Thursday, February 10, 2011

Debunking A Harmful Myth


For the past few years, I've seen an increasing wave of commercial products promising to help you "make sure your child isn't behind" when it comes to academics.  This barrage of advertising is marketed, not at families with elementary school children but at parents of children ages 3 months to 3 years. 

I encourage every professional early childhood educator reading this blog to explore the truth about these programs and communicate the science behind it to the families whose children you influence.  Take a moment to share this blog with the parents of children you care about and community leaders supporting high quality early childhood.  Our voices need to be stronger than the "hype".  Here's just one example: 

Myth #1: Your Baby Can Read:   Individuals more interested in making money than addressing rigorous scientific research (i.e., the same results in several studies and with several different populations), can easily create a report and use the catch phrase "research-based".  That's exactly what the clever fellow who created this program has done.  Clicking on the header in this paragraph takes you to a Today: Money interview where the truth is revealed.

In the world of education and reading, I always caution professionals to look for at least three independent studies that prove the validity of a program before even considering it.  Not only is this program ineffective in teaching babies who do not have the mental connections to read but it can be harmful in later reading development. 

My book for parents, Anytime Reading Readiness, addresses this important issue of the "rush to read"; earlier is not always better. Many other voices are speaking out to help families and early childhood educators understand this phenomenon including Literacy Connections, Educationworld, and The Learning Disabilities Association of Washington.

As always, I welcome comments for those who read this post and dialogue about understanding language and literacy development in young children. 

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