By Dr. Bob Titzer
Even if your child is not initially focused on the DVDs, you can use many different strategies to teach your child in a fun, stress-free manner.
- Watch the DVD with your child, say the words appropriately, answer the questions, and do physical actions. In other words, model the behavior that you want your child to learn by participating appropriately. Also, help your baby do the appropriate physical actions (if he/she is in the mood) or touch the appropriate body parts to help increase the learning.
- Please try dimming the lights while your child is watching the videos. This will help your child focus on the screen and not on other objects in the room. It’s similar to being in a dark cinema where we are more easily able to focus our attention on the screen and we pay less attention to our surroundings.
- Remove distractions from the room before playing the videos – like toys and other objects that may hold your child’s attention. Consider removing the distractions well before playing the video so the child is not looking for missing toys.
- Try playing the videos while your baby is seated in a bouncy seat or in a high chair.
- Try playing the video shortly before or after your child sleeps.
- Please do not allow your baby to watch any entertainment-based television. Make television watching a rare occurrence for your baby. See our guidelines for Using TV to Teach (When & How).
- Teach your baby to read using the teaching cards, lift-the-flap books, sliding word cards, or by writing words on whiteboards, Magna Doodles, or on other surfaces. Try using the Guidelines for Acquiring Early Literacy and other tips to teach reading. You can teach your baby to read words in numerous ways and once your baby has learned to read some words your child’s interest in watching the DVDs may increase.
- Allow your baby to watch for five minutes at a time. Try doing physical activities between viewing the videos. Your child will be learning even if he is only able to sit still for short sessions. Don’t start with the first word each time. Start where you left off or jump to the next chapter.
- Many parents have used the following approach to teach their babies to read even though it is not the preferred method. You can leave the television playing the YBCR DVDs while your child is playing or eating. Even if your child is not focused on the DVD, learning is occurring if the child looks and listens part of the time.
- Young infants have many more new language synapses (or new brain connections) forming than children who are age 4 or older. So your baby won’t need to make an intentional effort to learn what the words look like, sound like, or mean. Your baby would be learning something by looking at the word and hearing it even if he/she is also playing with a toy and not focused on the DVD. By 4 months of age, your baby has more new language synapses than children who are age 3 or older. The number of new synapses related to language acquisition will be peaking before 11 months of age, so this is a time when babies are capable of learning new language skills without effort.
- Some parents do physical activities with their babies right before watching the DVDs. You may want to move around outside before or after watching the DVDs, then watch some more when you return.
- If your child can see a monitor while in the car or other locations, this can be a good time to help her learn language skills and it may also be easier to keep her interest.
If you read the longitudinal research on early reading, it can increase your motivation to continue with the program even if you may need to be more creative in trying different strategies. While it may be easier to show entertainment-based TV shows where you don’t care if your child is paying attention, the long-term advantages of learning to read early in life are worth the effort.
Please feel free to ask questions at any time.
Dr. Bob Titzer