Jul 27, 2012

Reading Update

It has only been a year and a half since we started using YBCR.  You can see where he was then in this earlier post.  He has come a long way since then.  After he finished the YBCR program, the “Your Child Can Read” videos helped further his progress, but at that point we had our foot in the door.  I made a few home-made books, like the “Krypto” book in the film, to help with the transition from single words to sentences.  This gave him confidence in his ability to read “real” books.  He also loves Starfall.com, so we bought a set of their beginning readers.  Most of our reading program since has consisted of reading a lot of books from the library.

Helen has had access to the “Your Baby Can Read” videos since toddler-hood, and usually watched the videos with Peter.   However, I was focusing my attention on helping Peter first, and have only recently started working with her.  My program with her has been more of a mix between YBCR, Monkisee, and “Meet the Sight Words” from Preschool Prep.  The latter is a new addition to our library, and while I was skeptical at first, it has proven to be a valuable asset.  Peter learned sight words on his own quite easily just from context.  I never “taught” them to him specifically, in other words.  There’s no real need for it.  However, in Helen’s case, knowing the sight words has been her road to reading.  Almost every sentence has at least one word that she knows, and usually more.  This has given her early confidence.  I suppose her reasoning is, “I know half the sentence already, just tell me the other half and I’m good to go!”  When our family does scriptures every night, she reads a verse.  We point to every word, and she reads the ones that she knows.  When she doesn’t know a word, we simply say the word and she repeats it.  We read a lot of story books this way as well.  Helen doesn’t like the flash-cards as much as Peter did (he loved them).  Her program is to watch the videos, and read a lot.

Patrick is 22 months and is also becoming a young reader.  He knows quite a few words from YBCR, but is more excited about sight words.  He likes to point them out when we read.  If there is a book with a dog, he will point to the picture of the dog and say “dog”.  He can read “dog”, but he won’t point to the word.  Instead, after pointing to the picture, he’ll point to the word “like” and say, with as much enthusiasm, “like!”  It’s really cute.  He knows more than 50 words.

In closing, I wish to again express my regret that “Your Baby Can Read” has closed its doors this month.  I feel like we are losing a lot of our freedoms in this country, and this event is a testament to that.  Many of their products are still available on Amazon.com and Ebay, so if you are at all interested I would think that now would be the time to buy before they sell out.  I hope that the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood doesn’t go after the other early learning companies out there.  Some of the alternatives to YBCR are as follows:

I have only purchased the first DVD, so I don’t have a lot of experience with this program, but my children love it.  There are cute rhymes and puppet shows, which I really like.  The only thing I don’t like about Monkisee is that there isn’t very much repetition in the video.  You see the word once, and then have a cute mini-lesson to understand the vocabulary.  There is a flashcard track that helps, but the repetition isn’t built into the main video.  However, if you had her reading program, you would have the flashcards with the pictures, and using these cards would more than compensate.  One thing I really like about Monkisee is that it uses large red words, as recommended by Glenn Doman.  Red is an attractive color for very young babies.  The volume 1 DVD also uses the words Doman recommended starting out with.  I also bought her "Teaching Babies to Read Guide", which was helpful, especially if you haven't read Doman's book.

We have a family membership, and my children LOVE it!  About 8 months ago, I asked Peter what helped him learn to read the most.  His answer was “The man in dext.”  Huh?  It turns out he meant the main index on Starfall.  We also bought their beginning reader books, and the kids really like them.
It’s completely free, and was created by Larry Sanger.  Sanger co-founded Wikipedia, but left when it started hosting pornographic content.  His son Henry was an early reader and has been an inspiration to our family.  Much of the content on Reading Bear was in part created by other parents, and I even helped a little.  It has more of a phonetic approach, which is helpful if you are starting with a 3+ year old child.

I have been a member of the online community for a couple of years now.  There are a lot of parents, as well as early learning experts that frequent the forums.  It’s a great place to go for advice for teaching many subjects to young children, not just reading.  Things like foreign language, music, art, math, and music are discussed regularly, and if you don’t see what you like, you can start your own topic.  The forum is free, and it’s a great place to start.  I have also been eyeing their Early Reader, especially after watching their recent promotion video.  It comes with 25 books!  I also love the idea of working with customizable software.  I’ve done a lot of that on my own, but it’s a lot of work.  If you have a nice budget to work with, I think Early Reader would be the way to go.  I'm a sucker for this kind of thing though.  In spite of all the other products we already have, I want this for Christmas...

I have no experience with the Leap Frog videos, but we have a neighbor who learned to read while very young with the help of Leap Frog videos, specifically the word factory one.

I vouched for the “Meet the Sight Words” videos in my post, but they have other products as well, including books.  Apparently there are a lot of libraries that have these videos.

I’ll put a plug in for him whenever I can.  His “How to Teach Your Baby to Read” book is what started it all for me.  My philosophy for early learning changed when I read that book, and the very name of this blog (Professional Mothering) came from his charge to become a professional mother.  His books tell you how to make your own reading materials for cheap, as well as giving tips for creating homemade books and flashcards.

Then of course you don’t NEED a program at all to teach your child to read.  Library books have ultimately been the bulk of our whole reading program.  Spending lots of time reading to your children teaches them the “why” for reading in the first place.  We want them to love books!  When something clicks in their heads that they can read to themselves, nothing can hold them back.  I love watching my 5-year-old read to his younger siblings.  He loves it, and they love it too.  Peter is not limited to looking at pictures when he is interested in a book.  He can also learn what the text around it has to say. He can learn about the things that he is interested in.  He LOVES to read.

Loving to read.  Isn't that what it's all about?

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