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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Should babies learn to read?



Mom_babiesreadingIt’s 4 a.m., and I’m awake. I turn on the television and there it is: a product that claims to help babies pronounce words and toddlers read complete sentences.

I am transfixed. Yes, I am one of those suckers who orders things from infomercials. I’ve got a set of videos featuring Carlton Sheets, who promised to teach me how to become a real estate mogul with no money down. Didn’t work. I ordered Windsor Pilates DVDs and the Chuck Norris workout gym, which I later sold at a yard sale. I also bought Turbo Jam DVDs from a thin, chipper woman who promised to help me get beach body slim slim. That one actually worked, and improbably -– given my track record -- I’m still using the videos.

And now, the madness continues with Your Baby Can Read. I must admit that the 17-month-old Texas tot on the Today show who could read tripped me out the first time I saw her. I railed at the television, yelling that kids that small should just play and not worry about reading and that pushing any kid too hard can lead to failure.

But now that I’m a mom of a rapidly developing 10 month old, it doesn’t seem so strange. After all, the person with the wisdom-filled voice on the infomercial says young children find reading fun and exciting. They claim babies are most apt to pick up languages and reading skills before they reach age 5.

Most doctors and reading specialists universally agree that parents should be reading to babies as much as possible as early as possible. Even critics of these types of miracle-working programs give the reading DVDs the thumbs up.

In theory, I already know the benefits of learning language early. I’m committed to reading to my daughter on a regular basis. We’ve also tried sign language. But so far, there’s no apparent traction. I’ve pledged to make sure my daughter learns to speak Spanish while she’s a wee one. But I’d planned to let her spend a few hours a week with Spanish speakers, not shell out $200 for a DVD and flash card-set that focuses on English. Will my girl watch those DVDs? Will the flashcards seem like punishment? Maybe she’ll like it. And if she doesn’t, we can always shelve it and try again later.

So, should I or shouldn’t I? Hurry up. I need an answer before the offer for a $14.95 30-day trial that is over at the end of the infomercial.

-- Sherri Day

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:58am]


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