Year One – Post 21 | Can Babies Learn to Read?
I am so glad that my children will know how a child actually learns when they become parents – hopefully they won’t buy expensive programs that promise wonderful outcomes that aren’t true! Baby Einstein had to remove the word “educational” from its advertising after the Mayo Clinic’s research study determined that the product was not educational and that it may actually be detrimental to a child’s speech and language development. There are also programs out there that guarantee that your baby can learn to read at a very young age. Again, research has proven that these programs teach a baby to simply memorize words (that he doesn’t understand), as if he is a parrot. The baby isn’t actually reading. Yes, eventually the child may read if he isn’t so upset with being forced to sit in a highchair while mommy drills him to say the next word on the card. This is not a natural environment for a baby to learn. Some children will tolerate this task because they want to please their parents. It isn’t detrimental to a baby, but a parent shouldn’t feel that their child will be at an advantage if they use this program. Why? A baby has to have a meaningful vocabulary based on what he has experienced through the use of his senses in order to understand the words that are read to him, much less for him to “read.” A baby learns best by using his senses than he does watching a video. This means that the baby has to see, hear, feel, smell and taste an object to make it meaningful.
A baby’s vocabulary is very concrete. When a baby hears the word “dog,” he looks at a dog. If a baby hears the word “monkey,” but doesn’t see a monkey, he doesn’t have the concept of the word. He has no idea of what a monkey is. What good is the word to read, if you don’t understand what you are reading? Eventually your child will read because you are interacting with him by reading books and talking to him. This can be done with out spending a large sum of money. You can go to the library and get books for free, talk to your baby on a daily basis by narrating his day, and make him feel good about reading a book while cuddling as you read his bedtime story. A child’s sound development doesn’t mature until age eight, and there is a lot more to reading than memorization. When you read My Baby Compass, Two to Four and Four to Seven, you will have a better understanding of how your child learns to read.
– Kathryn Thorson Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP, author of My Baby Compass series