Thursday, April 14, 2011

Your Baby Can't Read

Have you guys seen the infomercial for "Your Baby Can Read"? It's this program that promises it can teach your baby to read with videos and flashcards. The creator of YBCR says his daughter started reading at nine months and by three years of age she read better than the college students he taught. It sounds ridiculous until you watch the infomercial and see these one and two year-olds reading books. Then it's like, I need that. It's really not hard to sell me anything so I bought the YBCR program when Jojo was four months old. They tell you the sooner you start, the better. And four months is a tough age. Jojo couldn't sit up or roll over yet. She wasn't going anywhere unless I carried her and she was just too young for most of the toys we had. So we found ourselves really bored most days. I figured YBCR would be a good way for us to play together and, of course, to get a head start on Jojo's education.  So I shelled out the $250 (yes you read that correctly) to get this miracle program.

YBCR sucks. Here's why. The program consists of a bunch of videos, flashcards and books. The videos are the key product here (you can buy flashcards anywhere and the books are just gloried versions of the flashcards but the videos are custom for YBCR). You're supposed to put your baby to watch the videos while using the flashcards and then following up some more with the books daily. I forget how long this is supposed to all take but it's roughly about an hour a day with the videos. Think about that. An hour a day watching videos with a four month old (or nine month old or one year old or what have you). Let's set aside for a moment the length of time (I'll get to that in a bit). But what would you expect of a video that's supposed to capture and hold a baby's attention for an hour? I know you've all seen Sesame Street or Barney. Think bright, bold, energetic, over-the-top characters. Vivid colors. Short segments and catchy music. Yeahhhhh, YBCR has none of that.  They are the most boring children's videos ever made. I could've shot them in my house with my own camera. I'm serious. But don't take my word for it--I couldn't get Jojo to even look at the tv. The first time we tried it, I placed her in her favorite little bouncy chair smack in the middle of our living room, in front of our 60 inch tv, and she looked at everything but the tv. To put this in a little bit of context, Jojo loves tv. If there's a tv on, she'll watch it.  Generally, I don't let her (some Sesame Street here and there) but if she could watch tv all day, she probably would. (She's so my and Alex's daughter).  

The second time we tried YBCR Jojo had the same response--total boredom. Thank God for return policies. I shipped YBCR back after a week. Not just because Jojo wasn't interested though. I mentioned that YBCR requires at least an hour a day in front of the tv. That bothered me. To me, it doesn't make sense that in order to teach Jojo to read, she has to watch tv. And that's a lot of tv. Also, the videos basically consist of this: flashing and saying a word on screen (like, Arm), depicting the word (little girl points to her arm), and then flashing the word again. Ummm, why can't I do that on my own? For a few bucks I can buy some index cards, make my own flashcards, and show Jojo my arm.

Anyway, the point of this is that the Today show just had a story on about how YBCR is a total scam. A prominent watch dog group (the same group that forced the Baby Einstein folks to drop their claims that BE videos have education value) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission claiming that YBCR will not teach kids to read (at best it will teach memorization, hence the kids "reading" on the infomercial) and that the program preys on parents (like me) who think they're getting a leg up on their children's education.  The complaint also alleges that YBCR gets kids hooked on tv too young. All sort of the reasons why I chose not to do YBCR. It just sounded too good to be true and I guess it really is. Too bad, it would've been cool if Jojo could've read the menu at Friday's or something.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My house is a landmine

Yesterday I realized it's high time I baby-proofed my house. Up until now I haven't really thought about it because Jojo has been pretty stationary in the crawling department. She loves to walk (assisted) and pull herself up on furniture but she hasn't been crawling around the house. She does this funny army crawl, it sort of looks like that dance, the worm. In a few weeks I have no doubt she'll be doing the real crawl. As it is, last night I realized I cannot leave her alone anymore because she's mobile enough to get into things.

So I took a break from writing this to play with Jojo who just woke up from her nap....and she started crawling!!!! O.M.G. Like, real deal crawling--up on all fours, moving her arms and legs together and moving from one end of our playmat to the other. Holy shit! It just amazes me, how these little human beings have that instinct to just do. They sit up, they talk, they walk, and it's nothing we teach them. Sure, we encourage them and set up the optimal environments for that to happen but the development occurs absent from us. I certainly didn't teach her how to sit up or stand. The light bulb just clicked and she did it.  I can't believe she's crawling! When did she figure that out? During her nap? This morning she couldn't do it and now she can. Amazing! I wish us grown-ups still learned like that. Like, maybe I could try playing the piano tonight and by Friday I'd be a pro.

Okay so now I really need to baby proof the house. I saw on Bethenny Getting Married (which is where I get all my most pertinent baby info) that she had a professional babyproofer come in and examine her house (must be nice. But also, ridiculous). Anyhoo, the woman made Bethenny get down to baby level so she could see what a baby would see. Turns out, her apartment was a total danger zone. I just checked and my house is too. I think I need to get rid of all my furniture and pad my floors in gymnastic mats. More realistically, I guess I need outlet covers, foam padding for around my coffee and end tables, gates, cabinet lock thingies, toilet lock thingies, furniture straps for our book shelves...and what else? I don't have carpeting in my house, only wood floor and tiles so I'm worried about her falling and knocking her head. Is a helmet out of the question? Kidding. Sort of. I need to get myself to Babies R Us stat because Jojo.Is.Crawling.

Oh and she says Mama now too. She started that about a week ago. It's music to my ears. Wow, crawling and saying Mama. My little genius. I wonder what she'll do next week. Maybe take the bar exam. Run a marathon. The possibilities are endless.