As anyone who has read my profile page knows, I am a homeschooler. Now, if you ask the town I live in, they will tell you that I am only homeschooling my 11 year old son. However there is an old tale that goes something like this:
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A women goes to the wise old professor for advice. She asks, “Sir, how old should my son be when I start to teach him?”
The wise professor answers “Well, how old is your son now?”
The mother replies, “He is 5.”
The professor exclaims, “Rush home right now! You have wasted the best 5 years of your child’s life!”
No matter where your child eventually goes to school, you ARE his first – and most important – teacher. I have always believed this, and consider myself to homeschool all 3 of my children – even the 8 month old.
That being said, I never even heard of Glenn Doman until about 7 months ago. I was on a pre-school website and saw a conversation about it. It talked about the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential and the phenomenal work that they are doing. So, I decided to check out the website (www.IAHP.org). At first I wasn’t really interested. I thought that these were just a bunch of pushy parents, that were forcing flashcards in their kids faces every 10 seconds, and were not letting them enjoy childhood at all. Also, it didn’t appear to be reading, as much as it was just brute memorization – and whoever learned anything that way.
Fortunately, I decided to have an open mind. It always bothers me when people criticize my choices just because they don’t agree with them, without really looking in to the subject themselves. So, I figured before I decided that this wasn’t for me, I should at least read the book. It was a very fast and enjoyable read. Doman has a very friendly, down to earth style that makes him seem like an old friend within the first few pages. Reading this book was like this huge light bulb going off in my head, again and again. A few hours later I had finished reading the book, and my life – and more importantly – my children’s lives were changed forever.
So let me tell you about the book. The book has 10 chapters:
1) The facts and Tommy: This tells the story of Tommy Lunski, a severely brain injured child, whose parents brought him to IAHP for treatment. IAHP’s original and primary goal is to help brain injured children. Tommy was reading at age 4 – and reading better then most first graders. IAHP was able to take what they learned from Tommy and soon they had a whole bunch of BI children that could read better than their well peers. This begs the question: “What’s wrong with all the well children?” So, they took what they learned with BI children, and before you know it they had lots of little babies reading.
2) Tiny Children Want to Learn to Read: There is no one that wants to learn as much as a baby. They spend every waking moment learning about the world around them. They are going to learn whether you teach them or not. This chapter explores this topic in more detail and why that is.
3) Tiny children CAN learn to read: This chapter is for all you non-believers out there (including myself, originally).
4) Tiny Children ARE learning to read: Toddlers are able to read symbols at a very early age. They know that a big red octagon means “stop” and that big golden arches mean “greasy hamburgers” This is the beginning of reading.
5) Tiny children SHOULD learn to read: Doman actually has a pretty good article on the website about why babies should learn to read.
6) Who has problems, readers or non-readers: I think that this is an obvious question, but if you are not sure than this is the chapter for you.
7) How to teach your baby to read: These are the step by step directions for teaching your child to read everything from simple words through books.
8) The best age to begin: This chapter gives you advice on how to teach your baby to read based on their age. So it gives specific advice if you are starting with a newborn, vs. all the way up to starting with a 6 year old.
9) What mothers say: This is a collection of true stories from mothers who have done the program with their children
10) On joyousness: This is probably the most important chapter of the book. There are 3 cardinal rules to doing any Doman program. They are:
If you can not do the program with complete and total joy, you should not be doing the program at all. You can not push your child. If you are not enjoying it, neither will your child – and therefore it won’t happen. You ever try to get a 2 year old to do something they didn’t want to? It doesn’t work well. If your child sees it as a fun way to play with Mom/Dad then they will be eager to learn and play.
Our results on the program:
We have now been a Doman household for about 6 months. Not a whole lot really changed, as a lot of what he recommends we were already doing. But I was able to focus more and organize our days into a more systematic way. I doubt my daughters really noticed a whole lot of difference. Doman recommends doing 5 sets of 10 words, 3 times a day (at only 1 second a word that is only 150 seconds of your day – less than 3 minutes). However, I am doing the program with 2 children, one of whom is a very active 2 year old, and quickly realized that we could really only do 2 sets 3 times a day and not feel pushed or rushed. So we reduced the sets, and kept the joyousness. A few months ago I went to IAHP and met Glenn and Janet Doman at a seminar on teaching babies to read, and what they said was that the instructions were only a guideline – do what you and your baby could handle. Just make sure you do it with Joy.
My children LOVE the program. My older daughter is always asking for “MORE” and usually gets a bit upset when I say no, but one of the rules is to always stop before they want to stop – that way they will be eager to play later. Whenever my baby hears me say “reading words” her face just lights up and she starts to pump her little arms and legs with sheer pleasure.
Is it working? Definitely. My older daughter just turned 2 last month, and has been learning to read for about 6 months - at a fairly relaxed pace. I never test her (totally against the rules), but I have heard her read about 20 words. Just before her birthday, she received a card in the mail. It came while she was napping, so I left it on an end table to show her later, and then forgot about it. Later that day, she came running to me holding the envelope and pointing at her name, saying “Hannah’s”. Also, although she has never been taught any phonics, she has made the connection on her own that letters make sounds. Last week, I was changing her diaper and she held up 2 fingers and said what sounded like “two”. So, I said, “Yes, those are 2 fingers.” She said “No, mommy. Pooh with a P.” She was pointing at her Winnie the Pooh doll. She will also sit on my lap at the computer and point to letters on the keyboard and say words that begin with them.
I have no proof that my 8 month old can read, except that I see her studying the pages of books all the time. I will say that an added benefit is that she is talking already. She said her first word about 3 weeks ago, and now says 6 words quite regularly.
Even more importantly though, my children have a zest for life and a twinkle in their eye that you don’t see in many children. With this program I hope to have put them on a lifelong quest and love for learning.
What greater gift can you give a child?
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