As we continue our discussion on PBS children's programming, I wanted to share my own personal experience with teaching my kids to read. I'm one of "those" moms. I get excited about education, and sometimes a little overboard. Don't worry, we try to have balance and teach the kids to have fun and live life and all that...but yeah, we also try to subtly work educational stuff into lots of things we do.
Teaching my kids to read was something I really wanted to do myself. I wanted to be the one to share that experience with them. I used the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with all three of my kids, and they all learned to read at 3 years old. I know that sounds like a horrible "mommy brag," but I really just want to illustrate how effective I think the book is. Kids learn at their own levels, and parents teach kids all kinds of different valuable things which may or may not include reading at a young age and that's fine. I've even heard some experts say that it's not good to teach kids to read that young. For our family, though, it was great. We had fun doing it. I felt that it gave my kids a step up by giving them confidence and early love of reading. The method in the book worked unbelievably well for my kids, and it only took 15-20 minutes a day. Although, I did have to do several things to make the experience more interesting for my oldest as she did not appreciate the hardcore style of the book.
She did, however, love the PBS show Between the Lions. I would let her watch the show as a reward for finishing the lessons, and the show did a great job at reinforcing the reading skills I was trying to teach her. With my younger kids, I did the same thing with the show Super Why -- another fabulous PBS show directed at helping kids learn early literacy skills. These shows made reading even more fun for my kids, and I saw frequent evidence that the shows were effective in helping those early reading concepts sink in.
More importantly, research has shown that these shows are helping to prepare children for school who might not have a parent at home to teach them to read, or who aren't able to attend preschool. At least these kids have access to something. The PBS website states that kids who watched Super Why scored 46% Higher on standardized tests. My experience with backs up this and other research I've read on the effectiveness of PBS shows for kids.
A solid foundation for success is a wonderful gift to give a child, and one that I wish every child in the world could have. At least, for those kids who have nothing else, shows like Sesame Street and Super Why give them something. I know I'm starting to sound like a commercial for PBS here, but I think it's important to shed a little light on what PBS children's programming really accomplishes, and I share my experience as an anecdotal example. I also feel strongly about education in general, and this is an education issue in my opinion.
More Early Literacy Media Resources:
- The PBS KIDS website has fantastic games, videos and more that extend the fun curriculum of the shows.
- DVDs that encourage reading
- TV shows that encourage reading
(Photo © PBS)