How to Teach your Baby to Read

By ChildrenLearningReading.com

Teaching your baby to read is becoming more and more high priority for parents now as it becomes clear that learning to read at a young age offers numerous advantages for the child once he or she begins school. Studies have consistently found that teaching a baby to read and helping children develop phonemic awareness well before entering school can significantly improve their development in reading and spelling. However, when it comes to teaching babies to read, there are two main teaching methods.

These two main methods of teaching a baby or child to read are the whole language method, and the phonics and phonemic awareness method (the phonetic approach), which should be the preferred teaching method in helping children learn to read. Some prefer the whole language method, while others use the phonics approach, and there are also educator that use a mix of different approaches. With the Look-say approach of whole language learning, a child begins with memorizing sight words, and then taught various strategies of figuring out the text from various clues.

The whole language method produces inaccurate and poor readers compared to students of the phonetic approach. Using the whole word approach, English is being taught as an ideographic language such as Chinese. One of the biggest arguments from whole-language advocates is that teaching a baby to read using phonics breaks up the words into letters and syllables, which have no actual meaning, yet they fail to acknowledge the fact that once the child is able to decode the word, they are able to actually READ that entire word, pronounce it, and understand its meaning. So in practicality, it’s a very weak argument. English is an alphabetic system, and unlike Chinese, it is not an ideograph like Chinese characters, and should not be taught using an ideographic approach.

I always say that if your baby can speak, then you can begin to teach your baby to read. I won’t mention any names here, but I think most parents are probably aware of one very popular “reading” program, which is a whole word approach. Using this method, your baby simply learns to memorize the words without actually reading the words. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that teaching your baby to read using the whole word approach is an effective method. In fact, there are large numbers of studies which have consistently stated that teaching children to reading using phonemic awareness is a highly effective method.

Teaching phonemic awareness to children significantly improves their reading more than instruction that lacks any attention to phonemic awareness. – statement made by the National Reading Panel [1]

I do think that the debate on the effectiveness of teaching a baby to read using either the whole language or phonics method is settled by the statements made by the National Reading Panel. They reviewed over 1,960 different studies to make their conclusions.

In fact, while my wife was pregnant with our first child, I began doing extensive research on the subject on how to teach my baby to read – after birth, of course. Like most parents I also came across the popular whole word teaching approach being heavily marketed. Seeing the infomercials got me quite excited actually, seeing the babies on TV “reading”. But after trying it out, it occurred to me that the our baby wasn’t actually “reading”, but actually “memorizing”, and I thought to myself, how are my children supposed to read newer, and more complicated words as they grow older without an appropriate method of decoding those words? This is where my long and extensive research into phonics and phonemic awareness began.

After many hours of research and learning as much as I could, I felt comfortable enough with our simple phonemic awareness teaching method, that my wife and I began giving brief 3 to 5 minute lessons to our daughter, aged 2 years and 8 months. Within just a few short weeks, her reading ability (and I mean actual reading ability, not memorization) was astounding, even for me as the parent who gave the reading instructions. Friends and family alike, were simply flabbergasted at what our daughter was capable of reading at just 2 years and 11 months. Please watch the video above, composed of clips of her reading randomly created sentences for reading fun.

I simply can’t imagine this kind of progress possible with the whole word approach – just think of the tens and hundreds of words a young child would have to memorize!

Our son is fast approaching the age where he will soon be able to speak, and we will be using the same simple step-by-step method to teach him to read. If you’d like to learn more about our simple, effective, step-by-step program, please signup for our newsletter below. We also send out new articles, updates, tips, and guides on teaching a baby to read.

Click here to learn how to easily and quickly teach your child to read.

 

Notes:

1. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Co-Sleeping: Should Your Child Sleep In Your Bed?

Baby asleep with father

Co-sleeping is where a child sleeps in bed with his parents. It’s one of the most hotly debated and controversial topics related to pediatric sleep. Let’s see why.

Some people argue that co-sleeping is the right and natural way to raise a child because the practice fosters a stronger bond and a more secure attachment.

Conversely, others will tell you that co-sleeping is risky, ridiculous, or even dangerous and they don’t want it for their family.

So, which approach holds the truth?

First, it’s important to understand that co-sleeping is not magic. Although some proponents of the family would disagree, numerous couples have reported that their babies did not necessarily sleep deeper or longer because their parents were close by. In fact, some parents found that their child slept longer and woke less frequently when they stopped co-sleeping and moved him into his own crib.

However, whether families choose to co-sleep or have their children sleep independently is personal decision, and if both parents and child are safe, rested, and fulfilled, then co-sleeping is nothing to worry about.

If you decide to co-sleep, this commitment requires some very careful thinking about what you and your spouse feel is right for you as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

Ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Is it nice to think about enjoying the coziness of sleeping in close proximity, or does one or more of us tend to stay active during sleeping – potentially disrupting the others?
  • Does everyone in the family want to co-sleep, or are we leaning toward it because one of us feels strongly?
  • Are we willing to commit to being quiet after our child falls asleep, or do we like to watch TV or talk in bed?
  • Will we enjoy being able to feed our baby more often throughout the night, or will having him next to us make it tougher to wean nighttime feeds?
  • Are we agreeable to getting into bed when our child does, to ensure his safety?
  • For working parents, does sleeping next to our child allow us to feel more connected to him?

As expected, co-sleeping has both advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s take a closer look at them.

Advantages:

  • Constant closeness whenever the child is awake. Many children and parents enjoy this feeling.
  • Immediate action and support for any sleep-related problem.
  • The ability to nurse and respond to other nighttime wakings without getting up.
  • More time to spend with the child.
  • Possibly better sleep for both the child and parents, if the child was sleeping poorly to begin with.

Disadvantages:

  • Parents may sleep poorly if their children are restless sleepers.
  • Parents may end up sleeping in separate rooms, and they may become angry at their child or with each other.
  • Children’s and adults’ sleep cycles do not coincide.
  • Parents may have to go to bed at a very early hour with their children and be left with little time for their own evening activities.
  • Parents have little privacy.
  • There may be a slight increase in the risk to the infant from SIDS and related causes.

The decision to co-sleep should be yours, made by the parent – or parents – and based on your own personal philosophies, not on pressure from your child or anyone else. Another family’s good or bad experience with co-sleeping should not influence your decision: your child is unique and your family is not the same.

Click here for a child psychologist’s weird trick to get your baby to sleep.