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Author Topic: BrillKids Blog - Common Criticisms of Teaching Babies To Read (UPDATED)  (Read 152355 times)
The Architect
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« on: January 26, 2011, 04:01:20 PM »

Hi all!

Announcing.... our new BrillKids Blog!

It's been something we've wanted to do for a while, and finally here it is!

To kick things off, I just posted an article entitled "Common Criticisms of Teaching Babies To Read".  I'm sure many of you will have heard similar criticisms, so you might be interested in reading my responses to them.

Please take a look, and please leave a comment in the Comments section!  If you like it, please also click on the Facebook "Like" icon!

Oh, and do subscribe to it to be notified of new blog posts!



Edit - Added an update - see further below.

« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 07:18:50 AM by KL » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2011, 05:32:05 PM »

Great start, KL! I look forward to seeing more!


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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2011, 09:22:00 PM »

Very nicely done. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more.  yes


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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2011, 09:42:15 PM »

Sometimes i feel that people doesnt understand the capability of the kid and they think that kid cant do this, that etc. but i beleive kids are more smart and intelligent than a adult.

So we should not bother about what other people are saying.....


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« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2011, 10:01:20 PM »

I’ve had some more thoughts on the important points that DadDude brought up in the Defense section of his essay, but since they also fit under this new section I’ll post them here.

Different cultures are different I’m sure.  Some cultures or communities may value as much instructional/educational time as possible, whereas other communities may value creative play.  Websites from private schools in my community claim to promote: academic excellent, of course, by also,  imagination, creativity, critical thinking, compassion, enthusiasm, ability to think for yourself, love of learning, mutual respect, environmental awareness and responsibility, individual accountability with a social framework, cause students to realize their responsibility to community.  I think these values and skills are deeply rooted and legitimate in many communities.  Anecdotally, there are countries where the kids at McDonalds are all studying, and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, just that my community has different values/priorities etc.

Communities that place a high value on imagination and creative play may be turned off by videos of babies strapped in highchairs reading flashcards.  Also there is a stereotype of very early readers as pale, thin, with poor eyesight – seriously!   My own feeling is that early reading and development of imagination and creativity, critical thinking, physical heath etc etc are not mutually exclusive.  However, for communities like my own, I think very early reading needs a complete image makeover.

I think YBCR did show some video of Aleka on monkey bars, but this could be expanded.  I’m not a reading specialist or marketing specialist or philosopher etc I’m just a mom, but if I was designing an info commercial targeting communities similar to my own, I’d show some early reading in say an outside context with “robust, healthy” kids.  I remember when I was planting seeds in the dirt with my kids outside and Amelia was 13 or 14 months and was saying dirt and kept signing book and after a bit of confusion, I realized she wanted me to write the word dirt on the sidewalk with the sidewalk chalk.  This really happened and it has such a great “planting the seeds” metaphor, as well as child directed and creative aspects. I also write words in wet sand at the beach, could be in the mud or snow.  And my kids really do bring books over to their tree house sometimes – cue cello sonata – child reading Winnie-the-pooh to his stuffed bear in treehouse –  camera pans to bees or rabbit. Presented properly, early reading could fit perfectly with a romantic and nostalgic view of childhood, such as that evocated by Winnie-the-pooh (and what with the new movie coming out soon this would be perfect timing). 

And this doesn’t have to be fabricated.  What about kids reading recipe while messily making cookies.  Showing activities that are child directed, showing the child understands at least some of the material, creative activities?  Children picking out their own books at the public library? Child and parent making a book together, child telling a story and helping illustrate while parent helps write text and then the child reading story.  Or child and parent doing a simple science experiment and working together to record observations, child probably illustrating and parent writing what the child observes and then child reading results.  Say kids at park arranging their bodies into the word “Hi” on the ground and kids up on a play structure looking down reading the word?  Parent writing “ I love you” with alphabet soup letters. Most of these activities would involve somewhat older kids, but a lot of parents have seen little babies recognizing words and it might be helpful to show some slightly longer-term results, within an imaginative, creative, child directed, social context.  Also, at least for my family, these types of activities are totally compatible with also using YBCR, LR, ppt etc, so I don’t think it would be misleading for an early reading program to show other reading activities or results of having used an early reading program. 


