'Your Baby Can Read' ... Really?

Filed under: In The News, Day Care & Education, Development: Toddlers & Preschoolers

Many parents want to have all-star children who mark their territory at the head of the class. But if they're spending lots of money to get them there, they might as well just throw their cash away, "Today" reports.

Ads for Your Baby Can Read, a program that consists of flash cards, DVDs and pop-up books that supposedly help your child learn to read before she enters kindergarten, feature babies as young as 3 months reading words and phrases such as "Touch your ears" from flash cards. However, the seemingly brilliant tots might not really be reading at all.

Ginger Torres, mother of Chloe, 3, bought the Your Baby Can Read kit.

"The reason I wanted to buy it is to give her a head start before school," she tells Today. "(But) what you're getting is not really what they say."

According to experts, Torres is right. Dr. Nonie Lesaux, a child development expert at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, tells NBC the babies shown on TV aren't really reading.

"They memorize what's on those cue cards ... It's not reading," she says.

Dr. Maryanne Wolf, director of Cognitive Neuroscience at Tufts University, agrees.

"It's an extraordinary manipulation of facts," she tells Today.

Today spoke with 10 experts nationwide who all had the same opinions regarding the program: Children that young can be made to memorize and recognize words, but the minds of younger children are not developed enough to read and learn at the level that the television advertisements claim they can.

Dr. Robert Titzer, the creator of Your Baby Can Read, says the program starts with memorization but leads to reading.

"We have a book full of studies that support the use of our program," he tells NBC.

Titzer agreed provide the research to Today, but instead sent his own customer satisfaction surveys and general studies about child learning.

Experts say the best way to teach your children reading skills is the traditional (and free) method: Read, talk and play with them. If they're having fun, they're learning, Today reports.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.