Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Skeptics, Draw Near! My Baby Can Read! I Think...

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When The Parent Bloggers Network issued a call for folks to review a series of DVDs called Your Baby Can Read! I though I was hitting the proverbial snark gold mine. This was ready-made mocking territory, and I hadn't even gotten to the part about it being based on the research of Robert C. Titzer, Ph. D.

(I know. I am juvenile. Like, fourteen.)

But then I read some of what Dr. Titzer had to say and watched the 'parents' section of the video and I thought, hey, this might make sense. Dr. Titzer's theory is that babies can learn written words as easily as they learn spoken words, often at the same time, by using a multi-sensory approach. The videos show the word, say the word and then show a picture or an action related to the word. For example, they show the word 'Cat', say the word 'Cat' and then show a short clip of a cat with a simple narrative. It didn't hurt that the video also showed numerous babies and toddlers actually reading, including Dr. Titzer's own children. So I decided to dedicate a few minutes of Sam's day to these DVDs and playing with the accompanying cards.

Right out of the gate Sam seemed to enjoy what he was watching. Naturally, we began with the Starter DVD. The images are engaging without being over-stimulating, so they held his attention well. There are also segments of song, which he seemed to enjoy even more. The accompanying cards, while seemingly plain, have been and continue to be a huge source of entertainment for him. There is a word printed on each side, and a pull tab at the end. When you pull the tab, a picture or action of the word slides out of a pocket.

Every morning, I would put on the Starter DVD for Sam as he ate his breakfast. Initially I was thinking that he probably just enjoyed watching TV while eating, something we try to discourage in the household, Daddy. But I noticed that he did seem to be paying attention. I think it helped that all of the people featured were children or babies. Also, all of the narration is done by children or soft-spoken adults. There are several requests in the video for the viewers to repeat words. At twelve months, Sam only says 'Mama' and 'Dada' so he hasn't gotten around to actually saying any of the words yet, but he has picked up on some of the actions. The first time he clapped when the word 'Clap' came on screen, I considered it a fluke, but I encouraged him. So you can imagine how shocked I was when he did it the next day. And the next. And then later that afternoon when I showed him the card that says 'Clap.' Is he reading? Dr. Titzer says that at first, the babes aren't truly reading, but memorizing the look of the word. Over time, they can begin to recognize individual letters and can begin true reading, but it takes time. Once we started Volume 1, I noticed that Sam would sometimes clap when the word 'Chimpanzee' came on the screen. Perhaps he's made some sort of connection to the letter 'C'

We've only just begun. It's recommended that you watch the starter DVD for one month, and then Volume 1 for two months, while occasionally reviewing the starter DVD. There are five DVDs in total, and I'm hoping to continue to see Sam make progress as we continue to watch. If you are interested yourself, go get yourself a free demo DVD or watch some testimonials. Or click on over to the Parent Bloggers Network and see what other parent bloggers have to say about it.

The only major drawback I can fathom is that we'll have to be much more careful about spelling out words when we don't want him to know what we're talking about. It would be really embarrassing to be corrected by a three year old.

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