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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2011, 05:18:32 AM »

That "they have to be time to be kids" thing just makes me crazy.  We spend less than 15 minutes per day on flash cards.  Maybe another 15 to 30 actually reading stories.  How many hours does that leave for unstructured play?  At 25 month my daughter can read through several of her simple books (one sentence per page) and it reading lots of words and some sentences out of her Seuss books.

I know that I learned to read before I was 3 and I remember very little studying.  (All I can remember is doing exercises from the Hay and Wingo phonics book. I do remember playing a lot though.

It took me a while as an adult to learn this rule though: "Play is a child's work."  If they are having fun they will learn and if you want them to learn, you had better make sure its fun.

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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2011, 03:19:19 AM »

Other than teaching and reading, shower your kids with lots of love but also discipline them. Show them the way how you want them to be through yourself being their model. A happy, passionate and enthusiastic child will always be successful in the learning path of their life  smile


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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2011, 07:52:27 PM »

Thanks for tackling a common problem and opening it up for discussion. Most people criticize me when I mention that I am trying to teach my daughter to read and she is not yet two. It's nice to see that other people have similar experiences and can contribute valuable insight into how to deal with this.

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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 09:42:32 PM »

What can we do to improve the image of early learning? What aspects of early learning might appeal to our friends and family if presented in the right way?  Showing babies and toddlers enjoying early learning programs is a great start.  I thought showing early learning in a creative context might help too.  This is just my second video.  Maybe those of you with more experience could up load something more “creative” or “feel good” etc.


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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2011, 06:16:29 AM »

I think one way to show a positive side of early learning is to emphasize how much young children enjoy these programs.  My baby is two months old, so we haven't started the LR program yet.  But we do the infant stimulation cards, and he really responds.  He focuses, and smiles and babbles.  It is quite obvious that he enjoys it. 

btw- Cute Video Heidi!

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« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2011, 01:15:52 PM »

Just edited the blog piece to add this:

Won’t My Child Eventually Learn To Read In School Anyway?

Yes, most likely.

However, the first thing to consider is this.  When other children are busy trying to learn how to read in school, a child who learned to read as a preschooler would, instead, be consolidating what she already knows from experience, and would start out as a confident reader.  Instead of it possibly being an area of confusion and struggle, reading becomes an area of strength and confidence.

Next, a child may know how to read.  But at what level?

The official literacy rate in the US is 99%, and this is similar to many developed countries, so the chances are very high that any child in the US or developed country will know how to read, technically speaking.

But how well can the child read?

You see, two children could both know how to read, but could be reading at vastly different levels.  How easily is a child able to comprehend and absorb written information?  When we start talking about levels (and concepts such as ‘functional literacy’), then the literacy rate starts to get much lower, even as low as 50% in the US depending on how you classify literacy.

The point is, learning how to read is only the first step.  The more important next step is learning to read well

This is particularly important because a child's reading level will determine how well the child will be able to absorb written information, and this has very serious implications on the acquisition of knowledge in general.

Reading is said to be the gateway of further knowledge, and the foundation for learning almost all other subjects.  The earlier a child masters reading, therefore, the earlier the child can begin to acquire such other knowledge. 

Children are especially hungry for knowledge, even if it may be limited to topics that interest them, like dinosaurs.  Imagine how much happier a child would be if he could read up and learn all about his favorite dinosaurs HIMSELF at the age of 5, when most children have not even started to learn to read yet and can only admire the pictures in the books.

If all children were to master reading earlier, would this not reduce the number of children whose learning of other subjects was hampered because of reading difficulties?  Is it that difficult to see that learning to read early would therefore bring long-term benefits?  To me, it’s just common sense.


