Category Archives: My experiences

How Much TV Should Babies Watch

TV and babies is a very controversial issue.  Some people are totally against babies watching television.  Some parents love the moments of peace it can give them to accomplish certain tasks, like showering or cooking.  I have to say I am in the middle.  I personally hate mindless television viewing for any of my children.  I don’t believe, however, that television viewing, in controlled amounts, has any negative effects on babies.  I have allowed my children to watch television in the form of educational videos beginning at a few months old.  My oldest, now 13 years old, has not suffered in any way from watching television as a baby.  Neither have my other 5 children.

When I need to get something done and cannot entertain the baby myself, I opt for one of my favorite educational videos.  I feel good knowing that the baby is taken care of for 30 minutes, enjoying something that will teach them something.  They are not screaming their head off in a playpen somewhere, but learning something and enjoying the process.
I actually had a routine for my son.  He would watch a video each morning.  He looked forward to this and I knew that I would be nearby, cooking or doing some other household chore.  If necessary, my children would view two educational videos a day, totaling one hour of television per day.
My son, now 4 years old, still enjoys watching television.  Although he watched TV daily as a baby, he does not watch it every day anymore.  He occupies himself with other activities.  He may watch television maybe three days a week.  As a family, we rarely watch television, there are so many other things to do.  We do enjoy watching a concert or a movie together on a weekly basis.
Television, in controlled amounts of quality programming, can be a powerful tool for parents of small children. 

Teaching Your Baby Colors

You can begin teaching your baby colors right from birth.  As you discuss things with your baby, always describe colors.  This way your baby will naturally know colors.  For example, if you are folding laundry, tell your baby that this is a green shirt and these are black pants. Describe the colors in your baby’s toys, the colors in books, and colors in your baby’s environment.  

I played a game with some colored blocks when my baby was 10 months old.  I would ask her to get me the green block or the blue block. She would correctly choose the colors that were asked for, demonstrating that she understood what I was asking and that she could differentiate between the different colors.

Encourage Your Baby to Read

A fun way to encourage your baby to read is to purposely make a mistake when reading a favorite story or singing a favorite song.  When you get to a word that your child knows, goof it up and then ask them to help you so you can read it correctly.  It is a light and fun way to get silly while teaching your baby to read.  Be sure to tell your baby that you don’t know what is wrong.  You are having trouble and mixing up the words and that you need their help to get it right.  Children love to play games.  Make it fun and they won’t be able to get enough. 

Don’t talk baby talk

When talking to babies, be sure to avoid using baby talk at all costs.  Baby talk is when you speak words that are not clear and concise.  For example, instead of saying, “Does my baby want a bottle?”  baby talk would sound something like this, “Me baby wan baba?”  Your baby is working very hard to make sense of the language he hears.  It is of the highest importance that you help him along by speaking properly and giving him something to work with.  When you use baby talk, it is like teaching your baby a foreign language that will be useless later in life.

Strive to speak clearly and slowly.  Most parents naturally adopt this style of speaking to their babies.  It is referred to as parentese. Parentese means child-directed speech.  When parents are talking to their babies they tend to use a slower, higher pitched voice.  This is how babies need to be spoken to in order to thrive in their language development.  Don’t hesitate to use big words either.  Your baby has the ability to easily learn vocabulary through exposure from birth to five years old.  Provide a rich language environment and you will have a child rich in vocabulary.

Developing a routine

When we set out to do anything in life, it is important to be organized.  Unless we have a plan, we can plan to fail.  This is very true in regards to teaching your baby.  Before getting started on a program, you must take some time to plan ahead and organize your materials. If you are using Monki See Monki Doo videos, choose a time that you can consistently show the videos to your baby each day.  Mornings are a great time to do your reading program, because babies are generally happy when they wake up, or right after a nap.

If you are teaching your baby to read with flash cards, select one or more locations that you frequent daily and place your materials there. This way you are always ready.  I found that to be consistent with my children, I could show the materials regularly after a diaper change. I kept my materials handy and we would take between 30 seconds and a few minutes after each change to look at materials.  This allowed us to have regularity in our program, which is the key to a successful program.
You can also take advantage of feeding times in the highchair and even bath time.  If you incorporate all three of these locations, you will definitely be getting in at least 3 sessions each day, which is what you should aim for.  You can switch out your materials each week, so you know when you started.  I used to bring out new materials on Sundays and we would view them all week.  This was an easy, no brainer  way to keep track of what we were doing.

