not even the half of his story.

Jaime I would argue that learning is not memorization. I'm going to use math because it's the easier to explain than reading. You can teach students addition facts and never be able to teach them all the addition facts in the world because numbers are infinite. There would be a limit somewhere on what numbers a person could add by memorization. But if you teach the concept, what addition means, and how to figure it out, they can add any and every number with no limit.

[deleted account]

Sara, that story was sad and sweeeet all at the same time.

"Wow Kathy. Maybe I am just very sheltered, but I am yet to meet a child who doesn't know what to do with a book. That is really sad." ~ Jodi A. said in response to Kathy's comment.

I was thinking the EXACT same thing. How awful!

[deleted account]

These programs worry me, it worries me how many people fall for the advertising and actually think their child will be able to read! It also worries me how many people are so keen for their children to skip over the basics needed to learn and want to skim over them being babies so they can do things that children can.

My son 'reads' his books by himself he turns the pages and looks at each one then moves to the next, when he actually wants a story read he brings me the book and we read it together, he is learning the basics now at 1 year old and we will continue to build on them until he can read the words. That to me is enough I don't need the bragging rights of my son can read because my son is brilliant how he is!

Charlie - posted on 11/02/2010

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Well i could read at 4 years old all because my father read a lot of books to me as a child .

[deleted account]

I could read before I went to kindergarten. I never went to preschool, either. My great grandma taught me how to read by reading books to me every night and showing me each word as she said it. I didn't learn my alphabet until I got into kindergarten, but I knew how to read. Yes, it's pretty backwards, but I ended up fine.

All learning begins with memorization, in my opinion. You memorize a word and its meaning, and you memorize how it should be used in context. The process eventually becomes subconscious, and then it's considered learning instead of memorizing. But you're still subconsciously memorizing everything.

I don't have any proof of that except through my own ideas and experience. It also seems like a logical explanation to me.

I don't see the point in teaching a baby who can't talk how to read, though. How is he or she going to put his or her new skills to the test if he or she can't say the words out loud?

Sharon - posted on 11/02/2010

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When my oldest was born, the "Your baby can read" program was fairly new - at least to me. The only references I could find for it though were other parents. Of course if there was a parent who hated teh program the sales people didn't tell you. I refused to put a chunk of money into something that didn't disclose the full truth.

So the facts are ...

...we never used that program. All three of my kids test WELL ahead of their peers.

For my oldest I bought all these flash cards. We'd go to the zoo and I'd take the relevant cards (matching animals & numbers) and as we paused in front of each enclosure we'd pull out the appropriate cards. tiger and the number 2 , stuff like that.

He was ahead of his classmates. he knew more animals than any other kid, used the proper names (a chicken was a chicken, not a "bawk bawk" or a bird) But by grade 3 because I had quit lavishing attention on him and quit shoving information down his throat - his peers had caught up.

My younger two kids, hahahaha I didn't have that kind of time any more. And yet because we read or at least I did. They too started out ahead of their classmates.

Now how about this? My mother barely spoke american when I was born. My dad worked full time and was frequently away due to his job. But I've been reading since I was 3. I distinctly remember shocking my parents. They had no idea I had learned how to read. We were driving along and I read a bill board. I remember being pleased that I recognised the words. The rest of the way home I read every billboard and sign we passed.

We had TONS of kids books. My mom was working on her american by reading "the pokey little puppy" and the disney collection, etc. She read, I followed.

I read to my brother. We're just a family of readers.

There wasn't any stupid $$$ reading "system". There was just parent & child + repetition.

But what I find really amusing - is how the playing leveled out by grade 3.

So go ahead and blow tons of money on these "systems". Someone else gets rich and you think you've done a good thing. YAY!!!

[deleted account]

Jodi, come spend a day in a public school kindergarten around here. =(

Not necessarily in my town, but in the city it's pretty bad. In the third grade class I student taught in, I was talking to a boy who couldn't read, literally. I asked him if he had books at home and the answer was no. We worked one on one for a while (the advantage of being a student teacher!) and at the end of the year he told me that he got a "job" helping his grandma. When he got his first dollar he was going to the dollar store to buy a book. Breaks my heart.

Jodi - posted on 11/02/2010

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"When my daughter started kindergarten, her teacher told me she could always tell the kids who were not going to enjoy reading - they were the ones who didn't know what to do with a book when you put it in front of them - didn't even know how to turn a page!"

Wow Kathy. Maybe I am just very sheltered, but I am yet to meet a child who doesn't know what to do with a book. That is really sad.

But then, a girl in my daughter's class still doesn't know all of her alphabet, and certainly doesn't know many of the sounds, and they are now in the final 8 weeks of their first school year. She isn't special needs, she may have a learning difficulty, but I have spent some time working with her the last few weeks, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that no-one at home gives a shit, so she has never been exposed to books like my daughter who reads (and was always read to) every day.

[deleted account]

I could read before I went to school and so could all my siblings. And I'm 56 -this was well before all those trendy "your baby can ready" programs. And why could I read? We always had books in the house. My parents weren't particularlt educated, but they loved books, magazines and newspapers. They took us to the library. We went for walks and talked about the flowers, animals etc. They talked to us about everything! They read books to us and told stories. Books were fun, not chores.

When my daughter started kindergarten, her teacher told me she could always tell the kids who were not going to enjoy reading - they were the ones who didn't know what to do with a book when you put it in front of them - didn't even know how to turn a page!

In my experience, life helps kids to enjoy reading!

[deleted account]

OK, I am going to brag on my child. I don't do it often, because I hate those "one up" mommies and this sort of makes me one. I will start with the fact that my son met every single milestone (except walking) very late, some even after the "normal range" expired.

