Category Archives: glenn doman

What’s past is prologue

Since B is now a toddler, I borrowed some parenting books to help prepare me for toddlerhood :). After all, “a mind once stretched to a new idea never returns to its original size.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

In “Happiest Toddler On The Block,” Harvey Karp’s approach seems directly opposite to Doman’s “all babies are geniuses” POV.  Karp’s prehistoric parenting premise basically matches the four toddler development stages against 5 million years of evolution, i.e. ORP = ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny:

  1. Charming chimp child (12-18 mos) – Wobbles around on two legs, grabs everything in reach, nonstop monkey say monkey do. Walking, pointing, pinching and grabbing, manipulating tools to explore (banging, mouthing, stacking), twisting and swiveling wrists. Gestures, uses own words, mimics words/actions/ expressions learned from parents. Signing helps.  
  2. Knee high Neanderthal (18-24 mos) – Strong willed, fun loving messy. Should be able to understand and communicate 20-30 words, esp. “No” and “Mine.” Fascinated by small animals. Aping. Faster, jumping, throwing, hitting, gripping, scribbling and stringing words.  On the flip side, they are emotional yo-yos, no off switch, hard to change gears, prone to ADHD, but can learn orderliness, sorting and stacking (an area Montessori experts emphasise) 
  3. Clever cave kid (2-3 years) – Just beginning to learn how to share, make friends, take turns, use the potty
  4. Versatile villager (3-4 years) – Loves to read/tell stories, sing songs, dance … while trying to behave 😀

In tots, the right brain is stronger – this is where most experts agree (Doman, Karp). Hence, emotion and aggressive impulses dominate (Note: The right controls the left side which is responsible for details, organization, and in turn controls the right side). Prehistoric parenting involves being an ambassador to the Stone Age and engaging their right brain.  How do we do that?   How do we speak “toddlerese”?

  • Don’t talk to/at them!  Fast Food Rule = Repeat, then get your message across
  • Balance big and small praise. Compliment action not child. Never spoil praise. 
    • A child is fed on praise and milk (Poetry for Children. Charles and Mary Lamb. 1809)
    • Up to 2 years: Enthusiastic, applause, big grins. Some check if you’re watching (like B!) 
    • 2-4 years. Understated, change of tone, whispered praises
    • It takes 5 words of praise to cancel a single word of criticism
    • Side door message: Gossip aloud (stuffed animals, imaginary friends), 3rd party story (Santa, fairies, magic), reverse psychology (Opposites, “don’t brush your teeth” – haha)
  • Respect and rewards to encourage good behaviour
    • Nothing can be done without hope and confidence (Helen Keller)
    • Ask for your tot’s help, offer consistent speedy responses, let him decide in small things  (give 2 options, let him choose)
    • Play the boob. Once in while, be incompetent, clumsy, blind, weak, easily hurt, a baby like him, wrong, easily outwitted, arrogantly incorrect, a pushover, absurd, forgetful…. everyone loves bloopers!  
    • Encourage patience, delayed gratification 

Daily routine and play are proof of your love and make him want to cooperate:

  • Actively employ time-ins, a pleasurable time that you spend each day with him. Soothing routines include:
    •  Loveys or blankies (portable routines), affirmation, outdoor and creative play, reading  
    • Massage is love which is one unique breath, breathing in two (Frederick Leboyer)
    • Breathing exercises works best around 30 mos. Do them in the same time, same place, several times a week (if not every day). Begin before a nap or early evening when he’s relaxed. 
    • Special time involves setting aside DEDICATED bonus time 2-3x/day with your tot doing any activity he wants. Announce it, set a timer, do it approx the same time every day
  • Laughter stimulates the immune system and erases the effects of stress  
  • Sucking is a comforting ritual and totally normal

Spare the (rod) discipline, spoil the child 

  • Your tot’s job is to push the limits. Yours is to respectfully enforce them
    • This is how tots explore and discover the world around them
    • They are inherently impulsive, self centered and short sighted
    • Our rules can be confusing, sometimes unrealistic ==> set appropriate expectations and limits we can actually enforce 
    • We sometimes accidentally encourage bad behaviour (i.e. when they cry, we respond!)
    • Keep statements brief and positive.  Too many words work against you. 
    • Be consistent and creative.  E.g. sandwiching (“let’s read, then we can have a race to see who picks up the most toys, then we have a snack!”)
    • No mixed messages. Don’t smile when you’re serious 
  • Good tots can sometimes act “bad”
  • Use distraction and battering to get cooperation.
  • Punishments if necessary:  Ignore, remove privileges, time out (make sure you’re calm and somewhat removed — don’t say much, done the same way, don’t wait too long) 
Boulders that trip up tots:
  • Tantrums: First appear 12-15 months when emotions run high and self control is low
  • Public meltdowns: Outbursts where there’s an audience have to be tamed.  
    • Use toddlerese and then offer a detour (compromise or distraction)
    • Else, count to 3, remove him from the scene and have a time out
  • Sleep problems: Overtired and overstimulated. Sleep training needed! 18 month regression   
  • Biting: Nip it.  Respond to hunger and teething, ensure there’s sufficient outdoor play, use side-door messages to explain the rule, minimise conflict opportunities around other kids 

Month 11 Week 2: How To Multiply Your Baby’s Intelligence

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. – Mark Twain

There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots, the other wings. – Hodding Carter

It took 3+ hours to curl my hair (after 5 years!) so I managed to finish Doman’s book on “How To Multiply Your Baby’s Intelligence” as I’d been curious about their approach since that Gymnademics trial class when B was 11 months.

Why start now vs wait for formal school (primary at 6 or nursery/kindergarten at 3)

  • Learning begins from birth
  • The brain grows the most at the early stages
  • The first six years are the genesis of genius, limited only by how much material babies get to learn and how it’s presented
  • All significant brain growth is finished by six years with growth in ability dropping sharply each year
  • See this recent article on how frequent, positive stimulation can make a big difference in the early years 
  • What we do not use, we lose – the human brain has the memory capacity to hold ~3 million hours of TV shows 🙂.  What are we filling ours with? 
    • Input: see, hear, touch, smell, taste
    • Output: mobility, language, manual competence
  • When “teaching,” have fun. Tell your kid how great he is, how much you love him … often!  

How to teach your baby to read:

  • Only humans can read
  • Words must be large, clear, repeated enough, presented enthusiastically
  • The more speed, the more new material, the more joy, the better
  • Suggested sequence: Commonly used words, self/body, home objects, baby’s possessions, foods, animals, actions, colours, modifiers (pairs, opposites), x is a/an/the y z (e.g. “Mango is a sweet yellow fruit”) 
  • Suggested approach: Start with 25 words – 5 new ones 3x/day, mix order. Remove one word/day after 1 week. 5 steps: Single words => couplets => phrases => sentences => books
  • Note: I’m already reading books and flashing words with B but like the sequencing and approach which makes more sense than following the alphabet.  After all, what does “A” or “Z” really mean?!

How to teach your baby encyclopedic knowledge;

  • Suggested approach: Show 10 cards, 10 sec, 3 consecutive days. Intro related facts and sub-categories, list 1 to 12 magnitude of knowledge, expande on sub-categories
  • Suggested categories: biology, history, geography, music, art, math, human physiology, general science, language, literature
  • Note:  Instead of following Doman’s (excessively) detailed “bits of knowledge” specs, I may start a digital catalog instead (on iPad/Windows 8 tablets?). This is environmentally friendly, cost efficient with unlimited capacity given the ample real-life beautiful pictures and facts available online

How to teach your baby math

  • Intro with the facts vs intro “laws” i.e. numerals and symbols
  • Science = branch of knowledge dealing with a body of facts systematically arranged to show the operation of laws
  • Suggested 5 step approach:
  1. Quantity recognition: Use dots and patterns to intro 1 to 20
  2. Equations: Demonstrate additions, subtractions, multiplication, division
    1. Using the same dots, illustrate +, –  and x first
    2. Intro 0 – shift similar quantity dots around (e.g. 5 dots + 0 = 5 dots)
    3. Intro up to 100 (does not have to include all numbers from 20 on)
    4. Illustrate / division
  3. Problem solving: Offer choices, sequencing (e.g. 1, 3, 5, 7), greater less than scenarios
    1. Doman’s overall approach is that teaching/learning should be fun and testing should be limited to games or real-life evidences
    2. Even if they get it wrong, your response should be along the lines of “Good try, that’s actually X, this is Y”
  4. Equalities: Intro (in)equalities, fractions, simple algebra 
  5. Numeral recognition: FINALLY, digits (numbers) as we know them!
    1. Use equalities to show 0-20, mix up the order of dots and numerals 
    2. Intro 1-100 and go beyond 100s
    3. Proceed to equations with numerals

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Month 11 Week 1: Reading intentionally

These are 2 general approaches to boost speech and vocabulary: whole words and phonics. What I’m doing is combining the two when reading to B, supplementing with flash cards and picture books, using some of the tips for tots below (go here for more great reading material and tips!):

1. Your attitude and approach
– joyous and enthusiastic, approach it like a game or adventure
– teach at a time of day when both you and your baby are happy
– best duration for reading sessions is 30 seconds or less
– introduce new material when your child is ready for it – follow his lead
– be consistent with doing your program
– start as early as possible – the younger the child, the easier it is for him to learn
go here for fun ideas on reading out loud to your kid

2. Size and orderliness of reading matter
– the younger the baby, the bigger print should be used!
– size of the print is crucial to your success – very young children have immature visual pathways
– if the print is too small they get frustrated because they have to work so hard to see the type
– make a gradual transition from large to small print and from words to couplets to short sentences to longer sentences one change at a time

3. Read with mom (or primary caregivers like dad or grandparents)
– Doman believes that parents are the best teachers
– their love and confidence in their children provide the best inspiration, regardless if they are with the child the whole day or working and able to spend just a few hours a day

4. Always stop before your baby wants to stop
– one of the most important rules: the child should be begging for more
– if your child gets tired after 5 slides, show just 4, but leave him hungry for more
– don’t bore your child!

5. Keep it fun, fresh yet consistent
– introduce new material often, show it quickly
– if no interest, show it even faster, update even more often (or use sound effects!)
– show less words more often and consistently than more words occasionally
– kids learn by repetition as long as you update your material often enough
– Doman believes testing is a sign of distrust, the opposite of fun. Though … there are games/tricks that can keep your spirits up by showing that your child is actually learning, and can be even more fun for him!

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Month 9 Week 2: No right brain left behind?

A fellow mom friend invited me to a trial Glenn Doman class last weekend. Curious, I took B along for a 1:15 hour fun, fast and furious “right brain” lesson at Gymnademics. Affiliated with Doman’s Institutes For the Achievement of Human Potential, the bambino class (5 mos – 1 year) mainly covered bilingual language (English with a little Mandarin, conversational and thematic words), psycho-physical (visual tracking, lifting, twirling, balancing, pull-ups, backflips, group interaction) and music and movement activities.  Flash cards were a key tool as they believe the right brain functions at a high speed, registering input as images and processing them all at once, so the faster the stimulation, the more the brain is activated.

This was a new experience for us and I was somewhat skeptical that the babies remembered, let alone understood what they saw at the pace the cards were flashed – surprisingly though, most did pay attention. I was also informed that the class basically introduces a set of prepared activities which parents are then equipped to replicate daily at home. Overall, B managed to stay focused, even enjoying some of the stimuli.  More importantly, it got me thinking about the merits of engaging a child’s “full brain” esp. in the early years, plus ideas to incorporate at home, e.g. building up his vocab with real, beautiful pictures and big clear words, using slides or my iPad to make homemade flashcards.

There seem to be three main right brain schools:  Glenn Doman, Shichida and Heguru.  In Asia, success – be it academic or work – has typically been associated with left brain abilities such as analytical and critical thinking, and right brain abilities such as conceptual and creative thinking have largely been the domain of a niche group (artists, designers, consultants, etc.).  No surprise that these rational, competitive based skills are dominant in local formal education from 6 years on.

However, even kiasu Singapore acknowledges that this system could be outdated in the future, possibly marginalising or failing to develop the potential of our children today.  The bigger the change, the bigger the resistance — and it’ll take years for the local education system to truly evolve away from a focus on academics and grades. Meanwhile as parents, we could also reflect a more wholistic brain approach at home with our kids under 6 years (or enrol them in preschools that support this).  I’m not yet sure about joining further Gymnademics classes as I need to better understand Glenn Doman’s approach and results. It would be good though to supplement the open ended Reggio inspired play that B’s been exposed to at the Blue House, esp. after he turns 1 in a few months.
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