Can and should babies be taught to read and do maths?

There is a myth that is spread by some teachers. The myth is that it is harmful for parents to teach their children to read. Many teachers seem to have been trained to discourage parents even from letting the eager, curious child teach itself. “That is our job”, they say, insisting that anything the parents do to open the world of knowledge to a child will not be taught “the proper way,” usually meaning whatever way is the latest passing fad or fashion at a particular school.

Many children learn to read quite well long before they get to school. Many children become curious and teach themselves, others need very little encouragement. Quite often by the time they are five, even four, they can already read very well.

Others (the Education Department’s statistics estimate 70%), spend 12 years at school and remain functionally illiterate. SmartBrain’s committed parents and trained facilitators have taught hundreds of babies and pre-school children to read, well before they were sent to school. There exists no evidence of any harm that has resulted from such early reading, nor have we met any parent that has regretted it, nor has any child become bored because of this early developed skill.

Dr Margaret Pollak, a pediatrician at Kings College Hospital, describes the view that only professional teachers can teach reading as absolute nonsense. She advises parents, just as SmartBrain does, to familiarise babies with letters and numbers. There is absolutely no danger, nothing to be lost by constantly exposing an interested child to the experience of written forms and pictures and letting the child learn at its own pace. As long as the child enjoys the game you can continue without any qualms.

To help and guide parents and pre-schools in their efforts, SmartBrain offers a day-to-day programme to teach babies and toddlers to read!

Next: When is the best time to start?