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Give the Gift of Learning this Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us and if you haven't found a present for the newest little one in your life yet, don't give in to the temptation to get another stuffed animal or cute outfit. Babies are learning machines and thrive on stimulation, so you'll want to look for a gift that will engage them. How about one that will teach them how to read before they can even talk? "The best time to learn any aspect of language is during the infant and toddler years when there is a natural window of opportunity for learning language," says Bob Titzer, Ph.D., an infant researcher who explains that when a child is between the ages of 3 months and 5 years, he or she experiences tens of thousands of synapses, or connections in the brain, which "makes the child capable not only of learning to understand and speak our language at a high level, but to learn the written word naturally and easily as well." Dr. Titzer proved this to be true in the early 1990s with the help of his then infant daughter Aleka, who is now 16-years-old and a sophomore in college. Aleka was born around the same time her father was studying the latest theories of brain development in infants. Knowing that infants learn through many different sensory systems at the same time, when Aleka was 3 months and 8 days old, her father started showing her flash cards with simple words on them, as well as videotape of babies engaging in the action on the card and a voice in the background that would say what they were doing. "This allowed her to make connections between the visual, auditory, and sensory areas of the brain, he explains. "Eventually we reached the point where I would hold up the word 'clap,' and Aleka would clap. 'Arms Up' and she'd point her hands towards the sky. She loved seeing how excited her mother and I got when she read the cards to us." Just a few years after successfully teaching Aleka how to read, Dr. Titzer started sharing the method he used to teach her with other parents through the "Your Baby Can Read! Early Language Development System," a program that teaches children whole language and phonics using a combination of sound, sight and interaction. The core program is made up of 5 interactive DVDs, 5 starter double-side sliding word and picture cards, 1 wipe-clean word card and 1 non-toxic erasable pen. To learn more about the program, log on to www.yourbabycanread.com or call (888) READ-888. "As a parent, you want the best for your child. Teaching them to read at an early age will open all kinds of doors in the future," says Dr. Titzer. Courtesy of ARA content

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