My son turned 6 yrs old on Sunday. He started Kindergarten this past August, and this is the first time he has ever been in a "school setting." They did reading evaluations last month and he is reading on 3rd grade level. He reads large print chapter books with occasional pictures (like a picture on the first page of a new chapter) and he comprehends on a 3rd grade level as well. He is being pulled out of kindy for reading and sent to a 3rd grade "Challenge" class, which is a pull out program, so while he is the only kindergardener, they are all pulled from their regular class so he doesn't stand too far out.

I never used "my baby can read" or any of those freakishly expensive programs to teach him. He started asking me about words when he was not yet 2 yrs old by pointing to the titles of books and saying "what word, mommy?" I would tell him the word and sometimes he'd go away, but sometimes he'd ask "Why?" so I started telling him about letter sounds. By the time he was 2 1/2 he was begging me to teach him to read.
I did eventually buy a $12 book at Barnes&Noble that was based on phonics and taught comprehension through stories that we read together. It did not really teach him to read, but it taught me how to teach him to read--really read, not just memorize letters and sounds, but actually figure out words on his own and comprehend stories. He was reading full sentences before he was 3yrs, and writing stories (spelled phonetically, but with distinct beginning, middle and ending) by the time he was 4 yrs.

I am very proud of my son's reading, I feel like he is proof that young kids can learn to read without silly TV programs teaching them. Parents can teach them more than a TV 100% of the time. I will also add that my son learned to read because HE was ready. Why teach them before that? It will only hurt them in the long run by putting a negative spin on reading--making it a chore instead of a passtime. Of course, if they are curious before the "normal" age for reading, I say jump on it and start teaching! But do the teaching yourself, don't let a TV teach your kid.

Johnny - posted on 11/02/2010

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It's funny. I can read through that paragraph like I'm reading a normally written sentence. My husband, who is dyslexic can not comprehend it at all. Perhaps I'm the one with the problem, lol.



As for "My Baby Can Read", I don't understand the point of spending a whole wack of money to purchase a program that at best does what you or books or educational television might do and at worst may stunt their reading development?

Kate CP - posted on 11/02/2010

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Okay, I had a seriously hard time reading that paragraph about Cambridge...damn you, dyslexia! :P

Charlie - posted on 11/02/2010

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Most people know how i feel about baby can read , i hate it !

Yes for all the reasons like teaching them memorization and having to teach them how to read later in life BUT my biggest issue is this A BABY/TODDLER should be learning naturally through stories and play , THE MOST important part of development is play , play is vital for a young child to develop all areas from cognitive , creative to motor skills ect and reading is a part of the natural progression of learning .

I really wish parents would just let their children BE children and develop at their own pace the way a child is meant to learn , read to them daily , communicate and it will all come together .

Jodi - posted on 11/02/2010

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http://www.righttrackreading.com/directp...

Another interesting article outlining the neurological consequences of certain reading methods.

I still can't find the other one I was looking for, I can't remember what search criteria I used, but it was something to do with neurological development and the neural pathways, etc......

I guess it works the same as writing vs. typing. There is also research to show that very young children who spend too much using computers and video games struggle with their handwriting, because it is a totally different part of the brain that develops in learning these different skills. Once you set certain neural pathways it is very difficult to undo.

[deleted account]

Me too! Dana I'll just say, "funny."

By the way Cassie, I marked yours as "helpful" it just didn't show. I taught fourth grade reading, so I'm not an expert on early childhood reading (as in first learning to read), though I do know a little about it! Your info is what I was alluding to in my first post.

[deleted account]

Arocdnicg to rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm. Tihs is buseace the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

[deleted account]

Here's the paragraph Dana :)

"Arocdnicg to rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm. Tihs is buseace the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

I've seen those things before, paragraphs like that. And it always freaks me out that I can read them with no problem lol

Eliz - posted on 11/02/2010

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Don't get me wrong ladies. A lot of parents use the "Baby Can Read" as a cop out of actually teaching their children and for a way to brag. Remember that I said I don't use the program as it is "supposed" to be used. I use it as an educational alternative to regular TV programs. It entertains him plus he only watches it now and again. My son learns most things from interacting with people. He loves to look at books and is very interested in the words. I do teach him phonics as I sound out things for him and show him how to sound them out. Its a good program if you don't rely solely on it. We don't have ZOOs where I live so the videos and books having many animals in them has helped him learn his animals. I also have a video all about airplanes that he watches once in a while and that boy can point out an airplane in the sky before anyone else sees it. We all brag about our babies and the things they can do and what they learn. I'm just saying I don't think the "Your Baby Can Read" program is a bad thing. You just can't rely on it solely. You have to use all sorts of ways to teach them. It's just one piece of the puzzle. As far as just playing with your toddlers, I play with him in the way he likes best and that is to teach as we play. If he doesn't want to look at words we don't look at words. I never force learning on him but he does enjoy it.

[deleted account]

Huh? What paragraph? Why didn't I see a paragraph? I read the article but didn't see a paragraph with mumbojumbo? I want to see a paragraph. I'ma go look for that paragraph.

;)

Rosie - posted on 11/02/2010

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jodi, thats interesting about the part in the link that says you only need the first and last letters, and mumbo jumbo inbetween and you can still read it good. i thought for sure since i can't read text speak that wasn't true, but as i was reading it i had no problems reading that paragraph. weird.

Cassie - posted on 11/02/2010

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At least I'll have plenty of students if parents keep using this since I teach reading to students who struggle... :S

just kidding (sort of) lol

[deleted account]

I completely agree, Cassie. I think this program can actually be damaging. They're not learning for long term success and these children using the program could very well find themselves behind the class once the reach the elementary level because they'll have developed bad habits.

Not good!

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