By Dr. Bob Titzer
The age children meet Milestone 5 varies greatly based on many factors, including the child’s age when written language was introduced, how frequently words were shown, whether or not the “Guidelines for Acquiring Written Language” from Milestone 2 were consistently followed, how much entertainment-based TV was shown to the child as a baby, whether the child was focused on the DVDs, and many others.
I know from a longitudinal case study as well as from meeting families who have used Your Baby Can Read! (YBCR) that it is possible for babies under the age of 12 months to read more than 200 words, but currently this appears to be rare. A typical age in the US for reading 200 words would be around age 7 or 8 years.
Many children who start on YBCR in the early months of life (and who consistently see and hear language together) can read at least 200 words around age 2 or 3. Once your child achieves this milestone, she may be learning new words rapidly and learning some phonics. From this point, the last five milestones don’t usually take long to accomplish for most babies and toddlers, and preschoolers may have already achieved some of them.
My goal here is to motivate parents to help their babies and toddlers learn to read more words.
Here are some tips to help your child go from reading about 50 words to 200 words and beyond:
- Even though your child will probably learn the words at a faster pace now, continue to use the tips from previous Milestones. You just won’t need to repeat the words as many times and you should introduce more new words.
- Apply the Guidelines for Acquiring Early Literacy from Milestone 2.
- Go to libraries and check out at least 100 books a month. As a full-time student with a full-time teaching job, I went to different libraries on a regular basis and checked out thousands of books over a few years so our family would have a wider selection of books. Types of books to borrow include a variety of non-fiction and fiction – from baby books with very few words to very difficult chapter books.
NOTE: Reading books with your child is great to develop a love of stories and books and it boosts vocabulary. But traditional approaches of reading to a child do not teach reading. This may be because the average 3-, 4- or 5-year-old focuses on text less than 4% of the time during book reading. 1 However, babies who use YBCR may look at words in books more than other children, so reading to the child can help him learn to read – especially if you follow the next tip.
- Once your child is reading at least 50 words, help her learn new words from books that have only a few words on each page (such as the YBCR Lift-the-Flap Books or the YBCR Mini Sliding Board Books). If a book has many words on each page, then enjoy it without using it to teach reading. Try these strategies with books that have a few words per page:
- Point to individual words from left-to-right as you say them a little more slowly than normal.
- If your child can read most of the words in the sentence, then you can read it at a normal pace and slide your finger from left-to-right under the sentence as you say it.
- Teach your child to point to the words as you say them.
- Occasionally, pause and have your child read some of the words.
- Eventually, take turns with your child reading words or sentences.
- Turn off the TV most of the time. Your family will likely read and communicate more with one another. However, sometimes the caregiver is unable to interact with the baby. This is a great time to show your baby words using the YBCR DVDs.
Many parents may think that any television is bad for babies because of the media reports that were based on studies that had babies watching soap operas, sporting events, the news, cartoons, or other entertainment-based shows. The television can actually provide a multi-sensory learning opportunity – if the content is chosen carefully – especially if it used sparingly.
Some infant researchers use videos to teach or test babies in their experiments. Additionally, studies show that babies can learn from our multi-sensory, interactive DVDs. When you are busy for five minutes, your baby still has millions of new synapses, or brain connections, forming in that time. If your baby is sitting quietly with a toy every time you are busy, no matter how brief, this could become a lot of time without much language stimulation.
One reason that I made the reading videos for my own babies was because I wanted them to have multi-sensory, interactive language stimulation while I (or any other caregiver) was busy. Since a 4-month-old baby has more new language synapses developing every second than a 4-year-old, it makes sense to provide a language-rich environment very early in life – even while you are busy.
- Keep it fun for you and your child while doing reading activities and word games.
- Play the “Fast Words Game” described in the “Baby’s First Teacher” instructions, using individual words and short phrases. Show your child how to play the game by demonstrating it.
- One person flips through a stack of word cards (some of which may have short phrases) as quickly as you possibly can.
- The other person says the words or phrases out loud as quickly as possible. Try to go so quickly that the adults are challenged with either moving the cards quickly or saying the words quickly.
- Occasionally flip back and forth between two words, such as “clap/waving/clap/waving/clap” so the child sees and hears the same words over and over in a short period of time.
- Your child should be watching the two better readers having fun playing the game.
- Allow your child to play the game using the same words that were just reviewed.
- Add in a few new words and help your child when needed.
- Once your child can read at least 50 words, then he may begin using the Your CHILD Can Read program. This series of DVDs is now part of the YBCR Deluxe Kit or it can be purchased separately. The DVDs include the 200 most-frequently used words in children’s literature. More than 1200 words are in the series and we focus on phonics and fast reading activities.
- Babies and toddlers who can read at least 50 words may benefit from using closed captioning on television, if you watch any other programs.
- Other videos with songs and many words may be used to teach new words once your child has figured out how to learn written language. For example, I used the Lyric Language videos in several languages to help my babies learn to read in other languages. (These are now called Your Baby Can Speak! and they are available in German and Spanish.) You may find similar second language videos at the library.
We at the Infant Learning Company sincerely thank you for all of your comments and videos. Please continue to let people know how your child is doing. Tell us about your child’s progress on our Facebook page or submit your testimonial for publication here on our Early Learning Website. It’s helpful if you include your child’s current age, how long you have been showing your child written language, which milestones have been met, and any details about your experience.
The next milestone will focus on helping your child read sentences.
Dr. Bob Titzer
1 Evans, M.A., Williamson, K., & Pursoo, T. (2008). Preschoolers’ Attention to Print During Shared Book Reading, Scientific Studies of Reading, 12(1), 106–129.
2 Individual results will vary. Typical results of using YBCR are that babies and toddlers who consistently use YBCR for at least 6 months learn to read some words and they learn vocabulary skills from using the program.