I’ve been to several homes, ironically to work with a 2 year-old delayed in talking, and found that the parents had the complete package of flashcards and videos for “Teach Your Baby to Read.” There were pictures of zoo animals with the large print of the word so a child could learn to “read” the word. Sure enough, their little ones could parrot back what a word said after who knows how much time was spent drilling the toddler with the cards and watching videos for the same purpose. I tried to kindly tell the parents that their child wasn’t really “reading” but memorizing the shape of a word to say it back, and that the vocabulary wasn’t even in the child’s everyday experience–“gorilla,” “shoulders,” or “chimpanzee.”  Two year-olds who are just forming a verbal vocabulary would be much better served learning words like “cup,” “juice,” or “want,” than “elephant.” Besides, the time spent in front of videos and drilling flashcards is time lost from meaningful everyday experience.

This morning, the Today Show looked at that very system called “Teach Your Baby to Read,” and debunked the claim that babies had the capacity to learn to read. Certainly there are a few unusual cases, but according to the experts they interviewed on the show, babies aren’t even capable cognitively to learn to read at such a young age.

Once again, it is important to note that what looks like the easy route, talking and playing with your baby, is really the best!