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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2011, 04:59:57 AM »

You are so right.  I have 2 kids.  My eldest learned to read the traditional way at age 5 in kindergarten.  He has dyslexia and reads on a first grade level at age 8.  On the other hand, I began teaching my daughter to read at 23 months.  She just turned 4 in April.  She also appears to read on a first grade level but with greater fluency and comprehension than my son.  Actually I think that she can read at a higher level but doesn't have the stamina yet.

My son has had multiple interventions at school to no avail.  This summer I am paying for him to work individually with a tutor specializing in dyslexia 4x's per week.  I have invested a small fortune trying to help him become a fluent reader.  The sad part is that my son is gifted but learning will become excruciatingly painful if he can't read well.

Many educators have responded to my dismay with "Don't worry, they all learn to read by age 8."  Well, my son is 8 now, and this is hardly reading.  I wish I could turn back the clock to his babyhood and start over again.  At our school, in kindergarten, they teach the kids to read by using pictogram - "cat" is spelled with pictures of a can, apple, and tooth.  Then slowly they replaced the pictogram with the letters.  With my new knowledge of early education, I realize that this technique adds an extra unnecessary mental layer - hardwired between the letters and phonics are ridiculously confusing images.  For the letter "e" they used a girl's picture called "Ethel."  For "x", the picture was an ox.  Sometimes I am surprised that my son can read at all.  But this forum has taught me to never underestimate a child's abilities, even the brain of an 8 yr old has great plasticity.  I just have to find a way to reprogram his hard-wiring. 

Kindergarten teachers are not required to be reading specialist.  They do not get enough training to rely on them to teach such an important life skill.  For most kids, they will learn anyway.  But for kids that struggle, things can go very wrong quickly.  Children learn to hide their deficits in shame and to avoid reading.  Small difficulties get compounded, and remediation becomes increasingly more difficult.  If I had taught him to read in babyhood he may have learned slower than other babies, but I'm sure that he would been reading by kindergarten.  At this point, no one would believe that he is more intellectual than his obviously gifted sister.  There are too many glitches interfering with his ability to process information.  He has been struggling to understand the origin of the universe since age 3.  At age 4, he became aware of his own mortality and cried for 3 days straight.  At the same ages, my daughter believes in fairies and princesses.  I hope I can find a way to unlock his potential before he loses confidence in himself. 

Won't your child learn to read in school?  Maybe not, so don't risk it.  Instead make sure they learn early.  It is easier to learn early, and it optimizes brain functioning.


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« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2011, 07:14:08 AM »

I was just searching for a specific statistic but stumbled on this instead, in regards to different levels of reading ability.

Literacy Statistics

According to the literacy fast facts from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), literacy is defined as "using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential."

"One measure of literacy is the percentage of adults who perform at four achievement levels: Below Basic, Basic, Intermediate, and Proficient. In each type of literacy, 13 percent of adults were at or above Proficient (indicating they possess the skills necessary to perform complex and challenging literacy activities) in 2003. Twenty-two percent of adults were Below Basic (indicating they possess no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills) in quantitative literacy, compared with 14 percent in prose literacy and 12 percent in document literacy."

Why learn to read early?

Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. The fourth grade is the watershed year.

Literacy statistics worldwide

According to UNICEF, "Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names and two thirds of them are women."

Literacy statistics and juvenile court

85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.

More than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.

Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. This equates to taxpayer costs of $25,000 per year per inmate and nearly double that amount for juvenile offenders.

Illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states, "The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure." Over 70% of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.

Many of the USA ills are directly related to illiteracy. Just a few statistics:

    Literacy is learned. Illiteracy is passed along by parents who cannot read or write.

    One child in four grows up not knowing how to read.

    43% of adults at Level 1 literacy skills live in poverty compared to only 4% of those at Level 5

    3 out of 4 food stamp recipients perform in the lowest 2 literacy levels

    90% of welfare recipients are high school dropouts

    16 to 19 year old girls at the poverty level and below, with below average skills, are 6 times more likely to have out-of-wedlock children than their reading counterparts.

    Low literary costs $73 million per year in terms of direct health care costs. A recent study by Pfizer put the cost much higher.

