Flash cards a no-no?

An article in the New York Times titled Simon Says Don’t Use Flash Cards begins:

Parents who want to stimulate their children’s brain development often focus on things like early reading, flashcards and language tapes. But a growing body of research suggests that playing certain kinds of childhood games may be the best way to increase a child’s ability to do well in school. Variations on games like Freeze Tag and Simon Says require relatively high levels of executive function, testing a child’s ability to pay attention, remember rules and exhibit self-control — qualities that also predict academic success.

But one of my oldest and favorite memories is of the flash cards my parents taught me the alphabet with. In my memory, they glow like magic. (And according to my parents, I started reading at three.)

Read the whole article here.

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Hm. Well, all I can say is that both of my kids learned their alphabets and how to read before age 2 and I credit that almost entirely to our attempting to teach them sign language using Rachel Coleman's Signing Time DVDs and inadvertently leaving on the close captioning. Combining that with visuals and songs had both my kids grokking letters and words far faster than I ever expected! (When my daughter read book titles the first time at 15-18 months, we thought it was a fluke...until she could do it in the library with unfamiliar shelves!)
There's scientific evidence (gobs and gobs of studies) proving that images/context helps language learning (both primary and secondary). I had to read tons of it when I was getting my masters in foreign language education. Of course, it's even more helpful to have an actual item instead of a picture of it. Having an image cements the concept faster than not having it, but having an image in context works even faster. But that doesn't mean flashcards aren't good for reviewing/practicing.

I think the flaw in the "don't use flashcards" advice is that they're saying to pick one approach over another, when really it's variety that's important. Kids don't need just the "executive functions" that the article favors--they need content, too. So the approach shouldn't be "drop that entirely, and do this instead" it should be "hey, let kids do this, too, because it's also important".

And they're confusing play directed by adults with play directed by kids--I would bet that kids left to their own devices are better off than kids who have supervised playtime all the time. You can't discover things for yourself if your parents are hovering.
they always miss the part when an adult interacts with the child in learning anything is important. Flash cards or games..