When I first saw the title of this book by Glenn Doman, it seemed preposterous, I mean come on….How could you teach a baby to read? And even if you could what is the rush to teach your baby to read ? I had these questions but being a first time parent I feared that I might miss out on some important piece of information in bringing up our baby – So very skeptically I started reading this book by the authors Glenn Doman and Janet Doman. The book gripped me completely and was an inspiring read. Being parents, who thought that the first 6 years of a child should only be about play, reading about Glenn Doman’s early learning philosophy changed us. And we started preparing for something we thought was only a school’s job that is – Teaching Little Ed.
As I mentioned in our Early Learning Story – I don’t think we would have discovered Early Learning if I had not come across this book when Ed was 5 months old. It was reading Glenn Doman’s philosophy in this book that inspired me to learn more about the concept of teaching young children and its importance. And now we can confidently say that making Early Learning a part of Ed’s early childhood development gave us the most enjoyable and enriching 2 years with our son.
In this detailed article I have reviewed this book based on our experience with Ed. It briefly covers the Doman philosophy, his methods and a few inspirational quotes by Glenn Doman which best describe his philosophy. You will also find some of the important core rules which are an integral part of his early reading philosophy.
Glenn Doman and His Philosophy
Glenn Doman is the founder of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP) and his methods are aimed at helping parents to discover the vast potential in their child. Glenn Doman believes that the critical window for enhancing a child’s potential is before the age of six. He emphasizes that the years from birth to 6 years of age are very crucial and that parents play a more critical role in their child’s intellectual development than formal schooling. Babies are curious by nature and they love to learn and Domans early learning philosophy is based on fostering their nature love for learning by providing them the right environment and opportunity. Glenn Doman believes that the critical window for enhancing a child’s potential is before the age of six. Babies’ brains are so plastic (adaptable) that learning is effortless for them. By providing positive mental stimulation to your baby, you can help strengthen the neural pathways that lay the foundation for his/her cognitive, emotional and social intelligence
“How to Teach Your Baby to Read” – So whats in the book?
“How to teach your baby to Read” – Glenn Doman’s first book has sold two million copies worldwide.
The first six chapters in the book discuss the Doman Philosophy in detail. They answered all the questions I had before reading this book and helped me to understand the reasoning and importance of teaching early.
In the chapters that follow there is a clear description of the Glenn Doman teaching method, telling you exactly where to begin, how to make the flashcards and the specifics on the duration and frequency of flashing them.
The book also has a detailed explanation of a set of rules that are the basis of the Glenn Doman philosophy of teaching. Understanding and following them is crucial for the success of the program. Reading, say the authors, is not a subject like geography but a brain function like seeing and hearing.
More than the Glenn Doman method, what I really took from the book were the early learning rules. The rules proved to be invaluable reminders whenever I was doing an Early Learning Activity or session with Ed. They were like an inner voice telling me to never push or test Ed. They reminded me to to stop before he got bored and to always trust my sons capabilities. They guided me in keeping things real by not going overboard when teaching him.
Some of the Rules for Effective Teaching mentioned in the book
1. Start as early as possible. Glenn Doman states that the most crucial time for children is the period from birth to 6 years of age. Researchers have concluded that “The production of synapses in the brain is strongly linked to the ability to learn and it peaks around 6 years of age”.
2. Parents are a child’s first and best Teacher. This rule inspired me to start this website and reach put to other Early Learning Parents who love being their child’s first teacher!
3. Teach only when you and your baby feel happy and excited . Learning and Teaching is not a chore but should be fun and joyous experience for the Parent and child. Teach your baby only at times when he is happy, rested and well-fed. Teaching a child when the Parent is distracted or stressed is also not recommended.
4. Respect your child and truly believe in him - A Child should always be respected and be taught in a trusting environment and then only will he will enjoy it. .We should not underestimate the learning and comprehension ability of a child especially of babies and toddlers. Glenn Doman also suggests never to dumb down a concept or facts or make things up assuming that the baby is too young to understand.
5. Stop before your child wants to stop or your child is not having fun. ( One of my favorite rules of the Glenn Doman philosophy)We as parents are not only teaching a child the subject at hand whether reading or math but also introducing him to the “process of learning” itself. How we conduct ourselves while teaching our child will greatly influence the attitude the child will have towards Learning in general. In these early years, pushing him or forcing him to learn is like telling him – Learning is a chore and just needs to be done, whether you like it or not. This will dictate the child’s attitude towards Learning in general and stay with him for his entire life.
6. A Parent needs to plan sessions and be consistent and have a structured schedule. The Doman Method is involved and does take time and effort and being organized and preparing new material ahead of sessions is the key.
7. Never Test a Child: Glenn Doman considers Testing an unpleasant and unrewarding activity that discourages a child to learn. I have to admit that this was the hardest rule for us to follow and I am guilty of slipping up every now and then. But it is something I am really working on after having seen first hand how uncomfortable Ed gets when I ask him to display (prove) what he has learnt. It does come down to the Point no. 4 above – Trusting your child and believing that he knows what you have taught him.
8. Create a Learning Environment : Children have very short attention and all visual, auditory and tactile distractions need to be eliminated when you teach. This will help him him to focus on the learning session better.
9. Talk clearly, loudly and be enthusiastic. This works brilliantly not only for a Glenn Doman teaching session but when you want to teach anything to your child, for eg. We use an enthusiastic animated voice when reading new books to Ed and that really gets him involved in reading the story. Ed was 10 months old when he learnt to identify an Octagon Stop sign on the roads because every time we passed one we pointed at it and said ” Wow look – a Stop Sign – and what shape is that, oh its an Octagon and Octagons have 8 sides”. We sounded enthusiastic and said it slowly and clearly and of course consistently. And now he points out to all sorts of shapes he sees on roads and playgrounds excitedly because he thinks its such a fun game.
