New study: Babies can’t learn to read, they don’t understand

learn to read

Multiple products have been released that claim your child can learn to read as an infant or toddler.  But research shows that this simply is not true. The Daily Journal has more:

“Read to your baby, sing and play games. But don’t waste money on programs that claim to teach infants to read, a new study suggests.

Researchers who explored this new twist on early learning effectively closed the book on the subject: “These children do not have the developmental capacity to learn how to read,” said Susan Neuman, the study’s lead author.

“They don’t understand that something on screen is representative of something in real life,” said Neuman, chairwoman of the teaching and learning department at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

Babies cannot read, agreed Frank Manis, a professor of psychology and education at the University of Southern California who studies reading and is familiar with the new research.

“(Babies) generally don’t understand narratives or stories until the age of 3 to 4,” he said, and they don’t acquire the skills to translate printed words into verbal words until the age of 4 or 5. “This means that children don’t generally learn to read simple books on their own with adequate understanding until the age of 5 to 6 years at the earliest,” Manis said.

Nevertheless, media companies have created a range of products that claim to teach babies as young as 3 months to read.

In the new study, published March 6 in the Journal of Educational Psychology, researchers randomly assigned 61 of 117 infants to a program called Your Baby Can Read, which included DVDs, flashcards and word books, for seven months. The babies were 9 to 18 months old. The other 56 infants didn’t do anything special.

When the researchers followed up, no differences between the two groups were apparent. As the study put it: “Results indicated that babies did not learn to read using baby media, despite some parents displaying great confidence in the program’s effectiveness.”
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RELATED: How do I know if My Child is Ready to Read?

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