Flashcards on DVD – Is it Worth Pursuing?

Lately, I’ve been trying to teach Gavin how to read.  In addition to his already extensive library of educational DVDs, I have recently added Dr Robert Titzer’s “Your Baby Can Read” series.

To be quite honest, I’m not really holding my breath with the flash card method of teaching Gavin.  I’ve tried making my own flash cards for Gavin and he humoured me for all of two sessions before he told me point blank, “Mummy, I don’t want to play this.”

Right… Well, the flash cards on DVD seems to have had somewhat more promise, but not really that much more. He seems to enjoy the “Your Baby Can Read” DVDs a little more than the Tweedlewink program.  Perhaps it is the fact that they intersperse the series of flashcards with fun songs like “Old McDonald”.  Gavin seems to perk up every time they break into song.

Part of the reason for Gavin’s rather ambivalent interest in the flash cards might be due to the fact that we started him on them late.  Most of the programs all encourage parents to begin as early as possible to tap into the child’s learning potential.  However, I believe the other benefit of beginning as early as possible is that you avoid environmental influences from stealing your child’s attention.

For instance, a three month old baby will not have been exposed to TV before and anything a parent flashes in front of him will be interesting.  Whereas a three year old who’s seen Mickey Mouse on TV is less likely to enjoy a series of flash cards being flashed on the TV screen because the program is so much less interactive compared to Mickey.

Ah well, I can still use all these educational DVD resources with baby number two.  Meanwhile, I still play them for Gavin on occasion to let him absorb as much or as little as he wants.  If he watches the screen – great!  If he doesn’t, oh well, maybe he’s still listening.

I thought it was interesting to note that I can remember pieces of music that my Dad used to play on the stereo when I was a kid.  I don’t have a clear memory that he played them, but I have a familiarity with it that I cannot explain – something sort of like devaju.

For instance, I once learned a piece of music on the piano – after my first run through of the piece, my music teacher eyed me suspiciously and asked if I had heard the music before.  In all honesty, I couldn’t remember hearing the piece being played before, but yet it was so familiar to me.  To cut a long story short, I found that particular piece of music easier to learn than the other pieces I had to learn because of the familiarity it held.

I guess that’s what I am hoping that these DVDs will do for Gavin now – teach something to his subconscious that might benefit him in some way later in life.

A recent newsletter that I received from Right Brain Kids seems to suggest that this line of thinking isn’t altogether flawed.  Here’s the excerpt from the newsletter:


“On the flashcards, my thoughts are ‘What is the use of my child
knowing how a “C” note looks like on the bar when she is 17 months old? Or what would my child need to know the molecular structure of water, oxygen, etc for that matter. Does she really need to be flashed things that she may never need to know anyway? Or should I decide what I think she should acquire, etc. Is there an underlying reason which I am not aware?'”


It’s true. Your daughter may never need to know what a C looks like on the scale. Or what water looks like at the molecular level. But what the brain is doing with that information is more important than whether or not it will be used in the future. Your daughter’s mind sees the C, hears the C and each little bit of information is stored as a memory byte. Then, synapses immediately form to connect these bits of information. Then, she may read a book that mentions ABC — and that will link to these memory bytes as well. Then she may hear a piece of music that incorporates the C note or scale and that whole piece is immediately connected to the now-growing neural network of linked memory bytes.

The more connections that are made within the brain, the more
activity occurs. The activity, more the central nervous system develops, grows and regenerates — this is how we boost brain activity, brain development, and brain regeneration. It is all unconscious or subconscious — with only a very small percent conscious — but it occurs just the same.

Memory bytes that are unused may eventually die, but if kept active in any way at all, they remain as a part of a large subconscious/unconscious library of neural networks that  increases overall intelligence.

Remember: it’s not the size of the brain: it’s the number of CONNECTIONS that determines our intelligence.

It was once thought that superior intelligence meant having a bigger brain.  Yet, after Einstein passed away and they examined his brain, they found that it was no bigger than an average human being’s.  What they found that was significant was that Einstein had a heck of a lot more connections in his brain compared to the average person.

When children are born, they have lots of brain cells but relatively few connections between these brain cells.  As they grow older, connections begin to form between the cells.  After a while, the brain begins to prune away connections that aren’t utilised and concentrate on the connections that are used.  By activating as many connections as possible when a child is young, we are encouraging as much of the brain to develop as possible.

This is the reason why it is important to expose your child to as much as possible in the first few years of life.  And flash cards are a great way to expose a child to lots of information in a relatively short period of time.


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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