There are a lot of criticisms from experts on early learning programs and while I understand the need for skepticism when there is a commercial industry booming with early learning products promising to transform babies into little Einsteins, I find it disappointing when they fail to get their facts right. It’s just as bad as a product promising to deliver the world on a silver platter. And when they criticise a program that is truly working for many parents, I think it is important for those parents to correct the misinformation so that other parents can benefit from the programs that do work.
The recent criticisms on the Today’s show regarding Robert Titzer’s “Your Baby Can Read” program has spurred KL, founder and CEO of the BrillKids early learning program, to address the common criticisms of teaching babies to read. If you have ever had any doubts about whether or not to start a reading program with your child, that blog post is an excellent read. KL himself taught his daughter Felicity to read at 12 months (see the video below). If you’re going to listen to anyone, let that person be someone who really knows what he’s talking about.
Thought I’ve written about reviewing the case for early childhood education a little while back, there was a rather important point that KL mentioned which I think should be highlighted. In response to early childhood education, many people have asked, “What’s the rush?” Early childhood educators then talk about the absorbent mind from birth to age 6 and how it is important to capture this learning potential. But KL pointed out a reason even more fundamental than this – the younger you start the easier it is to teach your child. This is because the younger your child is, the less distractions there are to divert his attention from what you are trying to teach him.
That was my experience with both Gavin and Gareth. When I found out about Doman and BrillKids, Gavin was already 2 years plus. He was obsessed with Thomas and trains and would not look at anything that wasn’t about trains. It was impossible to divert his attention to anything else so I had to get creative with my lessons. In order to teach Gavin anything, I had enlist the help of Thomas and all his friends on the Island of Sodor. He learned numbers with Thomas, colours with Thomas, and alphabets with Thomas. Of course, back then, I was new to the whole early learning program and bumbled my way through with lots of mistakes. A lot has changed since then. But I am digressing… Whenever I had to buy new materials for Gavin, I wouldn’t know whether he would like it or reject it. He was resistant to trying new things so our early learning journey was challenging.
When Gareth was born, I bit the bullet and invested in the Doman reading program, and later, the BrillKids Little Reader for reading and Chinese, and Little Math. He watched Your Baby Can Read, TweedleWink DVDs, and Signing Time. Gareth enjoyed them all. Whenever he sees hears the familiar alpha wave music from his TweedleWink DVDs, he comes over to watch it. Whenever he sees Little Reader or Little Math loading up on the computer, he comes to my side and tries to climb into my lap so he can start his lesson. Teaching Gareth has been a joy. While I am sure that part of it is due to his different personality (compared to Gavin), I do feel that starting earlier has made a big impact. Children like things that are familiar and having done these programs since he was a baby, it is a familiar part of his routine. If I had a third child, I would do it exactly like this.