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Monday, November 30, 2015

YOUR BABY CAN’T READ - a cranky re-run

A dumb commercial a few years back set off this rant, the commercial is gone, the rant may still be valid.  It is from November 2011
Parents have an obsession with making their children the best that they can be.  Pregnant women play classical music to their developing embryo in an attempt to give their child-to-be a head start in music ability and appreciation.  Every toy sold to children from new born to teen has some educational/developmental aspect.  Colors, numbers, letters, words, animals, sounds, textures, every toy tries to disguise learning with play.  When children do not use the toy for its intended educational purpose, parents jump right in to demonstrate the correct way to play and learn.

Children today have tutors to teach them to read before they reach kindergarten.   Children are taught karate and other martial arts in the name of self-esteem and self defense before they go to school.  Parents send their young athletes to sports trainers and sports facilities to gain an advantage over their budding young competition.  Parents today are panicked that they will not help their children to develop to their fullest potential.          

Parents please……RE-FUCKING-LAX!!

Your child will learn to read when he is good and ready.  She will be a natural athlete if she was born a natural athlete.  Your little genius will be a math whiz and will invent world altering stuff without your constant prodding and fretting their whole life.

If they ask for help, if they show an unusual talent, if they exhibit an aptitude in a given direction, help them.  Get them lessons.  Buy that guitar.  Embrace their talents, give them opportunities to grow in many directions, but don’t force them to do or learn stuff in competition with your niece, the kids around the block, or the children of the braggadocios annoying lady at church. 

Your children will find their niche.  Water will always seek its own level.  When pushed, children will drag their feet, they will shut down, and they will burn out. 

Given encouragement and a little help children will thrive.  You cannot hide genius.  If you locked a five year old Beethoven in a closet with a spoon, twelve glasses and a bottle of water he would emerge with a symphony.

What started this tirade was a commercial I have been seeing on late night TV.  It is the “Your Baby Can Read” commercial.  This scam asserts that with their flash cards and constant prodding you can teach a one or two year old child to read.  The ad shows dozens of kids all under three reading from the flash cards.  These children are reading, smiling, and laughing and the parents are beaming.  I knew this ad was bull crap when one of the two year olds read, with perfect word use inflection, the word “OUTSTANDING.” PAALEEZE!!

Your baby can be taught to mimic a word on a flash card.  Your baby CAN’T read. 

My dog can bark, roll over and play dead on command. 

Your baby CAN’T read.

You can guide your children, you can’t mold them.  They will learn to do shit when they are ready.  They need to build muscles and coordination in order to walk.  They need to learn sounds and experiment with them in order to talk.  They do these things on their own schedule.  You can retard growth; you cannot speed it up.  Children need tools, direction, and encouragement and they will learn.

You can spend your day with flash cards, videos, and books.  You can knock yourself out for months 24/7 with these flash cards.  Your baby may learn to say “Outstanding” when she sees that card.  She will say it with the exact inflection as you say it to her.  My Parrot can do the same thing.  My parrot can’t read.

Your baby CAN’T read!    


  1. By the standards of these pushy parents, I was probably the laziest mum out there. I cleaned the house and clothes, cooked the food and produced four kids who I played with occasionally. The rest of the time, they were left with their toys and each other, while I indulged my own passion. Reading. I didn't neglect them, I was there if they needed me, but I let them learn things by themselves. Maybe a little gentle encouragement from me. Pass me the RED pen, wear your BLUE jumper, choose TWO books for bedtime, that sort of thing.

  2. Excellent post. I think my son is a genius to have learned all he did without a word from me. OK maybe there were a few words but all the learning was on his side.

  3. Yes. My kids learned when they were ready. They were given group music lessons that were lots of fun and games, called Kindermusic. It was less a lesson and more just having fun exploring music and rhythm and instruments.

    When they got older, they did piano lessons, and were in sports, but only what they wanted and not in huge leagues where they were pressured to perform. We were in AWANA club, too. No, i did not schedule something every day, most evenings we were at home.

    At homeschool co-op, they got art and acting and cooking classes, their choices.

    Give them opportunities to try things out. If they like it and want to keep going, great! If it's not for them, let them try something else. Give them time to play and discover.

    They will learn to read when their minds are ready. You can't force a rose to bloom by prying it open, you can't force children to bloom, either.

