Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Teaching My Baby To Read - Adapting Doman

I'm currently working on teaching my second baby to read. I recently posted about how he has shown he can read some words and have gotten some questions about what exactly we have done. I thought it might be helpful to share what has worked for our family.

I have taken a three part approach, but all parts follow the same essential philosophy. I came across it originally in How To Teach Your Baby To Read by Glenn Doman, but have read about similar approaches from Shichida and Right Brain Kids.  He advocates a method that has been working for decades.  The idea is to teach the baby whole words at a time, very quickly and cheerfully, allowing their "right" brain to learn them. There is no active thinking or phonics involved. Lessons should be FAST and FUN.  Quizzing, testing and over-practice are discouraged.  You definitely don't want to bore your baby or make them feel like it is work to learn.

*Note: while I taught Xander this whole word approach, he was able to read words I didn't teach him also. Eventually, he had enough words in his arsenal that he just kind of figured out phonics and decoding on his own. When he was a little older, we did go over phonics when we started spelling. He also enjoyed the Leap Frog phonics movies.

Part 1: Flashcards
I did not use the huge flashcards with red marker that Doman advocates, but instead printed words onto cardstock. Keep in mind that words should be big, since little eyes are still maturing.

We started at about five and a half months doing one set of English words, three times a day. (Technically, I also did one set of Spanish words three times a day, but we dropped it by the time he was one, because he just did not enjoy it and I am not going to force him).  Each set had 5 words.  The first set we did 5 days.  After that, we took one word out and added a new one every day, so he would see every word 3X a day 5 days (15 times total). I would sit him across from me, show him the word and say it clearly and happily.  Then I'd repeat with the other four words.  I would go as quickly as possible while still being clear. Ideally, we would have done this every day, but we did them most days a week, taking a break for holidays or illnesses. 
The easiest way I found to organize this was to use a file folder.  Each day I crossed off the word I took out and wrote the word I added. New words were kept in one hanging folder and old words got put into another.
We phased these out right around Archer's first birthday.  He was losing interest and not wanting to be still.  He also much prefers doing lessons on Little Reader.

Part 2: Little Reader
I started doing Little Reader with Archer at around maybe six month-ish?  I started with just Spanish, added in English, and ultimately dropped the Spanish, based on his interests.  The program comes with a pre-set curriculum that is intended to be done twice a day.  We only did one lesson a day, usually skipping the pictures (Archer didn't like them) and definitely skipping the word-split and game (word-split is kind of against the whole word idea). I also usually turn off the photo pronunciation and video.  It goes much faster if I say the word for the photo and skip the video. Each lesson takes maybe 3 minutes.

At 14.5 months, we are still doing Little Reader once a day or so.  We do picture flash now, because he enjoys it.  After we do one of the pre-set curriculum lessons, Archer always signs more, so I do some categories of words with him.  He likes these and the lessons I made when Xander was little much better. You can download any of the categories I made  for free here. Below is a video of what one of these category lessons looks like.

We will usually do a few different ones and he still usually cries when I cut him off.  Gotta love a kid that loves words!

Part 3: Movies
Both boys have LOVED Your Baby Can Read DVDs.  We started around six month-ish with Archer.  We progressed through levels 1-4 at about a DVD a month, but spent a little longer on DVD 5, because it is a review of all the others.  Recently, we have started him on Your Child Can Read, which he also loves.

I made the huge investment to buy him Tweedlewink DVDS, but he doesn't like them at all.  Maybe someday?? He watches an average of one movie, several days a week, rotating between YBCR, Meet the Sight Words (the first one is free on YouTube), Sparkabilities (now they are free on YouTube), and Your Baby Can Discover. I don't know that any of the reading movies would be enough, in and of themselves, to teach him to read, but they definitely help with the words that are in them.  Plus, they let me cook dinner!

Less Formal Activities
Everything I have described is my organized approach to teaching Archer to read.  However, we also read tons of books, pointing to the words as we read.  I also have lots of books around for him to browse on his own. I try to have some books with large, easy to read words.  We also have sight words readers and the early readers I made.

Please don't take what we have done as a strict outline.  Every baby and every family are different. However, every baby is also capable of learning amazing things! Whatever you try to teach your baby, as long as it is done cheerfully and without pressure, will result in some sort of learning!

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