Top Myths You Will Hear About Teaching Babies To Read – The Homeschool Edition

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Update: I’m SO excited to share with you guys that this post is an excerpt from a new e-book that is about to be released on how I taught my babies to read! If you’d like to be the first to know, please join my e-mail list!

Don’t you hate pushy advertisements? Those loud commercials that come on TV or websites yelling at you to buy a car or a sofa or whatever TODAY TODAY TODAY?!?!  Yuck! I will avoid those retailers for sure! 

I wonder if people have seen commercials for various baby learning programs and have been turned off completely, thinking these are just another gimmick to relieve loving parents of their hard-earned money.  It’s not the advertisers fault, really; people can’t buy what they don’t know about! But we are tired of wasting our money, aren’t we? We are jaded.

In home school circles, we often talk about letting our children be children, letting them be little, not pushing too hard. Many of us are familiar with books like Better Late Than Early by the wonderful and inspirational Moores.

But what if I told you that I taught two of my babies to read (and some sign language) before they could walk and that:

  • it was easy
  • it was fun
  • there was NO pushing involved
  • my babies were very much normal babies with a wonderful childhood and tons of free play time – in fact, they had MORE free play time as preschoolers because they were already reading!
  • there was NO stress over learning to read.  NONE. There have been other battles, but reading wasn’t one of them.
  • They LOVE to read still – they didn’t “burn out”.

K.L. Wong is the creator of several fun and very sophisticated computer programs to teach babies reading, math, and music over at BrillKids. You’ll probably see the ads on my blog because I am an affiliate, and we own and do highly recommend their products.  K.L. wrote a great post, Common Criticisms of Teaching Babies to Read, on the BrillKids blog.  I won’t try to repeat all that he says, but I promise, you will think, hear, or experience just about all that he lists on that post in your teaching journey.

Top Myths About Teaching Babies to Read: The Homeschool Edition

There are a few arguments that stand out to me, as a home school mom, and I want to talk a little bit about those:

  1. Teaching a tiny baby will take time away from other important developmental activities. When I started teaching my babies, they were not yet sitting up on their own. Unable to move on their own, their explorations were limited to what they could maybe reach or see. So for those few seconds of showing them cards and smiling and connecting, maybe they didn’t chew as much on their toy or fingers. But what did they learn? Not only words, colors, numbers, etc…, but that Mom or Dad loved and valued them.  I really can’t imagine a better use of the time before a baby begins to walk. Redeeming the time…
  2. But can’t they just learn to read at 5 or 6?  Absolutely! And you are not a bad parent, either, if you teach them then! You are an awesome parent! But if you teach them earlier, you can give them several YEARS of independent reading before they even reach school age and get busy with other things.
  3. Babies and young children shouldn’t be forced to endure formal teaching If it’s “formal”, you are doing it WRONG. Organized, yes, but that’s the behind-the-scenes stuff you do, as the teaching parent, between sessions. The teaching session, all 30 seconds or so of it with cards or maybe 5 minutes with BrillBaby, is nothing but fun for your baby, with showers of love. As Dr. Doman so often said, always teach with JOY!
  4.  Babies should learn to read by having books read aloud to them.  There do seem to be some gifted children who DO learn to read this way, and I don’t think anyone in home school circles would argue the importance of reading aloud. But I didn’t have to HOPE my children would turn out gifted – I simply taught them to read as babies. And, yes, we had read aloud time, too. They got the best I knew to offer them!

By the way, BrillKids products and  the Your Baby Can Learn kits by Dr. Bob Titzer aren’t gimmicks. These are powerful additions to your teaching toolkit. MOST so-called baby learning programs, while maybe not harmful, are a waste of money if your intention is to teach your baby to read. Most, and I include some awfully cute TV shows in this,  just aren’t presenting the information in a way that’s easily understandable for babies, according to the methods Dr. Doman taught. I see many that present a word and a photo on one side, the same side, of a flashcard. The problem here is that babies, and probably the rest of us, are more likely to be drawn to the photo first. Babies don’t know that they are “supposed” to look at the words and learn to read – they are just enjoying the attention and entertainment.  Babies will look at the photo of, let’s say a cow, and learn that the photo is a cow, but won’t actually be reading the word “cow”.  BrillKids products and all the Your Baby/Your Child Can Learn products present the word first, followed by an image representing the word, so that the baby can focus on just the word, THEN the photo or video. This method, along with the other steps we used,  worked so well with my children!

Home school families, what questions do YOU have about teaching your tiniest learners? I’d love to hear them! Please comment below or send me an email at if you’d rather keep it a little more private!

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Posted by Lynn Spivey

Lynn Spivey is a veterinarian, Christian homeschool mom, adoption advocate, keeper of WAY too many chickens and goats, and homeschool curriculum junkie. Lynn's life changed when she taught her children to read, and read well, as babies. Through her blog and forthcoming e-book, she shares encouragement and her exact steps, resources, and tips with friends around the world.

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