- Motivation is the most important literacy skill. If your child's not motivated to read, they won't do it... unless they have to. Motivation comes from having fun and meaningful experiences with words, books, and reading. These types of programs always seem to fail in creating meaningful and fun literacy experiences. And when I say "meaningful," I mean that children should be connecting with what they're reading - experiencing it, and understanding it.
- The one source of motivation these kinds of programs seem to provide is the motivation to please the parent. I feel that when reading instruction is introduced too early, often a child learns that reading is something that you do to please your parent, or to gain your parents' approval. Instead, the motivation to read should come from knowing that reading has a purpose (I can learn things when I read), and that it brings one pleasure (I enjoy a good story). (See the book Motivated Minds: How to Raise a Child that Loves Learning for more on this.)
- Programs like these usually leave a bad taste in my mouth because I feel they can encourage parents to view their children as a kind of status symbol (My child can read already, can yours?). It's hard in our day and age not to feel like you're in competition with the rest of the world to have the best and brightest child. We put too much pressure on our children to grow up too quickly, and this seems like yet another product to encourage that.
- What children need is someone to snuggle up with them everyday and read them a good book, or two, or ten! They need you to talk about the story with them, point at the words sometimes, ask them questions, do an activity that relates to the book, etc. Make books and reading come alive for them and they will want to read. They will love to read. And they will learn to read when they're ready.
- Research has shown that children who learn to read early don't necessarily do better in school or have any advantage over children who learn later (at the usual age). In fact, forcing reading instruction too early can sometimes have the exact opposite outcome.
- I like to think of a life of reading as a marathon. Think of "The Tortoise and The Hare." Slow and steady wins the race, right? When formal reading instruction is introduced too early, reading and learning can become a sprint instead...
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