How much can a baby understand?

The other day I posted that my 2 year old daughter read the word luminous from the tube of toothpaste.  I may have shown her the word a total of 5 times.  Each time I showed her the word, I told her that luminous means shiny.  I figure she might as well understand the word, she may want to use it at some point in her life.  Does she really understand what I mean when I tell her this?  I don’t know, but being a born teacher, I am always looking for the lesson in each experience.

Two nights later I received my answer.  I sat her on the counter to brush her teeth.  She picks up the toothpaste and starts talking to her self.  She is reading the word Colgate and then she reads the word luminous.  So I ask her, “Gabriella, what does luminous mean?”  And matter-of-factly she says, “Shiny.”  and that was that.  She can read the word, and she understands it.  Babies are that adaptable, they can learn anything we teach them.  They don’t look at anything as too difficult to learn.  They actually are attracted to the things that are the most difficult.  Babies love a challenge and they love to prove that they are extremely capable.

When Teaching Babies to Read Clicks

I have noticed in my experience teaching babies to read that there comes a point where reading and words just make sense.  It is like this little light bulb goes off in their heads and they just get it.  When this happens, this is a major breakthrough for your child.  This is a fabulous place to be.  Having been exposed to many words, they suddenly have a grasp of phonics and what sounds the letters make. They may not be sounding out new words on their own at this point, but they are able to learn new words very quickly.  After showing your baby a word two or three times, they will master them.  This is an opportune time to start introducing couplets, phrases and sentences.  Don’t worry about going to fast.  Don’t worry about showing them words they have never seen.  Just keep reading with your baby.  Your baby will let you know if your are going too fast.  You can never fail if you follow your baby’s lead.

Getting the momentum going

In my experience teaching babies to read, I have noticed it takes a bit of time to get into the groove.  By that I mean making reading a part of life, not a specific, designated time that we choose to teach our babies to read.  Setting time aside is great.  It is necessary to get started.  It doesn’t take much time, but it requires seeing new words.

Today I printed out the free Around the House flash cards available at www.monkisee.com.  I taped them up and plan to point them out to my little when whenever they cross our path.  This makes it so easy to incorporate reading into our lives.
Last night when I was brushing her teeth my 2 year old read the word “luminous” to me from the tube of toothpaste.  She then read the word “Colgate” which she has been reading for some time now.
This morning we were making some tea and she read the word “Publix” on the tea bag.  While we were waiting for the water to boil I was looking around the kitchen to see what other words we could easily read.  That is what led me to label the house for about the 4th time since I’ve had children.  It is a great way to teach baby to read a bunch of new words.

My baby read her first sentence

Last night I as I was taking my baby to change her diaper, we stopped to read some sentence cards that are in her room.  I have a pocket wall chart with about 8-10 sentences that we are working on.  We read them several times throughout the day as we are in and out of her bedroom.  Gabriella just turned two years old.  We have been reading together since she was 3 months old, however she has not been as open about sharing what she has learned as my son was.  She really enjoys reading with me.  We play games and look at books and flash cards together.  She just isn’t a little showoff, telling me all the words she knows.

Well I am holding her in my arms and I point to a sentence and ask her what it says.  She clearly and perfectly says, “I like to have tea parties.”  That was it.  She spoke each word as it was pointed to, perfectly!  I was ecstatic!  What a moment!  My baby just read me her first sentence.  It was incredible.  I tried to have her repeat it and get it on film but at that precise moment my husband turned on an Imax movie and that was the end of that.  She was on to the next thing.  Maybe someday she will let me catch her in the act with my camera, but so far we have been unsuccessful.

Right or Left?

When my 5th child was but a wee small baby, I started to identify his right from his left.  As I put on his pants I would ask for his right leg or his left leg.  We would do this with his feet when putting on shoes.  At bath time I would identify his body parts as we washed up and then identify what was the right and what was the left.  When he was 2 years old (or younger), he could easily point to his left cheek, his right elbow, his right knee, etc…  This was a very natural way to teach him these things.  I did not do this with my older children, and they are much slower at identifying left from right when I ask them.  When we teach things to our children as babies, we are wiring their brains to think more efficiently.