Sunday, June 6, 2010

Your Baby Can Read! ...or can he?

I recently had a reader ask me if I had any views on the program called "Your Baby Can Read!" This was a hard post for me to write because I don't actually have any experience with the program myself. I've heard just as many people tell me that it's amazing as I've heard tell me that it's a scam. I don't think that the program is a scam but I can't definitely say that it will teach your child to read either. I know, it's rather non-committal of me but I really do take a middle ground when it comes to "Your Baby Can Read". It's not something I would personally spend my money on but I don't think that parent's who use it are wrong.

Let's go over the program together and you can decide for yourself if it might be a good option for your child.

How Does It Work?
From what I understand, YBCR works by teaching your child to recognize the shape of a word, essentially memorizing it so when they see it again they can identify it and "read" it. For example, if you show a child the word "dog" while you verbalize the word "dog" the child will begin to associate the shape of the word with "dog". 

It's very similar to a baby learning what a bottle is - she learns to recognize the shape of it and she learns that the word for it is "bottle" because you say the word to her as you are giving it to her. If you wanted to, you could teach your baby that the word for her bottle is "cookie" simply by saying "cookie" every time you show her the bottle. YBCR uses this same principal to teach kids to associate a verbal word for the one written on the page.

Will it Really Teach My Baby To Read?
In a way, yes. As I said, the program teaches a child to recognize the shapes of different words. As adults, most of the words we read on a daily basis are words that we have memorized. As you read this post you aren't sounding out each word, are you? You see a word and you don't even really have to think about what you are seeing, your brain just provides the right information for you.

But, what happens when you come across a word that you've never seen before? You sound it out, right? The YBCR program does not teach a child phonics, such as the letter D makes the "duh" sound. So, a child taught solely using YBCR would not be able to sound out an unfamiliar word.

Technically, if you wanted to, you could teach your baby that the letters d-o-g stand for the word "cookie" when placed next to each other. If you showed your baby a flashcard with the word dog and said the word "cookie", they would learn to associate the letters d-o-g as "cookie". Since the baby doesn't know that the letter D make the "duh" sound they won't know that it's impossible for the letters d-o-g to spell "cookie".

 So... Should I Use This Program?
I really believe that is a personal decision for parents to make for themselves. I know there is a lot of information about how to make your child do better in school and I know that there is a lot of pressure on parents to do everything they can to ensure their child's success. It's not always easy to know what will be best for an individual child and as a mother I know there can be a lot of guilt involved if you elect not to do something that may help your child down the road. However, I do not plan to use this program with my daughter and I don't feel any guilt about that decision.

If you do decide to use "Your Baby Can Read" I would recommended keeping the following tips in mind:
  • As your child gets older and his comprehension increases, be sure to introduce him to phonics. It's important for a child to know the individual letters of the alphabet and which sounds each letter makes. Most studies show that children begin recognizing letters around the age of 2 so that would be a good time to introduce the alphabet - although you can do it sooner, my daughter loves her Alligator Alphabet book!
  • Do not spend so much time focusing on using the YBCR program that you forget to play and have fun with your child. Too much structured learning time is not good for a baby who really is learning just by playing. Also, putting too much stress on teaching a child to read could have a negative effect - making the child dislike reading and learning. Keep it fun!
  • Watch the videos with your child. Don't just plop him in front of the TV and leave. Learning should be interactive.
This is in no way a review of the "Your Baby Can Read!" program, as previously stated, I don't have any personal experience with it. This is merely my opinions based on what I have read/heard and what I know about how children learn to read.

Do you have experience with "Your Baby Can Read"?
I would love to hear opinions from other people! Have you used this with your child? What did you think of it? Do you plan to use it? Do you have a friend or family member that has used it? What did they think? Please leave a comment and let me know your opinions!

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