Learning to Read 200 Words



Article contributed by: Dr Robert Titzer Ph.D., Creator of Your Baby Can Read


Over the 21+ years that I have been teaching or helping teach babies to read, or the more than 16 years that YBCR has been available, I have communicated with thousands of families where the children learned to read as infants. My writing on these milestones has been influenced by all of these experiences as well as by studies on language acquisition and early reading, but there are no studies specifically on these written language milestones.


The age at which this milestone is met 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 similar to the ones listed in the Feb. 1st post were consistently followed, how much mindless TV was shown to the child as a baby, and many others.


I know from personal experience by teaching and testing babies who have learned to read 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. While there are no studies (that I am aware of) on this milestone, a typical age in the US for reading 200 words would probably be around age 7 or 8 years. Many children who start on YBCR in the early months of life can often read at least 200 words around age two or three. Two weekends ago, I was at a very popular baby show in London. As is usually the case, I met many families where the babies, toddlers, and preschoolers learned to read using YBCR. Included in this group were many babies and toddlers under the age of 36 months who could read more than 200 words. Often, these babies and toddlers have also learned some phonics. (I will write about learning phonics for the next milestone.)


Once your child achieves this milestone of reading 200 words, she or he may be learning new words quickly and may be well on the way to becoming a phonetic reader.


Please note that you do not need to buy YBCR in order to teach your baby to read. I have stated this in TV interviews since the late 1990s as well as in the first Parents’ Guide that I wrote. I hope it is obvious to anyone who knows me very well that informing parents about how they can help their babies and toddlers acquire the written language naturally in the first years of life while their brains have more neuroplasticity is much more important to me than promoting our products. However, as a trained infant researcher and as someone who has more than 20 years of experience teaching babies and toddlers to read, we put a lot of effort into creating products to teach reading to make it easier for the parents and their children. My goal here is to motivate parents who already have the program to use these products as designed – or to make or use similar products – to help their babies and toddlers learn more words.


Here are some ideas to help your child go from reading 50 words to 200 words and beyond:


1) Please use the suggestions from the previous posts about teaching children their first words and their first 50 words. The main difference is that your child may learn the words at a faster pace.


2) Apply the 18 “Guidelines for Acquiring Early Literacy”.


3)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 todifferent libraries on a regular basis and checked out thousands of books over a few years so our family would have a wide variety of books: non-fiction and fiction books on many topics from simple baby books with very few words to graduate books from the Indiana University Geosciences Library. I want to mention that research indicates that reading to a child does not typically teach a child to read once socio-economic factors are controlled because the average 4- or 5-year-old only focuses on words an average of five seconds per book. Babies who use YBCR may look at words more than other children, so reading to the child can help the child learn to read – especially if you follow the next tip.


4) Once your child is reading at least 50 words, you can help your child learn new words from books that don’t have too many words on each page (such as the YBCR lift-the-flap books or the YBCR Mini Sliding Board Books). If there are many words on the same page, enjoy the book without using it to teach reading. Use the following strategies when there are only a few words per page:


A. Point to individual words from left-to-right as you say them a little more slowly than normally.


B. 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.


C. Teach your child to point to the words as you say them.


D. Occasionally, pause and have your child read words some of the words.


E. Eventually, take turns with your child reading words or sentences.


5) Turn off the TV most of the time. Your family will likely read more and communicate with each more. 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, there are studies showing babies can learn from educational DVDs. When a caregiver is busy for five minutes, the 2-year-old still has millions of new synapses forming. Having the baby sit quietly with a toy every time the caregiver is busy for five minutes adds up to a lot of time without much language stimulation in many households. 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 3-month-old baby is thought to have more new language synapses every second than a 3-year-old, it makes sense to provide a language-rich environment very early in life. I am trying my best to get this message out to parents, so they make informed decisions about helping their babies and toddlers develop language skills.


6) Keep it fun for your child and for you while doing the reading activities and word games. 


7) Play the “Fast Words Game” that is described in the “Baby’s First Teacher” instructions.


Play with individual words and with short phrases. Briefly, this is how it is played:


A. Show your child how to play the game by having two people who read well demonstrate.


B. One person flips through a stack of word cards (some of which may have short phrases) as quickly as you possibly can. It helps to 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.


C. The other person says the words or phrases out loud as quickly as possible.


D. Your child should be watching the two better readers having fun and playing the game.


E. Allow your child to play the game using the same words that were just reviewed.


F. Add in new words and help your child when needed.


Once your child can read at least 50 words, then she or he may begin using the Your Child Can Read program (even if your child is still a baby). This series of DVDs is now included in the YBCR Deluxe Kit or it can be purchased separately. Two hundred of the most frequently used words in children’s literature are included in the DVDs. There are more than 1200 words in the series and we focus on phonics and fast reading activities.


9) Babies and toddlers who can already read at least 50 words can benefit from using Closed Captioning on television, if you watch any other programs.


10) 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.


For the next milestone, I will focus on helping your baby/toddler/preschooler learn more phonics. 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. It is 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.


For more details, visit www.yourbabycanread.com.sg


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