Early Learning: for & against
Flash Card FAQs
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"Teaching will harm the child..."
The arguments of Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff in the book Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, and BrillBaby's response:
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff:
To use flash cards with infants… is like putting a video cassette on fast-forward instead of play. To put children on fast-forward is to risk turning them off to their natural desire to learn, and instead increases their risk of becoming anxious, depressed and unhappy.
Firstly, it should be mentioned that using flash cards is just one method of teaching babies - there are many other methods besides.
The authors believe that teaching a baby with flash cards will destroy her desire to learn. Plenty of parents would disagree. But in any case, we must ensure as parents that we do not risk making our child anxious, depressed or unhappy. How do we do this? By only giving lessons when our child is receptive - and stopping them immediately should he lose interest.
Some children love lessons with flash cards; others become distracted. Every child is different, so it pays to try out different teaching methods and see which your child prefers. Children may also prefer different methods at different times. For example, Felicity, who can be seen on the Baby Reading Videos page reading at the ages of 12 months, 28 months and 29 months, enjoyed flash cards as a young baby, but became easily distracted as she gained mobility. It was then that she began preferring the multisensory method of reading instruction, which her parents duly switched to.
In terms of putting a child on "fast-forward," the authors might be alluding to the fact that the flashing is done in a rapid fashion. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, rapid flashing enables information to be apprehended by the right hemisphere of the child's brain. This means that there is no conscious effort involved in remembering - just as there isn't when children learn their native language. Secondly, because children learn so quickly, the flashing must be rapid in order to retain their interest. So far from encouraging anxiety, depression and unhappiness, the flash card method is designed to ensure that the learning process is both effortless and stimulating.
Something else that the authors might by implying with the word "fast-forward" is that by using flash cards you will force a child to develop faster than she would like to. This should never be the goal with early learning programs. Instead, we recommend always following the child's lead - continuing with lessons that interest the child and discontinuing any that she finds boring. The wonderful thing about teaching babies is that there is no curriculum, no right or wrong way, and nothing that they "need" to learn. If only the same could be said for school!