Forget all these high-tech or sophisticated programs to get kids to read. You know, the ones where your baby can learn to read before he can talk using
shock therapy flash cards and prescriptive instruction that sounds really official because it’s described in “eduspeak” and written by someone with initials after his name? Forget even (please, forget, PLEASE) those products that show you how to teach your baby to read while he’s still in the womb. (Seriously, can we give the fetus a break? He’s working pretty darn hard to grow fingernails right now. Does he have to conjugate verbs as well?)
Forget all that stuff. I’ve learned that all you have to do to teach your kid to read is get him addicted to video games. And believe me, that’s not a difficult task for you to master.
Take Boy #3 as a case study. We had no idea he could read until one day I thought to ask him if he knew any of the words in a book I was reading to him before bed. Uh, yeah. He could. The ones he didn’t know by sight, he knew how to sound out. And not because he’s been taught phonics, either. The boy doesn’t even go to a traditional preschool.
At first I wanted to take the credit myself. About the only thing I’ve ever stuck with in my life is reading to my kids before bed. Finally, I did something right, I thought! And I have to admit that I may have patted myself on the back. For reals.
And then it became apparent that I may not have had as much to do with it as Nintendo did.
You see, he has a wee obsession with Pokemon games on his Nintendo DS. And at first I felt a little guilty when I’d go to bed at night and realize that Boy #3 had pretty much been attached to his DS the entire day, taking a break only to pee. (I’m pretty sure he still played it while he pooped.) But now I’m turning that guilt around. You see, instead of just letting him play games and entertain himself all day, I was actually helping him develop his phonics and reading skills. Yeah, I’m good like that.
So how did I discover this breakthrough in literacy, you ask? Well, let me give you a clue. Instead of common sight words like cat, dog, run, day, and the like, here are the words that Boy #3 can pick out in any context:
fight, attack, fainted, choose, weapon, defeated, winner, battle, and Pikachu (this one didn’t actually show up in too many other contexts, however).
Look at that, he now has mastered such complicated phonetic patterns as “ght,” “ch,” and “ea.”
So don’t let anyone scoff at you as they hold up flash cards to their infant while simultaneously doing baby sign language and they spot your child sitting in the corner, eyes glued to his handheld video game. Because your kid’s not only learning to read, he’s developing some killer fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as well.
Yeah, I knew what I was doing all along…