There’s a new (or newish) product out there teaching babies to read. Babies. Not toddlers. Not preschoolers. Babies. It’s called Your Baby Can ReadÂ®, and it’s going to revolutionize the way we teach reading.
Dr. Robert Titzer, PhD (yes, he’s both a doctor and a PhD) claims that by waiting until preschool or kindergarten to introduce reading, we are not only hampering our children’s abilities to learn how to read, but also crushing their ability to develop reading skills as they grow.
Instead,Â Doc Bobby Titz PhD has developed a *New*! and *Improved*! method of teaching kids to read.Â All you have to do is buy his program (for the low low price of just $200) and plop your newborn in front of the TV.
I’m not even being snarky about the newborn bit. His DVD’s are most effective when introduced at 3 months of age… after that the learning window starts to slowly close. If your kid is older than 3 months, relax, you still have time, just remember that every hour you wait is an hour your child will spend becoming irreversibly dumber until he’s pretty much permanently functionally illiterate by the age of 4.
Really, there just isn’t enough pressure these days to create perfect little over achievers. There’s nothing adding to parental insecurities. And have you noticed no one is out there promoting those condescending and petty my-baby-is-better-than-yours competitions between parents on playgrounds everywhere? Doesn’t anyone care anymore about totally fucking up kids with neurotic and unnecessary pressure to be the most developmentally advanced of all their peers?Â (I’veÂ been feeling a lot of pressure lately thinking that I’m the only one trying to get the message out. Every Tuesday I spend the day at the local NICUs handing out informational pamphlets titled Prepping your newborn for success: A Parent’s guide to getting your child into the best kindergarten pre-med programs; 12 weeks to Calculus: the dangers of ending your maternity leave before your baby learns advanced math and Raising Twins: don’t double your disappointment.)
In actuality, the BobbyTits method is far from revolutionary. Here’s how it works:
- You spend $200 on a reading system and BobbyTits mails it to you.
- Beaming with pride that your baby will be the last of his peers to sit up due to the weight of the knowledge in his head, you open the box.
- Ignoring the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics to not let your kid watch TV until he’s at least 2, you pop the DVD in, and sit your illiterate disappointment of a newborn in front of the TV.
- You log onto parenting forums to tell people not to vaccinate their kids and then take some “What kind of _____ are you?” quizzes on Facebook.
- An hour later, you return to your baby only to find that he can now read!
The Titz system is literally video flashcards – flashcards without the annoying responsibility of personally going over the content of the cards with your child. The DVD shows a word, someone says the word out loud, and then there is a short video clip of the word. For example, the screen shows “EAT”. Then someone says “eeeeeeeeeeet”. Then baby sees someone eating for 5 seconds.
The fact that this isn’t really even reading, but just association, does not bother Bobbytits. In fact he freely admits it on his site.
Are the babies simply memorizing the words or are they actually reading?
Answer: It is true that the babies initially memorize the shapes of the written words, but over time they will figure out the patterns of the written language in a way that is similar to how they figure out the patterns of the spoken language.
Um, to me that says that you are giving them flash cards; they memorize the flash cards and then they figure out how to read later when someone teaches them about things like phonics and the alphabet… you know, when they actually learn how reading works.
Oh wait, no. I’m wrong. The YBCR program is backed by RealScyenceâ„¢! Just look at this very convincing statisical graph from their FAQ:
Yes, according to “scientific studies”, the majority of 2nd graders read at a 2nd grade level. They also “cite” “scientific studies” that “late age readers” read at a lower level than other kids their age. Even if we concede that this information is accurate (for the record, there are about a billion ways this data is probably skewed), they present it as if it’s something to fear, but it’s not. If a kid starts school later than other kids his age (thus being “introduced to reading” later), for whatever reason, he’s generally going to be behind other kids his age. This chart leaves out information like whether the kid who starts reading at 6 1/2 is excelling or lagging behind other kids in his grade level. Sure, at the age of 10 he’s reading at a 4th grade level, compared with a 5th grade level for other 10 year olds, but is this kid even in 5th grade? Maybe he’s only in 3rd grade. It’s quite fair to say that most of these “late reading” kids are about one grade behind other kids their age.
Most schools in Illinois have a September 1st birthday cut off for enrollment. This means that your son or daughter has to be 5 years old by Sept 1 in order to get into kindergarten in any given school year. So if your daughter is born Sept 2, she will have to wait until she’s 6 to start school. According to this chart, if she starts reading at the same time as her other classmates, she’ll actually be reading at a level more advanced than her peers until around 5th grade when things seem to average out. (In fact, there are even parents who “red shirt” their 5-year-olds just to give them this advantage, arguing that older children are more intellectually mature and ready to learn.)
Using this information, Dr. PhD then creates a carefully crafted and seductive non-sequitur argument that if most kids learn at an average pace, and kids who fall behind learn at a slowed pace, then by using his program, and learning to read early, babies read at a more advanced level. And he charts the evidence to convince you of that fact.
But the evidence for his program isn’t “cited scientific studies” like the ones he’s using to gather his comparative data; it’s evidence “based on information from children tested after learning to read using Your Baby Can Read”. Tested? How? How many children? How often were they tested? Once? Monthly? Tested while using the system? After? Were they tested before using the system? Are they receiving other reading instruction? Are they developmentally advanced in other areas? Tested by whom? Are these results typical? Can we see the study? No? Ok, then I’m holding on to my $200.
Here’s the thing – there’s already a really great program available to parents that doesn’t cost $200. It’s proven. It’s recommended by child development experts almost unanimously. The problem is, you can’t bottle it up and market it.
All you have to do is sit down with your baby, every day, and read to them.
Show them books. Show them words. Talk to them about the words, interact with them during the story. The cost of this program is whatever you want it to be, as low as the cost of transportation to the library up to whatever you can budget for books.
Yes, it’s more work. You can’t do the dishes or fold the laundry or work on employee reviews while you’re doing it. You can’t Google stalk the cheerleaders from your high school. You can’t catch up on the news or go over your fantasy baseball lineup one more time. But that’s the point. You can’t teach your kid by plopping him in front of the TV. You teach your kid to read by reading. Sooner than you’re ready, your baby will read, and when she does, it will blow your mind.
Your daughter doesn’t need Your Baby Can Read. She needs her parents. She needs people to show her not only how to read, but why to read, to show her the fun of reading, to teach her the importance of reading.Â Learning to love books and love reading is going to offer your baby benefits that this douche can’t put on a misleading scare-tactic chart.
This is your child’s education, not a Walmart New Hire orientation. You can’t do it with a video.
All Dr Titz’s program is going to do is take $200 out of your book budget. That’s about 20 books a kid isn’t going to own because of his parents’Â need for him to learn to read early. Perhaps Dr. Titz never read the definition of “irony”.