Early Learning Revolution
Early Learning Revolution
Did you know there are programs on the market that help parents of babies, toddlers and preschoolers learn to read, do math? You know what else? If you do the programs right they work too! Some programs worth mentioning are How to Teach Your Baby to Read, BrillKids Little Reader, Your Baby Can Learn(formally known as Your Baby Can Read, MonkiSee, Tweedlewinks, etc.
What does this have to do with children with autism?
The man who helped create the original “How To Teach Your Baby to Read Program”, Glenn Doman, who inspired the more recent programs, did not come to his discovery teaching typical children. No, he learned it by working with brain injured children. Brain injured children was a term coined by Doman. It described children with conditions that prevent a child to develop both mentally and physically. For example, autism, cerebral palsy, ADHD and Down’s Syndrome just to name a few.
He discovered that the brain injured children they had in their therapy program could learn to read, do math, and learn encyclopedic knowledge. Not only was this baffling to him and the staff at the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential, the thing that really got him was the fact when taught using their flashcard method, they were learning more than the typical child using the typical education system. So they started to offer programs for typical children as well.
Early Founders of Early Childhood Literacy
The early founders of early childhood literacy, found that children can learn to read the same way they learn to speak another language. If you present written language in a font large enough for a child to see, they can and will learn to read it. This is because their right brain is open and ready to absorb information.
Commercial Marketing is Doing The Same Thing. And NOT With Your Child’s Best Interest in Mind
Just think, when a child is exposed to a sign like McDonalds, they will learn to read it at an early age. Why? Because the people who market these brands make sure their ads are written with large bold print that is easy for people to see.
They do everything in their power to expose people to these ads, for example on TV, billboards and in magazines. Its not unusual for a young child to be able to read the words McDonalds, Toys R Us, Walmart, etc. So why not teach them other words that can give them a head start in their education?
How Does It Work?
Basically to teach reading to a child as young as 3-6 months, mom and dad would create large flashcards. They could also purchase a kit like above, but eventually they would need to start making them too. These flash cards have words written in bold red marker. Then then they would sit the child down, eliminated all distractions and in a fun way say. “I’m going to show you some fun words!” You would then show baby the first word(perhaps it says baby) “This says baby.” This you would quickly flash and say the pile of words you have prepared, spending no more then 1 second per flashcard.
Now this process can also be done with toddlers and preschoolers. And if your child is special needs, their right brains tend to be open longer.
The important things to remember are:
- Never force your child to sit through a reading lesson
- Stop before your before your child wants to stop
- Never run a reading session when either you or your baby are not in a great mood or feeling well.
- Never test your child. Think of teaching your child to read as a gift, don’t ask for anything in return. (There are ways to make games though. Which allow you to see what your child is learning without the pressures of testing.)
Using Technology to Make It Easier
The creators of MonkiSee and Little Reader are both parents who have taught their children to read using the ideas founded by Glenn Doman, but presented it using media. Glenn Doman recommends a parent create 200 word cards before even starting the program, and they must keep creating new materials to keep up with their child. Sometimes a child will gobble up MANY words in one sitting, and if you are going to keep things fresh and interesting you must be ready with NEW materials. This can be time consuming for the average parent, especially if you work outside the home.
When I Found Glenn Doman’s Method
Personally I found out about Glenn Doman’s book, “How to Teach Your Baby to Read” when my son was 20 months. But besides the Your Baby Can Read DVD’s there was little support for me available. I tried to make the card to spec, and gave up because a) it was costly, b) I was a single mom who worked full time, c) In my mind I thought I had to run the program exactly how the book says and due to time constraints could not. It wasn’t until my son had just turned 4 that I got introduced to the forum Brillkids. Here was a group of 20,000 like minded parents trying to teach their typical and special needs children to read, do math, learn encyclopedic knowledge, play an instrument, etc.
Why BrillKids Helped Us
The creator of BrillKids, KL Wong, has also created a software system for both math(Little Math) and reading(Little Reader), complete with a 12 month curriculum. This is a life saver for busy parents because it allows them to spend the time they have with their child learning. Not worry about when they will be able to create the next 200 word or phrase cards. Some parents like me, never started because they could not get the initial 200 word cards together, plus the schedule in order to present them was so complicated and really for a working, single mom was flat out impossible. Little Reader and Little Math suggest you run 2 sessions each a day.
Now since my son was four I decided to only do Little Reader. Looking back I should have run both. I thought that once children pass the age of 3, they could no longer learn math using Doman’s method. I later found out that this method can still be effective for children with a disability like autism passed this age.
So our daily reading lesson plan while I was still working full time was as followed:
- Watch “Your Baby Can Read” while eating breakfast
- Index card flashcards in my purse that I would pull out and flash for him while stuck in traffic, or just before I got him out of the car to go into daycare. (I could use smaller cards then specified by Doman because my son was older and his eyes were developed enough to read them)
- Little Reader session and flashcards before dinner
- Bedtime stories and Little Reader session before bed.
If life was crazy and I couldn’t get the Little Reader session in before supper, like if we went out for supper or my son was with his dad, I would just run two sessions before bed.
The great thing about this program is the fact that it is also customizable. You can create your own presentations, personalize the presentations to use your voice or other family members to make it special for your child. There is also a place on the BrillKids website where you can upload your presentations to share and download presentations others have made.
Is teaching your child with special needs to read important?
Teaching your child with special need is important because according to Glenn Doman, the brain grows with use. It is like any other muscle in the body. If you don’t use your legs, the muscles become weak and feeble. If your run a mile a day, your legs will becomes strong and muscular.
With my son, the more he learned the read, the more is vocal language started coming out. And when he got older and learned the concept of phonics, he was able to learn how to pronounce words properly by seeing them written out and sounding them out.
Never Underestimate Children With Special Needs
When people look at a child with a disability like autism, society tends to underestimate them. I found by setting the bar high and believing in my son, he has been able to achieve things no one ever imagined possible. I did not wait for his speech to catch up before teaching him to read. By doing this I discovered that teaching him to read was actually an effective way to teach him to speak.
The bonus to this was he is actually ahead of his peers when it comes to reading. And while he still is slightly behind his peers in speech. Can you image where he would be if I had not introduced reading so young? Likely further behind in speech and unable to read. His confidence would be completely lacking.