Excerpt from "Reading Babies"
Danielle Dobbs

The brain is a magical container that defies the laws of physics - the more you pour into it, the more it grows! The plasticity of the brain is directly related to its chronological age and the amount of stimulation it receives. The younger the child, the easier it is for the brain to meet the demands placed upon it. It is said that most of our learning is done within the first few years of life - by age three the circuitry of the brain is almost finished.

Anything having to do with languages seems to be an inborn ability, which includes learning to communicate in one or more languages, whether audible, or visible (sign language), and learning to read. It is during the early years that these tasks are best accomplished, when learning is pure fun!

As parents, we have big dreams for our children. After good health, our main goal is to ensure that they grow up to be happy and successful. We have a responsibility to help our children reach their full potential and take advantage of built in timing when everything is learned the easy way without the slightest effort. In so doing, our children will be given a brilliant start in life.

Teaching your baby to read is an act of love, because, unless you make a conscious effort to expose him to the printed word, he will not accomplish this task by himself. The techniques and material used to teach your baby to read are actually quite simple. However, it is your devotion to reading him stories and the interest you show that is of utmost importance in helping him develop a love for reading. With reading comes knowledge and with knowledge comes imagination.

Teaching him a second language will give him an edge in our competitive world while helping him develop respect and tolerance for other cultures. Your baby will easily learn to read and learn a second language because these activities are best acquired during the baby stage.

I have devoted a great portion of my book to giving tips for helping you meet the physical and psychological needs of your baby. Of all the many things you can give your baby, your time is the most precious. Talking to and listening to your baby will create a bond of friendship that will still endure during the teenage years and beyond. Confidence, good self-concept, a sense of security, a sense of fairness, a good sense of humor, and a love for the arts are traits worth nurturing in your child because all these will make him a well-rounded and well-adjusted person.

I have written Reading Babies because of my belief that every infant is endowed with an unlimited and magical learning potential. My intention is to share with you my success story about teaching our daughter to read while she was a baby and the ease with which she learned a second language, so that you too can help your child achieve his own learning potential.

Our daughter learned to read many words before she was able to speak. At one year old, she could read well over one hundred words printed on large flash cards while she was able to say only about 20 of these words. My husband and I read to her several books daily. Our motivation was to tell her enchanting stories. We did not concentrate on "teaching" her to read. Instead, we read her stories. Exposing her to words using flash cards from the time she was born gave her the idea that words were representations of real things, and printed words created stories. In so doing, she developed a true passion for reading. She had many toys but reading stories was her favorite activity.

At one year old, I decided to find out how much she could read by using a "guessing game" that I devised. We were amazed when, her bottle in hand, she walked through the 100 plus cards strewn on the floor of the living room picking out correctly any word I asked her. This is how we knew she could read. Besides using large flash cards, I had also labeled things around the house with 3x5 cards because of my conviction that babies can learn to read by association.

We never asked her to read, and it is only by chance that we learned that, at three years of age, she could fluently read entire books. One night, as usual, she carried a pile of books to bed that we had borrowed from the library a few hours before. Since I was sick with fever I told her I would read only one book. After finishing the book I reminded her that, as always, I would read her many books the next day. After her plea did not change my mind, she picked up the next (new) book from the top of the pile and read, out loud, the entire book. Her attitude seemed to say "See, I don't need you, I can do it by myself!" My fever magically disappeared as I called my husband to witness the event. Amazingly, as her little finger glided on the page, her reading was fluent with the right voice inflection.

Soon after, she started taking Suzuki violin lessons, but she did not like to practice. So I devised a game, which I called "Treasure Hunt." I hid either a cookie or a candy somewhere in the house. I wrote a set of instructions on a piece of paper and handed it to her after she finished practicing her violin. Her reward was to go on a treasure hunt and find the "loot." This rewarding game worked like magic - she practiced her violin with anticipation of her reward.

One night, I found out how much this game meant to her. While she was practicing, I was preparing our luggage to leave the next day for France to visit my father. Since I had so much to do, I handed her a cookie after she had finished practicing her violin and praised her for how well she did. She burst out crying in disappointment, "Oh no, Maman, the treasure hunt!" You can imagine how bad I felt. I, of course, had to oblige and devise another set of instructions and hide the cookie.

At 4 years old, while on a trip to France to visit my father, she amazed us once again. She was bilingual, English-French, but she only had a few French books at home, and she read mostly books in English. I told her that night that I would be reading the French books we had borrowed a few days before from the library. I had been so busy with my father that I had failed to read these books to her. She answered that she had read them. I said (in French) "You mean you looked at the pictures?" She replied (as a matter of fact, as if it was no big deal) "No, I've read them." We gave her the books and asked her to show us. She read them fluently! Her love of reading had motivated her to decipher the French text all by herself, and there is no telling how long she had been able to read in French.

Her case is not unusual. Many babies achieve the same results given the same opportunity we gave our daughter. The idea of teaching babies to read does not seem so far-fetched when one considers that ALL babies learn to talk within the first few years of life and this is far more difficult than having to recognize some words that spring out of books in enchanting stories.






