Thursday, October 15, 2009

My baby can't read

My baby can't read. And I am okay with that. I am more than okay with that, I am seriously happy with that fact.

I turn on the tv and see ads about how I can teach my baby to read. And there are two year olds reading words off of flashcards. And 6 year olds reading novels that I read in middle school. I read a magazine article today that talked extensively about one reading program and why people are teaching their kids to read and earlier and earlier ages. Apparently children really can learn to read at age 3.

My children cannot read. I am not teaching them to read. I have no need for my three year old to read on her own.

Please understand that if Madeline walked up to me and said "mommy teach me how to read this word" I would teach her. And if she wanted to learn more words I would teach her. But I am NOT sitting her down with flashcards and having her "read" them for me.

Of course my child is just learning her ABCs so reading is quite a ways off.

I went to college to learn how to teach. I spent a lot of time learning about how to teach reading. And then I spent four years teaching first graders how to read.
Flashcards are not the best way to teach. They are a necessity at times. But they are simply words. When you read you do two things. You decode (sounds out words) and you comprehend (make meaning from print). So if I teach my class six words on flashcards, are they really "reading?" And if I teach them how to sound things out but never teach them what the word means are the reading?

And I learned something while in college that I have seen time and time again- some children are wonderful at memorizing. So if I show my baby a card often enough, and tell her often enough what that word is, eventually she will "know" the word. But the if child sees the word in other places can they still read it? ONe wonderful pre reading skill is for a child to "read" a book that mom and dad have read to them so many times that they have memorized it. That is a great step in knowing that there are words on a page, we read words and those words have meaning. But it is not reading- decoding and comprehending.

I have not learned enough about the seperate programs to evaluate them individually. But will someone please tell me why I the great state of MA said that I had to go to school and earn two degrees to teach reading in a classroom if it is so easy a parent can order some books, flashcards and videos and do it in their own home.

And honestly, does your 18 month old really need to read? I know we want the best for our children. But is it better to sit them in a chair and show them flashcard after flashcard or is it better to sit on the floor and play with them? I want my children to build their vocabularies, be curious learners. enjoy books and really love reading when they are able. I fail to see how teaching my baby to read can help my child be a better learner. I read today that it takes almost twice as long to teach a 3 or 4 year old to read now words than it does a 5 or 6 year old. And there are no studies that I have found that show that the earlier reader is that much better off.
In today's world we are so focused on how early we can teach our children academics. There is so much more to learn and children learn through play at younger ages. There is so much we can teach them while playing with them- vocabularies can grow, social skills are learned, science and math concepts are taught and even pre reading skills are learned. All through play.

So my baby can't read. If my children grow up and are mad that they didn't learn to read at age 2 and that is the worst of their complaints than I did an okay job.

Sorry for the long post, Jon gets sick of listening to me complain about these programs (he agrees with my feelings, just gets tired of hearing my rant about them)

1 comment:

KT said...

Stopped by for FMM and this post caught my eye. I am a teacher (I taught first grade too!) and I agree that there is no need to rush babies into "learning" those skills. You are right to point out that comprehension is a significant part of reading. Of course it's fun and excellent to play education games/activities with young children and to read stories to them and enjoy books with them, but babies reading independently??? c'mon! But the sad thing is that people are duped by those "education" programs all the time and are convinced that they are creating geniuses....