10. Adapting your approach : I feel that even the soundest teaching philosophy or method needs to be modified or tweaked based on your own child. A book can educate, motivate and inspire you and show you how to start but just as every child is different so will be the approach. And who could be a better person to tailor it than the parent! You can start where it tells you but follow your child and tailor it based on his likes and dislikes . When we started Teaching maths to Ed using the Glenn Doman’s dot method – he hated it! Then we used another program called Little Math by Brillkids but that dint make much of a difference either. I think Ed was just not ready, so we decided to stop teaching Maths and continuously searched for a method which was more playful and fun. When Ed was 18 months, we tried some fun activities from a book called Early Math For Young Children: Marshmallow Math along with the Leapfrog Math Circus Dvd’s and we got such a better response. He still doesn’t love math like reading but finds it fun if done in short sessions or incorporated in his daily play.
Inspiring Glenn Doman’s Quotes
“What can we do with thirty seconds? What can we not do with thirty seconds!… [Suppose] your little child looks out the window and sees a collie. ‘What’s that?’ he asks you. You have five options, which will each take about thirty seconds to make stick: 1. We can tell him, “Look, baby, Mommy has to get dinner.” 2. We can tell him, “That’s a bow-wow.” 3. We can tell him, “That’s a dog.” 4. We can tell him, “That’s a dog called a collie.” The fifth option is to tell him that it is a dog called a collie and then go on to tell him thirty second’s worth of information about that animal… How sad it is that we put information into a computer with great skill and great precision and put information into our children’s brains in a hit-or-miss, slip-shod, and often untruthful way.”
“What can we do with thirty seconds? What can we not do with thirty seconds!… [Suppose] your little child looks out the window and sees a collie.
‘What’s that?’ he asks you. You have five options, which will each take about thirty seconds to make stick:
1. We can tell him, “Look, baby, Mommy has to get dinner.”
2. We can tell him, “That’s a bow-wow.”
3. We can tell him, “That’s a dog.”
4. We can tell him, “That’s a dog called a collie.”
The fifth option is to tell him that it is a dog called a collie and then go on to tell him thirty second’s worth of information about that animal…
How sad it is that we put information into a computer with great skill and great precision and put information into our children’s brains in a hit-or-miss, slip-shod, and often untruthful way.”
Our experience with Glenn Doman’s flash card method in this book.
We followed the advise in the book and did the flashcards with 6 months old Ed until he was about a year old. For the first three months he would just look at the cards and we did not get any reaction from him- but neither did he look away. When he was about 9 months old, we could tell by his body language if he was excited and looking forward to the session or not interested.
At around this time we wanted him to be more involved and be in control of the learning so we started asking him questions like “Are you having fun or should we stop and do something else?”. Although he was too young to reply- it was our way of telling him that this is suppose to be fun and if you are not having fun we can do something else. Now that he is older and talking, he just tells us what he wants to do whether it is watching a dvd, starfall or playing with his learning apps on the Ipad. He also tells us clearly when he wants us to stop.
When Ed was around one year, we noticed that his interest in the Doman flashcards was lessening so we stopped the cards completely and started searching for other early learning programs that would complement his learning and keep his interest.
We tried introducing the flashcards after several breaks but Ed was not interested – at which point we decided to stop them for good. In a way it was great as it helped us to seriously move on to other products such as the little reader and some Early Learning Dvd’s . It also helped us to concentrate more on teaching him baby sign language which he was learning from watching “Baby Signing Time” dvds since he was 7 months old. Ed had started signing to us and we prioritized this over anything else at that time, as we were loving the fact that our 1 year old could communicate with us and tell us what he wanted.
Ed was growing and developing a personality, his likes and dislikes were also strongly developing and we tried to be attentive to these changes and always explored new methods and techniques to keep a fun stimulating learning environment. This worked brilliantly and ensured that Ed was more receptive and enjoyed any method we introduced. Seeing our little boy have fun while learning was the biggest motivator for us to keep going.
For us, the Glenn Doman’s Flashcard method did not work for very long with Ed. But a friend, who also started flashcards with her son when he was about the same age had a completely different experience. She is still doing reading flashcards with her 2 year old son. Her son just loves them and she actually keeps a set in the car to keep him busy on long journeys. Again, It just goes to show that very child is different and the key is to adapt your teaching methods based on your child’s learning preferences.
I feel, that the book is worth a read for any parent who is interested in the concept of Early Learning. And irrespective of whether you follow the Glenn doman teaching method or not, a parent who has read this book will raise his child differently from what they would have otherwise done without having read the book.
The book is an encouraging read and its philosophy will inspire you in discovering your own teaching method based on your child’s personality and learning preferences. If you follow that and keep the process joyful and consistent, you will surely love early learning with your child.
Whole Word Vs Phonics Debate – Which one is a better approach?
This debate has being going on for decades and I am no expert on the pros and cons of whole word vs phonic approach. All I can say is that I’ve seen the the whole word method work brilliantly with many young children who are reading at very advanced levels.
In case you are not interested in using the whole word approach at all, then the Glenn Doman’s method of teaching will not be for you. With Ed,we followed a mixed approach i.e phonics and whole word and it worked perfectly for him. We followed the method in the “How to Teach your baby to read” exactly as described for several months as a foundation and then moved on to teaching him phonetically using several other methods. These included Little Reader, Leapfrog letter factory Dvds and an excellent free reading program called “Reading Bear”.
To Buy or check the best prices on “How to Teach your Baby To Read” or other Glenn Doman’s bestsellers: