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As parents, we constantly have to make decisions about our children.  Food, clothes, playgroups, vaccinations, medicine, naps, sleep, and so on are all things we have to decide about.  As a parent who is very invested in literacy issues, one issue that presented itself to me has been baby flash cards.  In case you don’t know about this new trend, baby flash cards are supposed to teach your baby to read using both flash cards and DVDs.

My initial thought upon seeing the first commercial with one of these products was that it seemed completely unnecessary.  After all, some of the greatest writers and thinkers throughout history didn’t have the benefit of baby flash cards.  They can’t be that important.  I was curious what an expert might have to say about the subject, so I did a little bit of googling and found an interview with brain development expert Pat Wolfe to shed some light for me.

When asked if flash cards would be beneficial, she replied with the following:

“Actually the opposite is true.  Excessive use of flash cards, workbooks, language tapes and “educational” computer games is not only inappropriate, these games deprive children of the natural interaction with their world so important to development.”

She then goes on:

“Parents need to take the simple approach and read nursery rhymes and books by Dr. Seuss to the child.  They are ideal because they introduce children to sounds that are alike, which is a natural introduction to phonics.”

So it seems that my initial thought not only lines up with an expert in the field, but was actually conservative compared to her thought that the flash cards can be damaging.  Look, if you choose to use flash cards, DVDs, or whatever with your baby, I’m not going to judge you.  What I have done with Rose so far is just read to her.  Let her enjoy the pictures and the way the words sound. So far this has worked to give Rose a serious love of books.  I probably read a book to her about 12-15 times a day, almost always by her request.  At some point, this will transfer over to reading skills, but at this point I’m not worried about forcing that on her.  We’ll have plenty of time for that when she’s 14 and complaining about homework.

To read the full interview go to http://www.beinkandescent.com/articles/265/brain-development-in-the-early-years

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