Thursday, December 30, 2010

Your baby can read. Really?

Recently my children have started watching a new channel on television called the Hub. It's a family channel with preschool type shows during the day and older sitcoms during the evenings. The cartoons aren't too obnoxious so I can't really complain too much about it. There is one thing that kind of bugs me about it though. The commercials. I guess I've grown used to Noggin which is commercial free so this world of commercials takes some getting used to. For the most part it's not too bad. I thought the kids would drive me nuts asking for toys they see advertised but so far they haven't. There is one commercial on there however that makes me want to run screaming from the room everytime it comes on. It's the one for Your Baby Can Read. That's right your baby. As in small child under one year old. Reading. Am I crazy or is this really something parents want for their babies? I mean whatever happened to getting excited over things like the first word or first step? Is that not a big enough milestone anymore? Not only that but how in the world are parents supposed to talk about things in front of the children if they can read? You obviously won't be able to spell things out anymore, might as well just tell them what they're getting for their birthday. Or am I the only one that does that kind of thing? 
There are just so many things that I think are wrong with this program I don't even know where to begin. But I'll try. 
  • Teaching by Rote. In other words memorizing without actually learning. You know like those little things called phonics.
  • The price. Sure the commercial will tell you that you can try it for $14.95, but to purchase the entire set will knock you back over $200. 
  • Studies have shown that children that begin reading early are no more advanced than children that begin reading once they are in school.
  • You have to plop your baby in front of the television twice a day to watch the video. Everyday. 
  • Two words. Baby Einstein. 
So feel free to call my a cynic, but I think this product is just another way to make money off of new parents that are nervous about not doing enough for their children. Trust me when I say you do not need this. Just spend some time with your baby and read to them for enjoyment, not in an attempt to create the next Einstein. 

4 comments:

Leslie said...

OH girl! I totally agree. That is so nuts. I just don't see the reason for it...kinda like a friend that pushed her kiddo so he gradated at 15. Why? So he could be a social reject at college at 15? Good call there mom ;) Sorry...maybe that should have a post of its own - haha. Really though, let kids be kids. *sigh*

Larry said...

Well, I let my kid be a kid, he's just a kid who happens to be able to read...

I wrote down the how and why, for folks like you who don't know much about this program (and similar methods), here: http://www.larrysanger.org/reading.html

All the things you've listed are addressed in that essay. This isn't speculation for us. We used the program over two years ago and are now experiencing the results. But to give you brief responses to your comments:

1. "Teaching by rote": babies learn by rote, true, but many babies can read brand new words before their second birthday, and some parents report not needing to use any phonics system. We, however, were different because we used a combination of YBCR, phonics flashcards I made, and lots of good old-fashioned reading-to-the-kid. Since we started at 22months, we could do phonics right from the start.

2. We never paid $200. That's for the whole package. You don't have to buy the whole package, and you can get stuff used much more cheaply.

3. Re "studies": nonsense. There are no such studies. I've looked. In fact, most studies of precocious readers (those who can read when entering kindergarten) are still outperforming their peers in 3rd and 6th grades.

4. Naw, you don't have to plop the kids in front of the tube twice a day. We did it once a day, and not every day.

5. YBCR is decidedly not Baby Einstein. If you think so, you clearly haven't seen YBCR. Besides, nobody ever claimed for Baby Einstein that it would make readers out of kids.

It's not merely a money-grab. It costs money, and people pay for it, because it actually works.

Melissa The SubStandard Parent said...

Wow Larry. You are such a great parent and your kid is SO much smarter and better than the other kids.

Happy now?

Larry said...

Melissa, I'm not bragging. I wouldn't start programs like "Your Baby Can Read" in order to be able to brag, but to benefit my little boy. I don't care--much--about where my kid is relative to other kids. He's ahead in some skills, and probably lags in others. That's all fine and natural; people differ, including little people. My point is simply to give folks information that they didn't have before.