Teaching My Baby To Read

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Find the Four and Five Year Olds


Could we close the #OpportunityGap with TV?

What if, an elementary school in a struggling neighborhood had multiple sets of Leap Frog videos? What if, that elementary school targeted the four and five year old siblings of enrolled students, and gave those children access to the phonics videos, in sequential, three week intervals?  What if those four and five year olds entered Kindergarten in the fall already knowing their letters, sounds, and C-V-C words?

For $150 you could buy nine or ten Leap Frog and Preschool Prep videos, a box of Ziploc backs, and a ream of copy paper.  Then you would bag up the videos with the following flyers:

Congratulations on being _________’s little brother!  Greenwood Elementary school is so excited to have you as part of our extended family, and we are looking forward to you entering Kindergarten this fall.  Are you ready to start your learning adventure a bit early? If so, go ahead and borrow The Letter Factory for the next three weeks, and watch it as much as you would like.  Return this video on _________ and we will send home The Talking Words Factory for you to borrow next.  Happy viewing!

Would this idea work?  Would it improve test scores?  Should I let this idea go, or should I think about it some more?


  1. It’s all about parental commitment. If the parents are on board, it could potentially help. I think for a program like that to work you would need an advance meeting with the parents. Maybe during kindergarten round up or a special PTA meeting? The biggest issue in my daughter’s class is the teacher sending materials home and then never seeing them again. For a while she had me sending home reading level appropriate books in a Ziploc bag each week with a short assignment inside (e.g. draw a picture about your favorite part of the story, etc.). It got to the point where half the class wasn’t returning their book bags each week so she had to abandon the program before they ran out of books in the classroom! I don’t know if she ever got those books back. Bottom line — if you can get the parents to commit to doing the program AND bring back the materials when they’re done, you’re half way there. 🙂

  2. Nicol says:

    I agree with the Fairy Tale Mama, there really must be a parental commitment. But another idea instead of sending the materials home would be to set it up where the children came during the summer to the school or a community center for an hour or so each day. They could watch the videos, play some learning games and do other learning activities. I know a lot of the low income schools in our state have a summer lunch program where the kids go and have a free lunch during the summer. Naturally the concern is that these kids are not getting the proper food at home but what if there was a spot set up where these kids could also do some summer learning?

  3. Claire H. says:

    All the libraries in my area already have copies of the Leap Frog DVD’s and other educational videos like Between the Lions and the new version of Electric Company.

    The biggest issue IMHO is a cultural one- most of the disadvantaged students have parents that come from cultures where teaching is seen as the sole responsibility of the schools. By contrast, most of the high-achieving students come from homes like yours and the one in which I grew up, where the schools are seen as a supplement to what the families are already doing.

  4. jengod says:

    I think it’s a great idea. Very user-friendly. Worst case is no one watches, best case is “B says buh!”

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