I have a young daughter who I am teaching to read, and I was given a "Your Baby Can Read" DVD set by a friend. When discussing it with friends, several of my teacher friends frowned upon the use of "memorization" to teach reading, and implied it would have negative long term effects. Is there data to support this claim? Since I expect there is a lot of research in this area, are some methods of teaching reading considered "bad"?

For reference, the "Your Baby Can Read" series proposes that babies even can "read" even before they can talk by watching videos and looking at books which show words and then show a picture or short video that explains the word. This is intended to make the connection between the word and what it represents, and ideally guide the child in a reaction to indicate they know what it means. There is no mention whatsoever of spelling, or phonetic sounds - it is all word/picture or word/video associations one after another.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Interesting question: A few queries: Is this question directed specifically to the use of DVDs like "Your baby can read" and the memorisation issue? Or is it addressed as to whether there are any "bad" strategies for teaching reading (I think the specific question is more readily answerable)? Finally, for those not familiar with the DVD, would you be able to add a little context regarding what it involves. $\endgroup$ – Jeromy Anglim Jul 13 '12 at 6:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Added detail on the methods of "Your Baby Can Read". If you think a further edit is in order to focus specifically on memorization, that's what I'm most interested in. I don't have a sense for how large in scope "any" would really be - I presumed there would only be one or a few "bad" methods if any, but I'm thinking about broad trends here, not minute details. $\endgroup$ – EBongo Jul 13 '12 at 12:55

In general, parental involvement/engagement has lots of positive social, emotional, cognitive, and academic effects for a child's development. Some evidence suggests that the positive effects of relatively general factors like improved parent-child relationship, increasing motivation and (positive) expectations, etc., are stronger than the specific benefits of learning particular educational material. Based on this, I would say that if you and your daughter enjoy doing these learning to read activities, then they will have positive effects because they will teach your daughter that reading is important and that her parents care about her and her intellectual/academic development, whether or not your daughter specifically learns to read from this DVD.

On the specific subject of reading, it is important to keep in mind that the vast majority of children will learn to read regardless of the particular method of instruction. Phonics-based methods (which emphasize letter-sound correspondences) are generally thought to be more effective than whole-word methods, especially for children at risk for reading disability/dyslexia. However, even the most die-hard phonics supporters acknowledge that phonics needs to be embedded within a comprehensive reading instruction program that makes reading fun and meaningful. In other words, phonics is the best method, but any fun reading activities that you do at home to get her interested in books will have positive effects.

A few references:

Nokali, Bachman, & Votruba-Drzal (2010). Parent Involvement and Children's Academic and Social Development in Elementary School. Child Development, 81(3), 988–1005.

Senechal & LeFevre (2002). Parental Involvement in the Development of Children's Reading Skill: A Five-Year Longitudinal Study. Child Development, 73(2), 445-460.

Rayner, K., Foorman, B. R., Perfetti, C. A., Pesetsky, D., & Seidenberg, M. S. (2001). How Psychological Science Informs the Teaching of Reading. Psychological Science in the Public Interest Monograph, 2, 31-74.

Ehri, Nunes, Stahl, & Willows (2001). Systematic phonics instruction helps students learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panels meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 71, 393–447. [Note: there has been some statistically complex back-and-forth regarding this report, but I believe the original finding still stands.).


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.