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Originally Posted by Phoebe
My brother and SIL apparently didn't do much sitting and reading with her when she was little but by the end of her kindergarten year she reads at a 6th grade level. Leapfrog had a great deal to do with it as far as my mama is concerned.
So, b/c I am a pain, I'd be inclined to inquire whether your niece could read the newspaper (on avg 4th - 6th grade reading level) & Harry Potter books (5th-6th grade reading level) by the end of kindergarten. I'd be kind of skeptical that she could read that well unless she is just a very advanced kid in that area. If she is that advanced, I really doubt that it was due solely to one learning toy especially if she was not read to at home. Children who are not read to almost always lag behind in reading. Whether a toy can make up for that gap, I don't know, but it certainly hasn't been tested. The govt would be buying them for all disadvantaged kids rather than funding Head Start, if so!

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So, chime in please...
Does Leapfrog REALY help put your child ahead of the game more so than say, actually sitting and reading regularly together?
We had some Leap Frog products, but my kids just didn't use them enough for me to say that I can really weigh in on that one. We read a lot together, though.
 

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Originally Posted by the_lissa
I was reading at a 9th grade level in grade 3. I never had a toy like that. I don't like them and dd won't have them. There was an article about this floating around. I hope someone posts it.
Oh, and I did want to clarify that I don't think that it is impossible for young children to be reading significantly above grade level
: ! My dd who just finished first grade is reading probably right at about 6th grade level now & I, too, read quite a bit above grade level in elementary school. I have definately seen that happen, but I have rarely seen kindergarteners specifically be that far above grade level for reading b/c they have usually just learned to read in the past year - maybe 2nd-3rd grade level, but 6th grade for a kindergartener is pretty far advanced. She'd definately be getting tracked for gifted & talented classes in most districts.

Okay, back to topic now...
 

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Originally Posted by meemee
by biggest gripe with leaffrogs and the whole deal is their attitude of pushing reading and math skills on children. i mean go to any mom's house and even tho the fridge magnets say 2+ you will find them in many crawling baby homes. it seems it is propogating this idea that if my child can read and do math early BEFORE they even go to preschool then they will grow up to be geniuses (HATE that word). i feel the same with baby einstein things which totally exploits the genius idea.
I think that this, accompanied with the idea that you can use toys in lieu of parent time, is one of my bigger concerns with learning toys as well. I have never seen any research that associates early reading with long-term higher success in school or higher IQ. Just one example.

I do feel that there is this major competition going on among parents (I have definately felt it from my dd's friends parents) to have their kids read at a higher level than others. The parents seem to use it as "proof" that their kid is smarter, better, etc.

I don't really believe that pushing kids to read as soon as we can possibly get them to do so is going to do them any long-term good. As moominmamma mentioned, two kids who learned to read on totally different time-tables may be equally well prepared & developed later down the line.
 

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Charles Baudelaire, I know that you are familiar with signs of giftedness in young children and I did not mean to imply that children who pick up on things (including reading) quickly are not gifted. What was getting at was that, although there has been good research linking early speech with giftedness, there has not been as much emphasis in the literature that I have seen linking early reading and giftedness. Perhaps this is due to the differing definitions of reading, as others have noted, as well as the huge pressure put on young children to read now a days.

In the past when only "gifted" kids might be reading at 4 or 5, now we expect nearly all children to be reading at 5. If they are not, they get put in reading recovery programs - yikes! It blurs the line on who would naturally be able to read at that age (and thus be showing some sign of greater academic ability) and everyone else b/c everyone is expected to meet that standard. I have also met some very bright children who learned to read much later than average and who then surpassed their peers rather quickly. I don't know if the timing is that important.

Yes, many gifted children learn to read early on & pick up on it quickly, but many young children learn to "read" through drilling from their parents and teachers and are no more gifted than an average child. They were just pushed. Pushing a child to do something before s/he would have naturally shown interest and ability does nothing to produce a child with higher abilities long term. On that, I am sure that we agree.

That is my concern with learning toys, videos, etc. We do have some of them, but not b/c I am seeking to turn my children into little geniuses. I do think that you can coach a kindergartener or young child into something that is beyond their natural abilities with some success, but as far as it "putting them on the fast track" to academic success (my older dd's teacher's justification for drilling the kids on stuff), I don't see any proof that it will work. I'm not in any way meaning to imply that you are doing anything like this. I am just trying to explain (hopefully in some coherent manner!) what I meant in my last post.

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Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat
I don't think any toy gives your child an edge over other kids. I think it is weird to think that competitively about young kids. Knowing how to read at a sixth grade level by age 5 doesn't make you a better person. It doesn't mean you are nicer or have more common sense. It doesn't mean that the kid who doesn't know how to read won't match or surpass you in a few years when they are ready.
ITA! That's exactly where I am at. We just have way too many parents who want their kid to be the best, the smartest... I am tired of all of the comparisons and competition that I see among my dds' peers parents. I am proud of my girls & I understand a parent being proud of their bright child. But, will that child be a better person b/c she reads better or does math better? I am sure that it doesn't really make a difference. As I told dd's teacher, I would much rather my child be a happy blue collar worker than a miserable president. Good school grades don't always equate to the president, either. My brother struggled through school with a C avg & I was the honor student with a Masters degree. Solely from a financial success standpoint, he makes 10 times what my dh & I do. We're all happy people, though, and that it what really matters.
 

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Your statement above seems to be heading in the direction of the "all children even out" myth, but perhaps you didn't mean it that way.
Oh no, I didn't mean it that way. I know that they don't all even out. I was meaning to express that gifted children don't all learn to read early and early reading isn't always a sign of giftedness. There are other much more accurate means of assessing giftedness than when a child learns to read.

eta: I think that there is currently just too much emphasis put on early reading in school and elsewhere. Reading to children from a very early age on can never be overemphasized IMO, but getting them to read themselves at a young age is not as good of an indicator of academic success.
 
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