Do Flash Cards Help Babies Learn?

Do flash cards help babies learn?When I think baby flash cards, I think of Baby Boom with Diana Keaton. Now that most of you are thinking, “who?” and the other three of you now know that I am one million years old, in this movie Keaton is a single career woman in New York City who, after inheriting a baby (Right?!?), ends up giving up city craziness for a quieter life in the country with her new daughter. Before she left the city, she was taking her new baby to baby gym and music classes and endlessly drilling her with flashcards (alongside her new parental peers).

I don’t know why, but my opinion of baby flash cards was forever jaded after seeing this movie. It’s unfair probably as there are a ton of really interesting-looking products out there now, including tactile cards with fur or scales on the animals.

My opinion, however, is just that. My opinion. So, despite being sour on the topic, I looked into them a bit deeper once I had kids. I wanted to know: do they work? Will looking at flashcards with my toddler, whether on my smartphone or with a pack from the bookstore, help my kid learn more, earlier.

The short answer is no. Babies and toddlers learn at an incredible rate, but they don’t learn via iPad or drill cards. Instead, researchers have found that a positive social environment with strong parental attachment and free play are where very young children are developing both their brains and bodies.

As children grow and reach preschool age and beyond, researchers think that games continue to play an integral part in the development of executive function in children (not flash cards).

Do flash cards hurt? Probably not. But with the limited hours in each day, they’re probably a waste of your time together with your child. Consider snuggling in with a good picture book or getting down on the floor to play instead.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two rowdy boys. She currently lives with her family in Japan. 

Tags: app, baby boom, child development, diana keaton, flash cards, iPad, learning

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