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.

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