Your Baby Can’t Read

Your Baby Can’t Read

You may have noticed recent news reports about the company behind the “Your Baby Can Read” program being forced to retract the claims about its effectiveness and even refund some of the dollars received from parents who bought into it. While infants can be “trained” to perform some seemingly impressive behaviors, they are not really being “educated” in a meaningful way.

Moreover, they are being kept from engaging in the fascinating, fun, free-form, active play that allows them to have the sort of experiences which will serve as the foundation for developing true literacy later on. Consequently, it may be surprising but it is true that the overwhelming majority of children eventually identified as “gifted” did not learn to read before six or seven years of age.

Unfortunately, products such as this will continue to appear. And as soon as they hit the market, they will become instantly popular. Parents desperately want their children to succeed in school, and they are irresistibly attracted to anything that promises to provide their offspring with a seemingly significant advantage. Without a solid understanding of child development and early education, it is hard for them to see that in the long run, it is likely to be a colossal waste of time and money.

Meanwhile, despite tons of evidence regarding their effectiveness collected over many decades, play-based programs still have to fight for recognition as the right way to go for eventual school success. To many mothers and fathers, it sounds like they are saying “Throw away the broccoli and carrots! What your child needs are Twinkies and hot fudge sundaes!”

So if you have enrolled your child in a play-based program like Romp n’ Roll, you should be congratulated for resisting the temptation of powerful but ultimately empty promises as well as for recognizing that this is where the educational nutrients really are.

Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at