  4. I DISagree. My parents DIDN'T push me or try to direct me one way or the other, and look how I turned out. ;)

  5. You remind me of a story about our oldest daughter. I remember reading something or other about how kids are really good at memorizing stuff, so when she was two-and-a-half or so, I decided to see if I could get her to memorize the Nicene Creed, so she could say it with her Mom and me at Mass. And she did. We got some really surprised looks when I would hoist her up onto the back of the pew in front of us, and she would recite the creed, very loudly, in her squeaky little two-year-old voice. Of course, she understood hardly anything of what she was saying, but she could deliver the lines flawlessly.

    At around the same age, she had a favorite story (from one of the Little Bear books by Else Minarik), and she would demand Jenn read it to her over and over, multiple times a day; she just loved that story. We weren't trying to get her to memorize it, but she did, all on her own. right down to the page turns. So one day, Jenn's mom was visiting us, and 1F grabbed her book and climbed up on Grandma's lap, announcing, "I'm going to read to you." So she found the story she wanted, recited the first two pages flawlessly, turned the page at the right point, recited the next two pages, turned the page, and so on, until she had recited the entire story. And Jenn's mom was just looking at her, like, where did this kid come from. Again, she couldn't read a lick, but she memorized the whole thing, right down to the page turns. . . Pretty cool, actually. . .

  6. I keep wondering when the pendulum is going to swing back in the other direction to where parents ignore their children and everyone turns out fine...LOL

  7. Jean Piaget was saying this in the 40's, his theory of cognitive development in stages related, but not governed exclusively, by age. I think there is also a difference between making something available to the child and pushing them when they don't show interest.

  8. And some parents put way too much pressure on their kids. They will indeed do what they want when they want. It's the way of things and it is as it should be.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

  9. When my daughter Nameless was very young (no more than 4) she was in a car with my mom & dad. She seemed to be reading aloud the names of streets & stores as they passed by them. They assumed she had memorized them. They realized she was actually reading when they got on the freeway. The sign said “SAN DIEGO FWY” & that’s exactly what she read—pronouncing it “San Diego Fwee”.

    1. See they can't read, that should be "San Diego Fway."

  10. Amen! And the crazy moms who confront you in the grocery store and demand to know, "How OLD is she? Isn't she walking yet? Potty trained? Mine is!" Chill out, crazy woman - they will BOTH be WALKING into Kindergarten on their first day of school - potty trained, too. Sheesh!

  11. I think I learned to read (somewhat) before I started school at age 6 (no kindergarten in those days.) But it was from my parents reading to me while I sat on their laps. They weren't trying to teach me to read, I just picked it up.

  12. So many kids are turned off to things like art and music because of over aggressive parents pushing them into things they aren't ready for.

  13. Agree with you 100%. And similar to Craig's story, I'm reminded of the time when my youngest son (around 2 years old at the time) was being babysat by my in-laws while I went to college. They took him everywhere around town, and they were surprised when he pointed to a business and said, "That's a liquor store!" And a few miles down the road, again: "There's a liquor store!" Same thing the next week, on the other side of town, youngest son pointed out the liquor store. So his grandparents casually commented that he certainly knew all the liquor stores around come? "My mom," he said, "likes to go to liquor stores."

    So one day, my in-laws very quietly and gingerly mentioned this to me. "Oh yes," I said, "they have the best boxes for packing dishes!" Because - you know - we were getting ready to move....

  14. My kids were sort of raised by cartoons. And I don't mean me and my husband. I did not limit TV. I watched it with them. The Big Comfy Couch. Arthur. Blue's Clues. Thomas the Tank Engine. Rugrats. Hey, Arnold. CatDog. Jimmy Neutron. The Fairly Odd Parents. Little Bear. And of course the classics: Loony Tunes and Tom & Jerry.

    We all had a good time. And they kind of turned out all right.

  15. A fine rant. I also have trouble seeing parents not allow their kidlets to breath. They have school.. and lessons.. and dance.. and sports.. and something to fill up all of their free time.. with "learning." Play is a learning experience.. everything is when they're young. They don't need it to be structured.

  16. I agree with everything you are saying. Let them be kids! At the same time, if they enjoy it and want to zoom ahead, let them. My six year old grandson astonished me when we pulled into a gas station and he started reading all the information panels on the pump without even hesitating over three and four syllable words.