So apparently it's not enough to know how to read, kids need to know how to read well to help them avoid becoming a statistic.


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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2011, 04:48:40 AM »

Thanks for the stats.  I'm arguing with the Child Study Team to get a reading specialist for individual tutoring with my son during school.  These statistics will help support my case.


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« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2011, 06:46:11 AM »

Let me tell you a sad but true story,

This is about my brother who never learnt to read or write proficiantly. You would call him functionally illiterate. This was the lat 1980's and early 1990's when my brother and I started school I am older by 17 months

By the time he was two my mum knew he had a problem, we were in and out of peadiatric offices with him and Mum had him assesed at 2 1/2 at 2 1/2 he was already a year to 18months behind his peers in meeting his milestones. He had major problems but because this was the 80's early 90's my brother was never diagnosed with having autism or an autism spetrum disorder.

Fast forward to starting school. He was already developmentally behind and he enters school. My brother considerably immature to his peers unable to sit still and therefore unable to sit for learning to read goes through reception and into year one still unable to read basic readers. At the end of year one is still measuring behind his peers and is struggling to make friends because his behaviour was so bad (Unable to be helped with meds as ritalin or other stimulants were not avaliable and most paediatricians still did not have a diagnosis for him) My parents make the decision to hold him back and he repeats year one.

By now he is very well aware that something is wrong, and that he can't learn. He gives up on himself and so do his teachers. My Mum is now on the phone to the school on daily basis arguiong with them to get him the help that he needs. My brother now hates reading and even getting him to try to learn to read is an uphill effort. He knows there is something wrong and the pressure to learn to read becomes so great he just shuts down. Also we at this stage live 5 hours away from the closest capital city and the no. of trips to the paediatrician in the car were getting too much. My mum was also unable to homeschool him because of two reasons. One intrest rates had hit 17% and she was forced back to work and homeschooling is not very big Australia and resources were small and hard to get a hold of. At this stage it is now 1991 and my parents move back to Adelaide to get him the help that he needs

He continues to coast through school getting by on just what he needs to do. Most teachers will not give him the time of day and not all their fault as they have 20+ other students in their class. He does not improve but stays pretty much where he is.

On to high School My parents now divorced decide to send him to a private school who quickly become aware of just how behind he is and so do the other kids. He is teased for being the way he is and having the remdial classes to catch up he goesback to where he was and refuses once again to learn.

On to year ten he is the oldest kid in his class and first to get his licence and a car suddenly he is the most popular kid in class. Suddenly the ids who didn't like him are his best mates and from here on in the spiral gets worst. He falls in with the 'wrong crowd' and then he starts to get into drugs first cigaretts then dope then speed. He does not completes year 10 starts year 11 and because he just does not want to be there he is asked to leave.

With barely an education behind him and the inability to realyy be able to read and write he is unable to get a job and any job he does get he does not hold down for long. The grip of drugs now takes it toll and at this stage we belive he is shooting up speed it is now 1999-2000.

The drug problem gets worse and he starts stealing from me and my mum first its just a $20 here and there then my credit card goes missing and some of mum's jewllery and things are hocked to by drugs. I have to report my brother to the police and he is charged with stealing and and being fraudelant. Mum kicks him out of home.

on to his 21st birthday he gets charged but never convicted of doing an armed robbery. He spends his 21st birthday in Jail or remand because he has not been to court. He gets off due to lack of evidence. This is a bit of a wake up call and he starts to clean himself up. Gets off the speed and manges to find a job  which he does not keep for very long they sac him because he can't follow the instructions that are on the equiopment because he can barely read.

So today he is now 28 years old. He is still out of work and is on welfare and even though he is offered courses by the Aus Gov to improve his reading and writing he refuses (By the way as he is well and truly are grown man it does make me angry that he wont even try to improve himself)

So that is his story a true statistic of someone who is left behind.

I don't tell you this story for pity or sympathy trust me I don't need it and neither does he. but to show you all that what you are doing with your little ones is truly the greatest gift you will ever give them. Your children will only end up as the best statistics the early learning programs you have implemented.


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