I am sure most, if not all, of you mothers have heard of the Your Baby Can Read videos and books. And most of you have some sort of opinion about it whether it is positive, negative, or indifferent. Some of you may even have a cousin or a friend who has used it and their 2-year-old now reads chapter books (or so they say).
Well, this is my story. I love Your Baby Can Read for my daughter. I started using the DVD’s with my daughter when she was 6 months old. Like most mothers, I did not want my daughter watching mindless meaningless television. I heard about these videos that are designed for babies and designed to encourage interaction. These videos not only were interactive, but they actually exposed my child to animals and objects that she might not have seen before. Therefore, it provided her exposure that we working moms sometimes forget is important. Not to mention that the videos gave my daughter early learning opportunities while I was at work.
Along with Your Baby Can Read, I also read books to her all the time. At first I did not even realize that she was truly learning until she was eight months old and read her first word — “ball”. Shortly after that, she said and read more words and over the next couple of months she really began to be verbal and use sign language.
When I first began using the videos my thoughts were if she does not learn a single word it was still money well-spent. I mean she loved watching the videos and dancing to the songs. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she learned over 100 sight words using these tools and at 3 years old she is now able to read simple sentences with the sight words (sentences such as “Wave your hand”).
I always thought it was funny to hear some of the negative feedback that people who never tried it would say. While at the same time still being in awe with my daughter when she would randomly read a word while out shopping or reading books. People would say, “They are not learning to read; they are just memorizing.” Yes, they are technically memorizing, but that is what any child does with sight words. When children enter Pre-K, they are given a list of sight words they must learn (“and”, “a”, “red” are just a few words on that list). How are they learning these words? By memorizing!
Some say if the child is not able to sound out a word and understand its meaning then it is not reading. Well, with sight words you are not following the same principles of phonics; therefore, you are not sounding them out. They are learned by sight or, in my book, memorized.
I have also heard that you should not teach your child phonics before the the age of four because by the time they reach 4 they will have forgotten the sounds each letter makes. Well, I disagree with that one because my daughter has not forgotten and she knows all of the letters and their sounds.
Most of these objections I have heard during training for early childhood language and literacy and I am, by far, not an expert, but I know what works for me and my child. I do not know if Your Baby Can Read will have any impact on my child’s reading by the time she is in third grade, but I do know that with my constant teaching and guidance she will be a great reader, and hopefully she will continue to love to read.