Charles and Danielle Dobbs, mold inspectors

Children, the elderly, and people with depressed immune systems due to cancer, organ transplants, or AIDS, can become very sick when exposed to higher than normal levels of mold.  Even some healthy individuals happen to be very sensitive to mold and are unable to tolerate a slight elevation of mold spores.

Mold, scientifically known as fungi (singular: fungus), is not new - it’s been around since the beginning of time and is a normal occurrence.  Mold spores are found everywhere, even in Antarctica.  The amount of spores in the air fluctuates day to day according to geographical locations, temperature, and the weather.  Mold is abundant - there are between 1.3 to 3 millions species of mold, and they come in all kinds of colors.  Some are common, and some are rare.  Some are known to be toxic.

Mold can be classified into three broad categories as far as health effects are concerned.  The first category is allergenic molds, which cause allergic or asthmatic reactions, but do not usually cause permanent health effects in most healthy, active people.  There are pathogenic molds, which can cause serious health problems in those who are more susceptible.  And finally, there are toxic molds that can cause serious health problems in everybody.  The severity of these problems differs depending on age, immune system, and sensitivity.

Mold becomes a problem when it is growing inside our homes.  A mold problem is, above all, a water or humidity problem.  Without moisture mold spores cannot grow.  Thus it behooves homeowners to practice mold prevention through regular maintenance and being vigilant in making prompt repairs when leaks occur.  One must remember that within 24 to 48 hours following leaks, mold can start growing.

Mold serves a good purpose in life by breaking down dead organic material, because without it, we would be living in a trash heap.  To reproduce itself mold ejects microscopic spores (seeds) into the air.  When a spore lands in a good environment with food (dead organic material such as wood or drywall) and water, it starts to grow.  It then sends hyphae (tree-root like system) into the material and these hyphae emit enzymes that rot and digest the material it is sitting on.  If anyone has tried to “clean up” mold and has seen it coming back, it is due to those hyphae that stay embedded in the material.  A few weeks following the cleaning, mold reappears because the root system is still in the material, and similar to a plant, it grows back if moisture continues to be present.  Certain types of mold do not even need a leak in order to grow.  If the relative humidity of the air (RH) is above 60% some mold can take the humidity from the air and start growing on walls, furniture, and personal effects.

Sometimes people have no idea that a problem has taken place until they get sick.  Plumbing leaks in showers are notorious for being unnoticed for a long period of time before being discovered.  If mold is suspected, call a mold inspector who will be able to detect whether a mold problem exists and if so where it is coming from.  Before hiring a professional, it is important to obtain credentials and references.  Mold detection is not an exact science, thus experience often equals expertise.

If your child seems to have constant allergies, it might be due to mold.   Collecting air samples with a corresponding outside control is the only way to assess the air quality, with respect to mold spores, inside the home.

In 2005 researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that fungi play a large role in chronic rhinosinusitis.  In fact, the findings indicates that chronic rhinosinusitis is a result of a fungal driven inflammation rather than a bacterial infection.

Indoor air quality problems in schools affect both students and teachers.  The following statistics were published on February 2, 2005 by the IEQ Review:

  1. One in five schools in America has indoor air quality problems.
  2. Asthma accounts for 14 million missed school days each year.
  3. The rate of asthma in young children has risen by 160 percent in the past 15 years.
  4. 1 out of every 13 school-age children has asthma.

The Center for Indoor Environments and Health at the University of Connecticut states “the most common types of illnesses directly related to mold are type I responses of allergic rhinitis and asthma.”  They go on to say “… allergic inflammation can trigger bronchospasm, chest tightness, and shortness of breath, leading to either new onset of asthma or asthma exacerbation in sensitized individuals.”

Poor maintenance in schools and lack of money are often cited as excuses for mold problems, but little is done about it.  This does not only pertain to public schools; some private schools are just as bad.  Many university dorms, regardless of school prestige, are in poor condition and some harbor mold.  Students accept these conditions as status quo and fail to complain.  This situation does not have to be.  If money can be found to modernize a gym and re-sod the school lawn, money can be found to maintain buildings properly.  Air quality should be a priority of any institution, and parents and teachers should demand it.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Charles and Danielle Dobbs are principals of Dobbs Enterprises, a mold inspection and sampling company based in Maitland, Florida.  They are authors of Mold Matters – Solutions and Prevention, and have written many articles. They founded the International Institute of Professional Mold Inspectors, www.iipmi.com. They give onsite or online classes on water intrusion and mold management, which are accredited for continuing education credits.  A unique telephone consulting service, a first in the nation provides homeowners and building owners with an unbiased expert opinion or guidance about their particular mold problem.  Charles and Danielle can be contacted at info@iipmi.com.

Click here for a review of their book: MOLD MATTERS - Solutions and Prevention




left © 2007 Dobbs Enterprises, Inc. - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED right