A Review of Glenn Doman and his Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential

by | Intensive Phonics, Reviews | 22 comments

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Dear Laurie,

My son … is only 2 years old. Before I knew about classical education I was using the programs of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, where Glenn Doman is the director, to teach … to read, do math and give some encyclopedic knowledge. Up until now, … has started to read Spanish, English and start to recognize Arabic, also he has much encyclopedic knowledge.

But since I am in this Basically Bluedorn yahoo group, many mothers have the opinion that children at this age must not learn more than one language, and of course no math and science, because it can be even negative for the little ones.

One of the members sent me the following email.

Let me direct you to page 288 of Teaching the Trivium: Research indicates that if we begin such formal instruction too early, then it causes developmental problems. Stress is placed on the child’s systems–such as vision, hearing, nerves, and coordination–which are not yet fully developed. In the early years, the brain is not yet formed to handle complex abstract thought. It is better adapted to receive lineal instruction. If it is strained to go beyond its development, it will lack proper comprehension, and it will store the information in less accessible places than if it is taught these same things when the brain has properly developed and is prepared to receive it.

For me it is too hard to understand how the knowledge of math, science, learning languages, etc. can be a damage for the little children. I know that the Institutes has more that 40 years working with children with brain damage and have been successful in helping those children through teaching them math, and reading as therapy for developing damaged brains, also there are hundreds of thousand of well children that had good intellectual development because the parents teach them since they are very young. I mention the IAHP for an example, but there are many institutes of investigation around the world that have been successful in teaching babies.

I believe that love and obedience to the Lord and their parents must be the priority in this age and in all life, but why our Christian children must be behind the other children, losing the opportunity of learn in this early ages, when they want to learn, anything they can, and they enjoy many to lean? Why the science and the math that are given to us from God, can be negative for the little children?

Today a lady in the group shared the next story with us:

One of the women told a story of her son who is I think 6 or 7 years old crying….bawling in the store while they were picking out a new math curriculum because the other one wasn’t working and he was bawling because he hated math. It all kind of came together for me right then and there. Why on earth do all of these parents keep shoving this material into their brains when they are not even ready to handle it yet and for what so that they will be in tune with the ps children…….it was a painful to listen to. So for me it was a confirmation that doing informal until around age 10 is ideal and correct and my hubby is starting to understand as well. It is not as scary as I thought it was before.

Is easy to know why this child in this story was crying. He was never exposed to math when he was little, now with 6 or 7 years, he doesn’t want it, and now the member in the forum is against teaching math to her own son. We know what will happened to her own son when be 6 or 7 years old.

Please, Laurie, I know you have much experience about this matter. I am just in the beginning of the road, and your article in Spanish (Ten Things to Do with Your Child Before Age Ten) was the piece that make me orientate to classical education.

Thank You

Dear P….,

Since I will be posting this to our blog and e-letter I want to first give a little introduction to Glenn Doman and the IAHP, our short experience with their materials, and, finally, our evaluation of the Doman method.

Part I Introduction to Glenn Doman

Glenn Doman (a physical therapist) is the founder (in 1955) of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP). The Gentle Revolution Press (formerly known as The Better Baby Press) is the publisher of the books and teaching materials produced by Glenn Doman and the IAHP.

The IAHP provides on-site courses and numerous teaching materials that claim to improve the health and development of brain injured children (one of their techniques is called patterning). In addition, they claim that their programs will accelerate the development of normal children. Taken from a flyer dated late 70’s:

Many parents are discovering that the information and materials utilized in programs that accelerate the abilities of hurt kids, also can be applied to make bright and alert kids even brighter and more alert.

Taken from the web site of Gentle Revolution Press:

The objective of The Gentle Revolution is to give all parents the knowledge required to make highly intelligent, extremely capable, and delightful children, and, by so doing, to make a highly humane, sane and decent world. The Gentle Revolution proposes that tiny children have within them the capacity to learn virtually anything while they are tiny. It proposes that what children learn without any conscious effort at two, three or four years of age can only be learned with great effort, or may not be learned at all, in later life. It is now very clear that the children who are truly bright, knowledgeable, capable, and confident are the nicest and kindest children. They are full of the characteristics for which we love children. The Gentle Revolution aims to give every child alive, through his parents, his or her chance to be excellent.

Mr. Doman’s books and teaching materials (some of these books have multiple authors):

(Descriptions taken from Gentle Revolution)

1. How to Teach Your Baby to Read (first published in 1964) (262 pages, $10) — Mothers the world over have read this book and discovered the great joy of teaching their babies, toddlers, or preschoolers and giving them the gift of literacy. Reading, say the authors, is not a subject like geography, but a brain function like seeing and hearing. This exciting book presents a revolutionary idea: that tiny children should be given the opportunity to learn when it is easiest for them to absorb new information, from birth to six.

2. How To Give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge (289 pages, $10) — Imagine a two-year-old’s delight if he were able to recognize an owl in a tree, a bee on a sunflower, or a painting by van Gogh. Learning and absorbing information, say the authors, is a brain function. Very young children can absorb information without effort and find enormous pleasure in doing so. This book shows just how easy it is to teach a young child and what great fun early learning is to both the child and his parents. The authors present a step-by-step program that enables parents to create a joyous and productive learning environment at home.

3. How to Teach Your Baby Math (first published in 1979) (236 pages, $13) — This book provides parents with a simple and clear daily program for teaching small children mathematics. At the same time, the essential and close contact of learning together enriches the love and respect between parents and baby. Mathematics, say the authors, is not a subject like geography but a way of thinking and reasoning. They show clearly just how easy and fun it is to teach a young child the reality of quantity and the simple truth behind the symbols we use in mathematics.

4. How To Multiply Your Baby’s Intelligence (first published in 1983) (385 pages, $13) — Learning begins at birth or earlier, say the authors, not when formal education begins at age six. They draw upon nearly a half a century of search and discovery to show that mothers are the world’s best teachers and that tiny children can learn virtually anything they are taught in an honest, factual and joyful way. The authors emphasize that the process is a joyous one. As this wonderful book demonstrates, learning to read, to do mathematics, or gain knowledge of any subject is not a chore, for either mother or child. It is a source of fun, enjoyment, achievement and pride. This book contains illustrations of dot cards, word cards, and Bits of Intelligence.

5. How To Teach Your Baby To Be Physically Superb (296 pages, $30) — The early development of mobility in the newborn baby is a vital part of his future ability to learn and grow to his full potential. The authors show clearly each stage of mobility and how to create an environment that will help the baby to achieve each stage more easily. Full-color charts, photographs, illustrations and precise, easy, detailed instructions help parents to create their own home program. The team of mother, father and baby exploring and discovering together the joys of human mobility – from the simple but vital stage of crawling to the beginnings of the sophisticated skills of the gymnast – is the most important athletic team the baby will ever be on.

6. Kids Who Start Ahead, Stay Ahead (126 pages, $10) — Dr. Neil Harvey examines the unique experiences of more than three hundred preschool home-learners who went on to enter mainstream educational institutions. Did preschool home-learning really have any effect on the children’s classroom performance, social life, or behavior? What Dr. Harvey found opens the door to the Gentle Revolution in successful education. For over fifty years, The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential have been teaching parents to teach their babies to read, do math, acquire encyclopedic knowledge, and be physically superb. Over ten million American parents have successfully used The Institutes teaching methods with their children. Its use has spread to more than twenty-five countries, including Japan, England, Australia, France, Italy, and Brazil. But the burning question has been “What happens to these children when they get to school?” After many of these young children grew up or entered school, Dr. Harvey asked parents of these early learners how the children fared academically, physically, and socially. Dr. Harvey’s remarkable book may provide the spark to ignite a revolution in educational thinking. It lights the way to a more effective method of educating our children. With our own educational system ranking near the bottom among industrialized nations, it is time we understand that children who start ahead, stay ahead.

7. How Smart Is Your Baby? (324 pages, $17) — How Smart Is Your Baby? provides parents with all the information they need to help their baby achieve his or her full potential. The authors first explain the newborn’s growth and development, including all of the critical stages involved. They then guide the parents in creating a home environment that enhances and enriches brain development. A Developmental Profile, which parents complete, allows Mom and Dad to track the progress of their child, to determine the baby’s strengths, and to recognize where additional stimulation and opportunity are needed. Most important, parents learn how to design an effective and balanced daily program for physical and intellectual growth. When parents understand how their child develops, they can become the best teachers their babies will ever have. Best of all, this joyous program brings parents and babies closer together, establishing a life-long bond of learning and love.
Also produced by the IAHP:
Bit of Intelligence Cards — The Best Way to Learn Anything and Everything. Each of our Bit of Intelligence cards employ a beautiful museum quality, heavy stock, water resistant image on the front and ten related facts, (programs of intelligence) on the back. Children love the large 11″ X 11″ color images and the programs of intelligence help you enjoy the cards over and over again! Twenty-five sets with ten cards in each set ($19.95 per set).
Books about brain injuries: What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child; Give Me My Voice; Children of Dreams, Children of Hope; The Pathway to Wellness
Four kits are available (between $75-$140):

1. How to Teach Your Baby Math (consists of Dot Cards, the book How to Teach Your Baby Math, and a 55 minute taped instructional seminar)

2. How to Teach Your Baby to Read (consists of many large reading word cards, the book How to Teach Your Baby to Read, Enough Inigo Enough — a hardcover book, and a 75 minute taped instructional seminar)

3.How To Give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge (consists of some of the Bit of Intelligence cards, the book How To Give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge, and a 60 minute taped instructional seminar)

4. How To Multiply Your Baby’s Intelligence (consists of thirty single reading words Dot Cards 1 to 30 and four sets of Bit of Intelligence cards, the book How To Multiply Your Baby’s Intelligence, and a multi-language Picture Dictionary CD-Rom.
Also produced by the IAHP:
Picture Dictionaries (10 volumes, $30 per volume) — Each volume of Picture Dictionary CD-ROM contains fifteen categories of ten BIT OF INTELLIGENCE images. Each can be shown to your child in five different languages, including English, Japanese, French, Spanish and Italian. You can show your child the words, or the pictures, or both.
They also offer numerous on-site lectures and courses for those who want additional training. Costs for some of these courses run $1,000-2,000.
You can subscribe to The Journal of the Institutes (The IN-Report):
With regular subscribers throughout fifty states, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia, The IN-REPORT serves to record and publish the victories of brain-injured children. The accomplishments of brain-injured children who have graduated and the achievements of well children are also covered. The IN-REPORT keeps parents everywhere in touch with all the exciting new programs, books, materials, events, and people connected with the work of The Institutes. This journal is one of the best ways to learn about the progress being made in the world of kids and parents at The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. Regular reports, special features, staff biographies and columns by staff members provide invaluable information. This quarterly publication reports results of brain-injured children under treatment.
Key points made by Glenn Doman and the IAHP (the following information was taken from a flyer by Jack and Laura van Arragon — pioneer homeschoolers in Canada in the 70’s and 80’s, presented at the Fourth World Conference of Gifted and Talented Children in Montreal, Quebec in 1981):

Every child born has at the instant of birth a greater potential intelligence than Leonardo Da Vinci ever used.

Parents can produce bright, gifted and competent children in the first six years of life by using techniques of infant stimulation.

Function determines structure. The brain grows by use. Intelligence is the result of thinking and man is intelligent because he uses his brain.

Early stimulation promotes neurological development.

The critical factor here is age — the first three or four years of life, during the time of maximum neurological development. Kids learn more, fact for fact, prior to six years of age than they learn the rest of their lives, and that the ability to take in raw facts is an inverse function of age. If parents understand the development that is or should be taking place in these first few years, they can greatly enhance and increase the chances for the child to fulfill his desire to learn. Early reading is one of the best ways to capitalize on this stage and significantly increase intelligence.

The human brain grows most rapidly from conception to three years after birth, and then growth slows down till by age six it has tapered off, and it becomes difficult to affect its final level of development. It is during that growth spurt between 18 months and three years that the two functions of language acquisition (speech) and pattern perception (reading) are best developed and enhanced. After age three it becomes progressively more difficult to learn a language of learn to read with ease and fluency.. According to such leading researchers as Bruner, Kagan and Burton White, if by age three the child has not had the opportunity to develop fully his neurological functions, he has missed the boat. Using another metaphor, by age six the ball game is definitely over. From then on it requires much more radical intervention to improve the child’s mental functioning.

Brain growth and development is a dynamic and everchanging process. It may be stopped, slowed or most significantly, speeded up.

All we do is speed the process is to give kids visual, auditory and tactile information with increased frequency, intensity and duration in recognition of the orderly way in which the human brain grows.

There are five requirements for intelligence:
a. ability to take in facts
b. ability to store facts
c. ability to retrieve stored facts as useful knowledge
d. ability to combine and permutate facts and knowledge to discover new facts and laws
e. ability to use facts, knowledge, and laws to successfully solve problems of increasing difficulty and importance

Obviously then, facts are the base on which intelligence is built. Armed with that knowledge, the parents’ job then is to satisfy their baby’s insatiable desire to learn, by:
a. feeding him a huge number of facts
b. developing a system whereby the facts can be presented frequently to insure permanent storage
c. providing frequent opportunity to retrieve the facts for useful purposes
d. providing sets of related facts so that the child can combine and permutate the facts in the greatest number of useful ways
e. presenting the tiny child with increasing opportunities to solve problems of increasing importance.

In summary then, facts are the base on which intelligence is built. Without facts there can be no intelligence. Individual facts then are bits of intelligence.

An example of a teaching session with a very small child:

The parent has a stack of 10 – 8 1/2 X 11 cards, each card with a large picture of a butterfly printed on it — 10 different species of butterflies in all. On the back of each card will be numerous facts about each kind of butterfly. The parent flashes the cards to teach first the names of the butterflies only in order to recognize the butterfly by sight; later, facts about each that distinguish one from the other. The parent will flash the cards by the child a certain number of times per day, gradually adding to the quantity and variety (cats, dogs, plants, etc.). See above the Bit of Intelligence Cards sold by IAHP to help the parent with this exercise. This exercise will satisfy the child’s intense desire to learn and speeds up his neurological development, increase his intelligence, and provide a great deal of pure enjoyment for both parent and child. It is important that each card must show one bit of information that is new, precise, accurate, unambiguous, scholarly and appropriate.

Read frequently to your child from good books.

Reading is taught starting at age 18 months. Prepare a set of 30 or more white cards (5 X 12). Print one word on each card using a red magic marker. Use large letters. Mama — cookie — blanket — bottle, etc. Present one word at a time. Say, “This says Mama.” Flash the card several times each day until the child learns it. See Doman’s book How to Teach Your Baby to Read for a detailed explanation on how to teach reading.

Physical development is encouraged: crawling, creeping, climbing, running, dancing, swimming (patterning).

To teach spelling, writing, composition, grammar, literature, phonics and arithmetic in a more formal structure, I use graded workbooks for time saving, organization and continuity of subject matter. They also use blackboard and blank workbooks for teaching traditional study skills.” The van Arragons also encourage their children to pursue electrical and mechanical projects, attend concerts, participate in boating and fishing or work projects such as building or gardening, lots of individual silent reading, drawing, writing, music practice, swimming lessons, practicing outdoor survival skills, homemaking skills and trade skills. At the time they wrote this material, their oldest child (of a total of eight children) was 11.

Their personal library consists of several thousand books, a 5,000 item picture file, thousands of teaching flash cards, numerous tapes, records, games, magazines and a well-stocked supply cupboard. Their family attends meetings of the local Association for Bright Children.

Early reading promotes unusual powers of recall and speed. “Our children have near-photographic memories. They read comfortable and efficiently at rates of over 1,000 words per minute. Traditional academic subjects therefore take very little time. A unit that would take a grade school teacher a week to cover in class, can be learned by our kids in a half an hour or less, simply by reading on their own. Early readers are self motivated and invent their own creative applications.”

“I find no need to teach cognitive memory skills, speed reading, or elaborate formal phonics. These children read a page the way you or I would look at a picture. Flash. Then if they wish to savour the contents they will go back and re-read appreciatively. If there is nothing of particular value of interest to them at that time they quickly go on. This skill was not taught. It simply develops from early reading. Not only our children, but thousands of early readers (before three) demonstrate this unusual memory and effortless speed.”

End of material taken from Jack and Laura van Arragon.
Criticism of the work of Doman and his institute:

In the 1960s, psychomotor patterning was proposed as a new treatment modality for people with mental retardation, brain injury, learning disabilities, and other cognitive maladies. The method was subjected to controlled trials and found to be of no value. It was debated in the scientific literature up until the early 1970s, when the scientific medical community arrived at the consensus that is should be discarded as a false concept with no therapeutic role. Its use, however, has not stopped….. [Go here for the rest of this report]

According to wikipedia:
“This [article detailing their approach to treating children with brain injury] was published in 1960 in the journal JAMA and remains the IAHP’s only independently published research in a peer-reviewed journal….There is no independent review of their work, nor are controls used.”

Dear Moore Foundation,

Many years ago Dr. Raymond Moore released a statement concerning Glenn Doman and his Institute. I thought I had it in my files but have been unable to find it.

Thank you. Laurie Bluedorn
Dear Laurie,

It’s been quite awhile since he made the statement, although it’s possible that it is in one or more of his books. His statement, as I remember it, was simply saying that Glenn Doman did not do enough controlled research that would make his statements as to gains made, something you could take as “gospel truth.”

If I might add to that total picture, think of yourself as a parent many years ago, with a child with very noticeable handicaps and with having tried every avenue to get help for that child. Then someone tells you about Glenn Doman and/or his partner, Delcatto and their Institute. So you go, and you hear testimonies from several people in the waiting room that lets you know there is hope. You are excited to at last have a little hope building in your heart–something you have sought for a long time.

Now suppose you are ushered into his office and he and his staff do a complete workup on your child. They say, “Yes, we believe we can help you. However, we are doing a research project right now and in addition to 100 children with problems like your child is exhibiting upon which to work our methods, we need 100 control children who also have those problems, but who will not have our assistance. It is important to research to have this control group which means we will not be doing anything to help your child.”

How thrilled are you going to be to agree to be part of the “control group?” I am quite sure you would have had less hope now than when you walked in the door.

Yes, there were some children who went to their clinic, for whom little results were shown. There were many who were helped, but they either did not take the time to do a “research project,” that would authenticate their methods, or no one wanted their dear children to be in that control group.

Also, I have seen no efforts made to find out how Doman and Delacatto (who now function separately) are working, or how their methods may have changed.

I am not saying I am completely “pro” to Glenn Doman, but I have seen some very positive statements from several quarters. I have been researching learning differences all winter, tests being done by MRI’s etc;, and notice that whole schools are now using various physical exercise programs specific to helping the brain work more efficiently. Brain research as a whole is pointing out the need for physical exercise of various kinds. Some of that exercise looks suspiciously like those done by Glenn Doman many years ago!

I hope this helps,

Ellen Dana
Educational Consultant & Learning Specialist
Moore Academy
(affiliated with MA for 20 years)

Part II Our experiences with the Glenn Doman method

An excerpt from our book Teaching the Trivium:

“…Here is how I (Laurie) began to teach our oldest child, Nathaniel, to read. This is by no means a recommendation, but only the story of a small part of our journey through the school of hard knocks. When Nathaniel was just an infant, I read the book How to Teach Your Baby to Read, by Glenn Doman. This book teaches a pure form of the “look-say” or “whole language” method for learning how to read. Back in the 1950’s, I was taught to read with the Dick and Jane “look-say” sight readers, so I recognized Doman’s method as the way I had been taught to read. Since I did not know any better, I latched onto this method of teaching reading. Following the book’s instructions, I began teaching Nathaniel when he turned two. As the book directed, I made up large flash cards with vocabulary words printed on them: mommy, daddy, house, school, etc., and I drilled Nathaniel several times each day. Yes, he learned to “read” those words on the flash cards, but I found that if I skipped a day’s instruction, then he forgot all the words, so I had to begin all over again. My sister suggested that I teach him the alphabet first. I simply parroted the instructions of Mr. Doman by replying, “Oh, no, teaching the alphabet would just confuse him.” I think I lasted about three months with this method. It was an exercise in futility not unlike pouring water into a bucket full of holes. As long as I spent large and precious amounts of time each day drilling him with the flash cards, he continued to “read” them back to me. But if I failed to keep filling his bucket by drilling him with the cards, then his level of reading ability would keep dropping as his vocabulary would be draining out the holes. At about this time, I heard a radio talk show program on the subject of teaching reading by a method they called “intensive phonics.” The guest that day was Benita Rubicam, then president of what was called the Reading Reform Foundation. What she said made sense, and she immediately converted me. I read everything which that organization had to offer, and I began my search for the best intensive phonics program to use with my children. That all happened back in 1978. The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Bishop Spaulding was what I finally decided to use. At that time, it was considered to be the best intensive phonics curriculum …”

Part III Our evaluation of the Glenn Doman method

There’s only so much time in the day.

One of your concerns is that many mothers who follow our approach have the opinion that young children must not learn more than one language.

We must define our terms in order to communicate effectively. What is meant by learn a language?

There is a great difference between

1.) memorizing the alphabet and vocabulary of a language and
2.) studying the formal grammar of a language.

We would encourage children of all ages to pursue the first on this list, but to wait until age ten to pursue the second.

The ideal situation is to have the young child, in the course of everyday living, exposed to many languages spoken by native speakers. If in a particular family the mother is a native speaker of one language, the father is a native speaker of a different language, and grandma is a native speaker of a third language, and then, under ideal circumstances, the child could conceivably grow up fluent in all three languages. This sort of thing rarely happens, as far as I know. It is more often the case that a child could grow up fluent in just two languages. But keep in mind, what we are talking about here is just conversational ability in the languages, not studying the formal grammar of a language. The child picks up the languages by being constantly surrounded by these native speakers. In these situations, the child can speak the different languages fluently and has indeed learned the language.

This is far different from the Doman method of language acquisition where the child is flashed 30 different vocabulary cards in Japanese, 30 different cards in Spanish, 30 different cards in Italian, 30 different cards in French, and 3o different cards in German, all done a certain number of times a day. And then they tell the parent that their child is learning 5 languages. The child is not learning 5 languages — he is just memorizing lots of disjointed vocabulary words. At best, this is a rigorous memorization exercise.

So, yes, we believe it is beneficial for young children to learn different languages other than their own — but we suggest that the ideal way for the child to learn a language is to be exposed to it by a native speaker in the course of every day living. Most of us don’t have the luxury of this kind of a situation, so the next best thing would be to expose the young child to the alphabets and vocabulary of other languages, keeping in mind our guiding principle There’s only so much time in the day. I would suggest that you pick one or two foreign languages to work on. More than that seems excessive, unless of course, you have a precocious child who needs more.

You are also concerned that we seem to teach that the knowledge of math and science can damage little children.

We would encourage parents to expose their young children to informal math, but to wait until age ten to begin formal math. We have written at length elsewhere on what constitutes informal math as opposed to formal math. You can do a search of our archives for this topic and find lots of discussion.

Concerning science, we would encourage parents to expose their young children to all kinds of scientific knowledge and activities. Mr. Doman’s method of giving young children a scientific education is to do the flash cards. I would much rather spend 20 minutes a day reading aloud a good library book on some scientific topic or doing a science experiment than to flash 30 cards on random scientific data.

I found this review on Amazon, and would agree with the conclusion, although the reviewer seems a bit harsh in his criticism:

Doman’s techniques may work to some extent, but his view on what constitutes “knowledge” is rubbish. Like many simpletons, Doman believes trivia is true knowledge. “Bit of intelligence” is his label for a piece of trivia, implying that the human being who has memorized the most trivia has accumulated the most intelligence. If you want your child to be a Jeopardy contestant, read this book immediately. If you want your child to be a thinker, don’t waste your time and money. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest thinkers of all time, despised trivia. Do you want your child to be an Einstein or a Trabek? — Amazon reviewer

Doman’s view is to expose children to a wide range of topics and information. We would agree. We would just disagree on how to do that exposing. Like Doman, we encourage parents to help children learn in the early ages — the earlier the better. We would just disagree on how to do that helping. We believe that the Doman method is an artificial method which will quickly cause the parent to burn out. Why do we need to limit our children to the information on the back of 100 or 1000 8 X 10 laminated Bit of Intelligence cards? Since our principle states There is only so much time in the day, my suggestion is that the 2-3 hours a day you spend on card flashing would be better spent in the creative activity of reading aloud a good piece of literature. Much more of the brain is being used when the child is listening to Mother read aloud than in memorizing Bits of Intelligence.

You are concerned that our children will be behind other children, losing the opportunity of learn in the early ages, which is when they want to learn.

That’s assuming you accept the Doman idea that the only way to learn is by putting all these random Bits of Intelligence into the brain of a young child. I would not accept that idea. Yes, memorization is important. That’s all part of a trivium education. But the question is, what should our child memorize and how much time should be spent on the activity. I suggest that the Doman method is unbalanced and spend too much time on memorization to the exclusion of other activities which are just as important. Further, the data which the Doman method has the child memorize is unbalanced. We would suggest that it is more important for the child to memorize literature — Bible verses, poetry, etc. We have written extensively on this topic elsewhere.

I would also question this Doman statement:

if by age three the child has not had the opportunity to develop fully his neurological functions, he has missed the boat. Using another metaphor, by age six the ball game is definitely over. From then on it requires much more radical intervention to improve the child’s mental functioning.

Doman is basing these statements on the research of his day. Today there is plenty of evidence that the brain continues to grow even into the teen years.

I think it all boils down to What is the best use of our time? How are you going to spend that 20 or 30 or 60 minutes — flashing Bit of Intelligence cards or reading aloud or working on a project or playing or what? You might say, Well, I can do all of that and still have time for my flash cards. I would suggest that perhaps with one child, maybe you can, but if your family ever grows, then you might find it difficult.

In summary, I would suggest that the Bit of Intelligence cards are perhaps a waste of money and time. I have no problem with having beautiful cards with pictures of butterflies, flowers, and works of art plastered all over the walls of the house, and if you ever come to my home you know I like having those sorts of things in sight. But that is far different from taking those cards and spending precious time flashing them before the eyes of a young child over and over and over again.

Here are some books we would recommend:


  1. Dawne

    Hello Laurie,

    Thank you for much for including this here! 🙂 The members of the Basically Bluedorn group have been quite clear in speaking about Formal learning vs. relaxed/informal/real life learning for young children in regards to math, nature and what have you. That is certainly does not mean NO math or science, etc..

    I sincerely hope that your response is helpful to P, she is a very sweet mama.

    God bless!

  2. Steve

    Thank you for taking the time to compose your thoughts on this subject.

    My son was on the IAHP’s intensive program from 1986 to 1990. In our case some parts of the program (the physical part) were very effective and some (the intelligence part) were disappointing. I used to maintain a website (now archived) that discussed this in detail, and I’m currently trying to complete a book about it.

    Like most IAHP critics, the Amazon reviewer you quote is so ignorant of the rationale behind what is being attempted as to be irrelevant. That’s not to say valid criticisms cannot be made.

    It’s sad to think that bit cards are a waste. I still have thousands of them, and they represented an enormous investment just in terms of the time and care that went into making them.

  3. Jennifer

    Dear Laurie,

    I just read your blog article on referencing Glenn Doman and IAHP. I think your position was clearly stated. However, since my family has experienced this organization and therapy method from the side of the injured child, I wanted to offer our experience and observations in case there are families that may be considering IAHP as a therapy option.

    My son turns seven this summer. He suffered a brain injury at birth, and we started the IAHP intensive program when he was seven months. It was a high demand therapy program required to be done 7 days a week/every week of the year. (No days of rest.) Our therapy program took every waking moment of my son’s day plus considerable additional time for me to prepare his intellectual program materials. (For many families, a therapy day was from 8-10+ hours.) We continued with IAHP for three years, and completed another year in a clinic opened by one of IAHP’s former directors. We did all of the programs faithfully…the intellectual and physical programs you referred to in addition to many programs geared specifically toward brain injured children. We also have a number of “victories” listed in the IN-Report that your blog referenced. Yet, this method did not address the primary areas of concern for our son. After our four years with this therapy method, we changed to another therapy.

    At our new therapy facility, many of the other clients we have interacted with are either former IAHP families or have worked with another organization that spun off of IAHP. Our personal observation is that the other families that we know from our IAHP class are now pursuing other methods as well. In spite of the significant amount of time and energy invested faithfully following the IAHP methods, we did not find that “function determines structure” in the case of our hurt children. In reality, for some of our kids forcing the function and the patterning that many of us did so faithfully actually worsened the structure of our children. We now have to undo the damage done by patterning before further progress can be made.

    The lack of a control study that was referred to in your blog is something that was addressed during our personal contacts with IAHP staff as well as addressed in their lectures. The response is precisely the same as what was in the letter from the Moore Academy you quoted. In reality, I agree with the challenge of not having a willing control group. We would not have consented to be part of a control group, nor would the others we interacted with. However, I am no longer satisfied with that response either. Maybe a good alternative would be to conduct a follow-up study to see how many former IAHP clients were satisfied with the experience and would recommend IAHP to others.

    I am not on an anti-IAHP campaign. I have in the past shared our recommendation with others only when they have sought it out. And, there are some things we did that did benefit our son’s particular situation. Yet overall, considering our experience and the experience of those we know personally, I would be sad to think a family would access the IAHP website via your blog and pursue it for their hurt child without some kind of caution also being made available. As I said, I think your position was clearly stated. However, having been in the mode of searching for answers for our special needs child, I realize some may visit the IAHP website and consider pursuing it anyway. It is for those that I have written this. I feel there are better alternatives now available.

    Thank you for all you and your family have done in providing encouragement and direction through your books, website, and blog. As a result of these resources, my family has re-evaluated many of the principles and teachings we were formerly taught. The method you recommend is by far more gentle and joyful.

  4. P

    Thank You Laurie:

    Is very interesting all you say in the blog , but at least in my case I have a total different situation, After 3 months of teach to read Octavia English/Spanish (and use around 200 cards ( I made this cards my self) my son is starting to read new words in English , (200 cards is more that enough for teach a children to read, If somebody do more that 200 cards, this person need read the book again) ,The new vocabulary come from read new books each day, More books Octavio books, more that he learn, and off curse, I use the same method for teach him to read The Greek Alphabet, and he start to spelling Greek words using the names of the Greek letter, also he is doing some arithmetic,

    I’m sure that like in all the things, some people have no success at all develop their children; also is many people that after try to home school their children finally they send them back to the school, if we only read about these experiences, we will have a wrong idea about Home school. I prefer follow the people that have success in something and learn what they did.

    I leave the Yahoo’ groups Basically Bluedorn, ther was many stories of children crying when learn, and I don’t want this to my son. I want he always wish learn more things, and be happy when I bright new books to home. And I will follow the ideas in this way

    Thank You for answer my email,

  5. P

    By the way,

    Are no parts in Dr Doman books ( and I read 4 of books complete) where say that parents must to spend hours teaching the young children, actually they make emphasis is short sessions no longer of 15 seconds, and no more that 3 times per day, Also I never read in those books, that children more that 6 or 10 years old or any people of any age can’t learn anymore, What the books say is that in the first years the capacity of learn facts (grammar) is big because the way of the brain grow,. My example is that I have 4 years living in Saudi Arabia and I can’t say more that 2 words in Arabic (Salam Aleko) I can’t read even a single letter in Arabic, but Octavio, that is all time with me expose to the same things, and have the half of the time living here (because is only 26 months old) can read many Arabic words. How is possible? Something about the neurology studies of the brain development must be right.

    In Honduras the people like to say: Half of the True is the same that half of the Lie, Complete information of the facts gives a better idea of the reality. I give opinions about this books because I read complete them and I put some ideas to the practices.

    I spend 15 second per day (during 10 days) teaching Octavio the Greek Alphabet.

    I still have a question: Lorie why you put all this prices of the books and the slices in the article you write about the Institutes? Is important mention that? This make look the Institutes like a just a Press Business, and we know that is no like that. For example I made all the bits by my self follow the instruction of the books, and using free internet information, I never spend money in Greek Cards, is not necessary. I think that if we give the knowledge to the people for each one make the owner material, we will help more to the education of our children

    Blessing for all the members of Basically Bluedorm and Bluedorm Family, I meet some wonderful people there, and I’m sure each one of us will have many successful in our home school mission, each one in our own way


  6. Perla Sarmiento de Adams


    Around one year ago I started this discussion about the IAHP, I was complete convinced ‎and blind about the possible results in teaching my son to read using the Instruction of the ‎How to Teach your Baby to Read by Dr Glenn Doman, I actually see some small result ‎when my two years old son was able to read singles words in English, Spanish and ‎Arabic.‎

    But, now I must admit that after more that three thousand cards, hundreds of homemade ‎books and thousand of Encyclopedic Bits ( hard work), my son does not reed more that ‎any other three years old child. ‎

    One year ago Laurie told me the true that I did not want to see, and I apologize for that, ‎she was absolute right in her opinion and I was absolute wrong, I think the problem was ‎not the cards or the bits, I still I am happy with all the new information that I win doing ‎those bits and the nice time I spend teaching those to my son, but the premise was wrong ‎trying to make my son ahead just because, when the important it is helping him to serve ‎to the Lord and the others. I had learned the lesson.‎

    The reading program as described in the book, did not work for my son, he depend of me ‎to continue winning information, Now, I am looking for a phonics approaches and little ‎to little I will help my son to learn to read but with humbleness.‎
    ‎ ‎
    All the collection of bits about different topics that I had teach to my son (human ‎anatomy, geography, astronomy, Latin, Greek, etc) are in a website, you are invited to ‎visit it and download anything you want (www.theclassicalmommy.com) Still I am ‎changing the articles to match to the result of my conclusion, but I can not wait to post it ‎here, since was the first place when I receive the true and sincere guide and this matters.‎

    Bye for now

  7. Terri in WA

    Perla, bless you for being so honest and humble. You are truly a seeker and a wonderful mommy!

    Terri in WA

  8. john jones

    I have used Glenn Doman’s method, however, I didn’t seriously believe that I could teach babies to read. I think we need to be realistic. There are certain abstract concepts that babies cannot apprehend in infancy. Remember Piaget? This does not mean, though, that there aren’t awesome benefits to be gained by using the flashcard method, as it’s called. Ideally, you should try this on the youngest child you have. It really is for babies. This method has been shown to increase visual discrimination, acuity, and strength. It also enhances the power of recall and increases memory and retention of facts. I really like the part in Doman’s book on multiplying your baby’s intelligence, where he speaks about the Law of Permutations. Any time you increase a child’s knowledge of a certain subject in an orderly way, he learns the subject exponentially. I have shown the cards to many kids, and they have responded well and retained. I also noticed that the kids to which I showed the cards learned faster as they got older, and remembered better.

  9. alie

    Ihave a son of 6yrs and iam really interestedin Glenn DomanMethod, can you inform me about what kind of book i can use for my son?, I just discover about this method today from local magazine and myson turn six by tomorrow … many thx

  10. Perla Sarmiento de Adams

    Hello Alie:‎

    If you accept a suggestion from a mother that did all those programs consistent a whole ‎year, and also received the Institutes seminars, please before read the Doman’ books, ‎check the books Einstein Never Used Flashcard, and Endangered Minds, there is explain ‎the consequences, the history behind this methods and how from little scientific research ‎in other areas, some companies come out with products to teach children. ‎

    Those methods are popular because they tell the parents (especially to the mothers) what ‎they want to listen, yes, some lies are sweet to the ear, but continue being lies and do not ‎work. ‎

    Bye, bye

  11. Connie Tay

    I think all of you missed the main point or reason for any program whether Glenn doman or Shichida or phonics.. that we want our children to learn. But how can children learn if they dont like to learn? I started on GD Maths program when my baby is 6mths old and the first topic that the trainers started on was RESPECT.I was also told not to test the child. It says the baby should love the sessions and will ask for more if the program is done right. My baby is now 8 mths old and viewing some of the videos of the sessions that was taped, i realised how much my baby enjoys the sessions with me. She may not focus at the cards like what we adults think they should but she focuses on me and my eyes. Most importantly, she laughs and smiles alot.She sometimes gets excited when i ask if she wants to do her Maths! So the moral of it all is, I treated the sessions as bonding time and nurturing my baby’s love for learning. And i believe love for learning alone will enhance my baby’s future. And learning requires reading..Whether or not she can read those words back to me, I am not worried now. Basically I do not need a genius, I just need a happy, independent thinking person who loves learning. I am not sure if that will happen but the one thing I am sure of is I will not regret having done my part as a parent to try teaching my baby and make learning a fun as possible. Time should not be wasted, our children grows too fast. I belive by 10 yrs old, most of their character and thoughts of thinking would have been formed and it might be too late to turn back the clock..Lazy parents teaches their own kids to be lazy. I did not sit in any preview or sessions to hear sweet lies before I decided on Glenn doman program. In fact I decided against Shichida method classes simply because the marketing tools and preview video was too good to be true! I dont need my baby to have photographic memory, speaks 5 languages, super perfect pitch or is a human calculator, I just want her to be happy. I believe every program out there has, to a certain extent, some impact or reasoning but our children are not the same, they are individual, what works for one may not work for the other. But if learning makes her happy, then am sure she can still speak 5 languages or be good at maths or music or sports all by her own ability to learn simply because she wants to. So I will continue to make learning fun for her in terms of singing, phonics or whatever.

  12. ari-free

    One should read John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography. Yes, he was taught with flashcards: “I have no remembrance of the time I began to learn Greek, I have been told that it was when I was 3 years old. My earliest recollection on the subject, is that of committing to memory what my father termed vocables, being lists of common Greek words, with their signification in English, which he wrote out for me on cards.”

  13. Julie

    How does one buy the materials like the large blank cards cheaper than on the website. I am on a budget and want to set this program up for my daughter but the price for supplies on line is very steap. Or better yet where can i get used ones.

  14. Hasnaa

    I am a new mother and my baby is less than a year old.
    I would like to do the right thing and I do not have lots of time as I am working.
    What is the best way if I am to spend few hours quality time with him?
    Any feed back on how to construct a daily routine and help him reach his potential are very welcome.
    Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and findings.

  15. sabrina

    I see lots of replies regarding glenn doman’s way for well children to get ‘more’ intelligent etc etc. However, i am still not clear for the brain-injured child – does his way work or not? Seems only one comment or review given on that basis, anymore?

  16. Laura

    Sabrina – I noticed your question about brain injured kids & wanted to reply to let you know of our experience with Doman’s methods with our now 4 year daughter who has Down syndrome. Kids with Down syndrome are considered brain injured according to IAHP. The program has helped her in all aspects – physicall & intellectually, but most notably in her reading ability. She was able to read simple commercial print stories by the time she was 3.5 & this fall, just a couple of months after her 4th birthday, she was evaluated at a 2nd grade level. Reading has helped tremendously in other areas, especially with her speech. It is so helpful in everyday life too. She can read signs, & follow directions such as reading the instructions in her math work book.

    Hope this helps

  17. Laura

    I commented a year ago on how helpful Glenn Doman’s program has been for my daughter who has Down Syndrome. I just want to update my comment.

    K is now 5 years old. She is attending school with typical children. The only time her diagnosis is noticeable is occasionally in gym class. For the most part she still keeps up but during games with more running most of the other kids pull ahead. Academically though she is still way ahead. She is working on a grade one math curriculum, enjoys identifying countries on a world map & is an avid reader who is able to sound out new words & draw conclusions from what she is reading. We had her reading tested about 4 months ago. Her reading vocabulary was just under a 4th grade level & her comprehension was at a mid 2nd grade level.

    I really can’t see how any of this would have been possible with traditional teaching methods. We haven’t used flash cards since K was about 3.5 but at that time she could remember new words after seeing them only once or twice. Even in the beginning ( we started at under a yesr of age) we only spent 1 or 2 minutes at a time, several times per day to teach her. It has been an incredible benefit for a small investment of time – & she still loves her flash cards. Other areas of her program have taken more time but it has still been well worth it to see the confident, independent 5 year old that I have today.


