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Can I Teach My Baby to Read?

Children typically learn to read in kindergarten and first grade in our current day and age, yet an increasingly popular program is pushing parents to help their babies and toddlers learn to read much earlier. The program features a combination of flashcards and television programming that shows a picture of the word, such as “CLAP” and then shows baby what “CLAP” means by actually clapping hands. After watching the programming and working a bit with mom or dad, baby starts to respond by actually clapping when he “reads” the word “CLAP.”

Whole Language Instruction
Of course, “CLAP” is just one of dozens of words your baby will learn by watching the names and pictures flash by on the screen. The goal is to show your baby the word and then show the baby what the word means. This will create a connection in the brain and the baby will in fact be able to read the word and know that “LION” means to roar out loud and “JUMP” means to jump off the ground.

The approach this program takes is one of basic memorization. In the English language there are certain words you just have to memorize in order to use properly. The infant reading programs just take the concept a step further. The program is training your baby to memorize the way a word looks and associate it with an activity or sound. This is commonly called Whole Word, or Read-Say instruction.

This approach is commonly used with English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and for children learning to read for the first time. By essentially memorizing words and their meanings, the child eventually learns to put it all together and make sense of short sentences moving on to moderate complexity as vocabulary grows. Infant and toddler reading programs start this process early by helping baby memorize words with an adjusted meaning. It is not clear, however, if the program helps children learn to read actual sentences or just roar out loud when the right card is flashed.

Phonics Instruction
Whole word instruction teaches children to memorize words. Phonics-based instruction works in the opposite way. In phonics, children are taught the sounds the letters make and how to build and deconstruct words. Phonics is the building blocks of words allowing children to work with unfamiliar words. With phonics instruction, vocabulary is still critically important as the child has to know what the word means after he’s sounded it out, of course.

Educational systems tend to float between phonics and whole word instruction, but most educators feel that long-term reading success comes from children knowing how to decode the words on the page as it is impossible to memorize ever word they might encounter.

Babies Reading
Programs that help your baby learn to read are giving his brain a workout in memorization. These reading programs are training your child as surely as you can by using special phrases and tones of voice. Babies love to learn and explore and if your baby is interested in playing with the cards and likes the images, by all means enjoy the program together. However forcing a baby or toddler to watch television to memorize words has not been shown to have a significant impact on actual reading versus memorization when he’s ready to read more than a single word.

When did you start leading to read? Record those memories with TotSites!


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