An introduction to Glenn Doman

February 20, 2013

in glenn doman, preschool education, Raising children, Reading

Only recently, I came across Glenn Doman and his Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential. I heard about it from another mum who enquired about kindergartens using Glenn Doman methods for early learning. Being trained in classical experimental psychology, I was extremely sceptical at first – apparently, he advocated teaching babies to read and learn maths! I decided to download all available samples of his books for free onto my kindle, read the beginning and see if it was worth continuing. To my surprise, as I started reading “How to Teach your Baby to Read“, I had to agree with many of Doman’s observations and was won over by his arguments.

Glenn Doman’s main point is that babies’ brains grow at an incredible rate, and this growth rate slows down considerably by the time they are six years old. From about six years onward, there is some more very slight growth into young adulthood, and from then onwards, any advancement in intellect and skills comes only from experience and knowledge, not from brain growth. In the same way, babies learn fastest the younger they are, and their capacity for learning slows down considerably by the time they are six – the example he gives is a family moving to a new country, and the younger the child is, the better it will pick up the new local language. Why, then, would you wait to teach your child essential motor, social and intellectual skills until they are six? Why not start at the very beginning, when they love learning and absorb new information hungrily?

His main books go through different areas of learning and provide the background of his method as well as a step-by-step how to – guide for each age group (newborns, 6 months old, 1 year old, 2 year old, 3 year old etc.). These are his main books:

I was most intrigued by his claims about motor development – babies are actually equipped to crawl and be mobile from the start, but their development is often slowed down by a lack of opportunity to practice their skills, constantly being put into car seats or bouncy chairs, rather than given tummy time to develop muscle tone. He even developed a crawling track on which even 1 or 2 month old babies can move during tummy time. Watch this impressive youtube video to see it is possible:

He recommends 4 hours of daily tummy time – obviously, in many short sessions. He always emphasises parents need to stop before the baby gets upset.

As to his claims on early reading – I do think it is possible. He advocates showing flash cards with sight words rather than starting out with the alphabet. Letters are abstract and therefore hard for children to grasp, whereas words are concrete and much more readily learned by the toddler. I have observed this myself with my daughter actually. Once I showed her the letter M and said this is for her name, now she gets very confused when I show her words containing the letter M, as she then points at the letter and says that’s her name, and when I tell her “this word says xxx”, she gets confused. So I will start teaching her only words, not letters. Numerous readers’ testimonies seem to confirm that it is possible for children to learn reading much earlier than usual by his method – I was convinced by this part, but not so much that it is really necessary. Does a child really need to read at 3 rather than at 5? I doubt it. Most experts agree that at this age, physical and social development, as well as spoken language are the key skills children need to practice. But as long as reading can be taught without neglecting these, why not?

Have you tried his methods or know anyone who has? What has been your experience?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Michele Rozier October 31, 2016 at 10:06 PM

We started it 18-years ago. Our son was born 16-weeks early and had massive brain damage covering 75% of his brain, retinopathy of prematurity which is the leading cause of blindness, an open patent ductus which required surgical correction when he was 644-grams, lung damage and oxygen dependent, apnea, a double hernia, jaundice, and a host of other minor health problems. The doctors predicted he would not live 7-hours. When he came home 108-days later, they predicted he was never going to walk, talk, see, eat, or breathe room air and suggested that we institutionalize our son. We started him in their at-home at 6-months since we were on the West Coast.

He was off oxygen by 2 and walking shortly thereafter. [“What To Do About Your Brain Damaged Child”]
Eating solid food by age 4.
Reading by 5. {“How to Teach Your Baby to Read”]
Seeing by 7. Seeing without glasses since May 28, 2013, my sister’s birthday. His last eye surgery was at age 4. His opthamologists exact words to me the very first time my son could read the “E” at the top of the chart were, “Oh my God. It’s a miracle.” Then he billed me for his time! — We love Dr. Stephen Prepas.
Honored for providing emergency First Aid at age 13 while still affiliated with the Braille Institute. [Honored by OC Council of Scouts as a Cub Scout. He earned his Physical Fitness badge thanks to the training we learned in “How To Teach Your Baby To Be Physically Superior”]

Oh yeah. He learned to fly like his Daddy!

Last week at Johns Hopkins Hospital, they declared that he no longer has hydrocephalus! For the first time since September 1998, he is “not shunt dependent”. The surgeon who put his last shunt tube in could only say, “Amazing!”

Their program worked for us. People say it was several miracles, and while we give God the glory, we still remember the 21-hours per day we spent the first few years helping the miracle become our reality. We still consider ourselves in the program. Our next goal is for him to complete his education. He got a B in freshman university physics last year at age 17, so we know he is capable of learning.


Genius Experiment November 8, 2016 at 10:57 PM

amazing, thanks for sharing!!!


Kimberly Minnis November 19, 2015 at 2:05 PM

I will try his method on my newborn granddaughter and will let you know if it works.


Genius Experiment December 6, 2015 at 10:00 PM

thanks! look forward to hearing! I did a very very mild reduced version with mine and the results are fantastic. Might be a coincidence but I am not sure!


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