  18. Maciej

    I’v read those comments with great interest as
    I have just got the GD books and been doing language program with my 18 moth old son since Christmas – it has almost been 3 weeks.

    GD’s method really sounds to good to be true, and with this mindset of mine it was hardly possible to avoid testing my son’s progress.

    Sometimes he seem to recognize one or two cards confidently from the current lot but this passes and it seems after few days he has no clue on the meaning of the cards whatsoever.

    There is one great benefit though. Yesterday he started noticing the words in the books (he has got plenty of books already being read daily) and requests reading the words repeatedly pointing at them.

    Perhaps the whole mystery behind the success of these programs is that they set parents to start teaching their children earlier and more frequently than they would otherwise. Well, even GD says in his book that any kind of early teaching brings huge results, regardless whether his program is followed or not.

    And when parents go together with their child into process of teaching, the child unfolds curiosity (or perhaps just its curiosity is directed) and boosts its strive to learn.
    That I think resonates with what Connie told above.

    Thanks Laura for the post and the update, that is all amazing story I am going to read your blog.

    BR, Maciej

  19. Jennifer

    I read the Glenn Doman books about 20 years ago. It all seemed completely logical to me and I made plans to use the method with my child when I had one. I also drank in any other research about early childhood education I could find. Well, I gave birth in 2012 and started with “bits of intelligence” as soon as his vision allowed him to focus on the cards. My child showed little to no interest in the cards and no matter how faithfully I kept with the schedule, he did not seem to retain the information. Eventually, on his own time, he let me know when he was ready. He suddenly showed a huge interest in numbers and wanted to know what their names were. I should add that I am an American married to a Japanese man and raising our son in Tokyo. My son was 18 months old before he really had any interest in learning by any structured method. He is now 20 months old and in only 2 short months through his own motivation and my answering his inquiries, he can name all of the numbers 1 to 10 in English and Japanese. He learned the letters of the alphabet on his own by watching a youtube video I found that presents the letters driving across the screen with wheels (he is obsessed with anything with wheels). I have recently converted my “bits” cards into small playing card materials which we are having rapid success with. To start, I put down one picture card with the corresponding English or Japanese kanji card and we just point to them and I say the word. I wasn’t thinking when I selected the first group of English cards and chose “cat”, “car”, and “cow”. Even with those 3 words being so similar in appearance, he mastered them in one day and continues to be able to match the words with the picture cards when we play. The Doman method may work for some infants. I still believe the theory behind it is sound. But for my child, 18 months was the correct timing for his reading to begin. Suddenly in 2 months time I find I cannot make materials fast enough for him to drink them in. As a side note, he basically hates being tested. If he offers answers for me on his own I make a huge celebration out of it but I have found he won’t even demonstrate his abilities to others for more than one pass at a time. I took my child’s interests (Thomas and friends) and made playing card size reading cards and super simple homemade reading books tailored to his obsession to start. That made it very easy to introduce new material that was less interesting to him because he already got a taste of how helpful this whole learning thing was for him. Parents know best what their children’s interests are and should use that to begin a teaching program. Parents also know best when their child is ready to start or when to hold off for a couple of weeks and try again. Any of these theories or research is fine to use as a guideline, but all children are unique and need a unique program designed specifically for them as individuals.

  20. ari-free

    I don’t agree with Doman’s approach. However, those who claim that kids aren’t ‘developmentally ready’ are basing that assertion on Piaget’s research on his 4 kids. Not exactly the controlled blind testing of serious research.

  21. adelina kelly

    i took the Glen Doman’s. 5day video Course in 1981. when my son. J. was 3. yrs. old and daughter T. was 1. 1/2. yrs. old. That was the best 500 $. investment. that. my husband and i ever made..Within a year they both started taking violin lessons and i did the “Bits.” right after the course..staying up many. late nights making up the cards myself.. When my son was. 5. i was ready to put him to kindergarten. ..but the principal,suggeted giving him the typical school testing since she heard him reading. some books at home….Results: Reading at Gr. 5 level, Math at Gr.3. So we decided ro Home. School both of the kids …This was in the early ’80’s. We were one of the very few families in B.C. doing this…We did not go to any Associations at that time.. We enjoyed our time with these children, travelling with them and lesrning new things with them…made a few mistakes..negrlected a few subjects,, missed a few sports events…BUT.. we have now two independent. adult children, each working in their own chosen professions…..They did well in Colllege after years of Home Schooling.. One of my regrets is: i was too serious about teaching them instead of just enjoying the moments of learning. Glenn Doman is right about Testing.. DON’T. They eventualll did let us know what they know. like when we were passing by a building displaying the flags of the world and my 3. year old daughter exclaimed..MALA. ( the flag of guatemala). CANDA (canadian flag). . i was worried that. she . was not reading at 5 years old like her older sibling…but she did eventually learn to read. .
    So my. advice to those planning to Home School. ..enjoy the learning moments . with your kids…
    give them love and understnding…inspire them to achieve the best that they can do and be…treat them with respect…apologize when you make a. mistake ..
    Know that whatever time you spend with them is never wasted…if you do it with love and joy.
    if you are trying to, build. your career choose..to postpone that . or go ahead and concentrate on it and send your kids to school..and spend any time left to enjoy time with them..
    you cannot do both. homeschool and build your career.
    Above all, let them learn from your example, there are things in life more important than material success.or. academic performance….Glory be to God whose power working in us can do Infinitely MORE. than we can ask or imagine!

    Another regret is NOT. teaching daily home chores..since it was easier and faster to do them myself…They had to learn it the hard way. when they started living on their own and living as married people,..And finally not realizing that even though they were academically well developed i neglected their emotional development…That’s also being learned eventually… I must say with confidence that when i look back the time my husband and i spent with them in Home School has prepared them to. live the life they are living now. .They both want to homeschool their children in the future.


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