Re: Re5: Primrose School... [Note from Principal of Primrose School] by JB on Thu 26 Jul 2007 01:58 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: Glenn Doman method We have had a wonderful experience with this method at Primrose School. For anyone who has not seen it in action, it may be easy to put labels on it like “stuffing the children”, but in actual practice, it is far from that Here are some points on how we have experienced this method:
1. I think some people have commented on the method without actually knowing what it is. It takes up only a very small portion of the day for a child and has no interference with his play or creative art or anything else. The small video on ABC does not do it credit. Flash cards are not forced on the children for hours, they are shown ONLY for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening and only if the child wants to see them. Glenn Doman did not create his method for schools. His method is only for parents. After a training period, he wants the mother to show the flash cards to the child at home, in a very loving relationship, for only those twenty minutes. That was the original Doman method, which puts tremendous emphasis on the mother’s relationship with the child. It is not a question of being put into a ‘military’ classroom between the ages of 1 and 5. Anyone who has read Doman’s books knows that the whole key to the method is the loving relationship with the mother. The professor in the ABC video has not really given any valid reason WHY a child should not be taught to read at the age of 3.
2. Children have an enormous capacity to learn languages, even multiple languages from the age of 2 ½ or 3. It seems to come naturally to them. In our school we have children from many language homes, Hindi, Marathi, Sindhi, Urdu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam etc. You can see children in the LKG (3-4 yrs) chattering in three or four languages they have simply picked up from their friends. We start teaching Tamil and Hindi from 4 years through flash cards. By 5 years of age, the kids can read words in Tamil and Hindi with ease and this without teaching them the individual letter sounds.
3. When Doman says it is easier to teach a 3 year old to read than a 5 year old, he is very true. Why teach a small child to read instead of at the age of 6? Because it gives him tremendous self-confidence, it creates a natural reader, and reading is the basic foundation of education. The Doman flash card method does not teach the alphabet and children do not sound out words, which is the traditional way of teaching reading here in India. They see the whole word on the flash card as a graphic, and the alphabet automatically is learnt. When children come to us from other normal schools at the age of 6 and they can only read small words like “the” and “cat”, if we show the flash cards for just two weeks, they start reading fluently long sentences with the proper intonation. That is the beauty of the method. In India, the normal method of teaching is to memorise the alphabet, then spell out the words as the child comes to them. It is halting, awkward and unnatural. To see the joy on the faces of 4 year olds reading their own fairy tales is a rewarding sight.
4. We have adapted Doman’s method to our classrooms starting at the age of 2 ½, but again, the flash cards are shown ONLY for 20 minutes. The rest of the time the children sing, dance, draw, do acrobatics, play etc. In our school we take batches of children in groups of 4 to a separate room for only 20 minutes at a time and show a group of 15 flash cards, with big words like “potato chips” , “ I love” “hot”, etc. After a week we put the cards together and the children read out their first book, “I love hot potato chips!” We start at 2 1/2 years and by 5 years the children can read more than 60 of our homemade books. The key to anything is the JOY of the children. We have seen again and again that children LOVE the flash cards, they run to sit in front of the teacher, they LOVE to read and they never tire of it.
5. The brain of a child is constantly receiving stimulation and information from its environment. The professor talked about a loving environment, but when a mother parks her 3 or 4 year child in front of the TV, she is exposing it to the questionable nature of the cartoon or commercial, yet that is an accepted practice. What Doman is saying is, don’t put your child in front of the TV. Instead, at home show him pictures of animals and tell him the names. Talk to him about the animals. Answer his questions. This method makes children extremely curious. In our school, the General Knowledge cards, shown for periods of half an hour, are begun by age 3. More than 500 colourful, laminated cards have been made by the school staff with subjects such as plant species, animal species, costumes, fruits, professions, machineries, etc. Encyclopaedic knowledge is taught to the children by first teaching bits of information about any topic. The ring of knowledge is slowly enlarged until it encompasses and includes other topics too. In Upper KG the children start asking all kinds of interesting questions related to the pictures. The ring grows big enough to move from topics to subject to interdisciplinary ideas. The result is a very broad based learning, a very wide foundation to understanding, assimilating and finally creating new ideas. Besides the GK cards, information from picture books on people and other living things, places, history, geography, and other cultures are presented to the child in the form of stories, pictorial information and explanations combined together to present facts in a living, integrated context rather than as a series of separate divorced subjects. Geography is taught through colourful large maps starting in LKG. In the downstairs art room a large map of India the size of half the room floor is painted and children are encouraged to ‘walk’ around the country identifying the states, mountains and rivers. We show these word cards and GK cards for three years from pre-KG to UKG, but the actual time taken for it is only a very tiny part of our school activities. But that tiny part gives the children a wonderful skill, after which the child enters 1st standard. At that time we begin including story reading on computer, textbooks, work sheets, artistic poster making, etc. The difference between our children and children from other schools is very marked. Primrose children have a reputation in the town. They are articulate, bold, enthusiastic, happy and tremendously curious.
6. Our school is mostly urban children but we have also seen the outcome of this method with children from rural areas whose parents are uneducated. By the time they are 6 they are not only reading two languages and chattering in two languages, but they are so self-confident, so full of energy and joy that it is beautiful to see. If critics of this method went to normal Indian schools and witnessed the painful enforced silence in a room of fifty 4 year olds being forced to write small English words for two hours in a notebook, holding the pencil tightly and sometimes very painfully, they would know the value of this method for Indian schools. What can be “wrong” with a child by the age of 4 or 5 reading a simple storybook in his mother tongue or in English with full enthusiasm? Is that harming a child? Our children beg us to have school on Sunday, they don’t like to leave school at the end of the day.
7. By 2nd standard the children are encouraged to write their own stories in both English and Tamil, which are then published in the monthly newsletter. Creative writing is one of the favourite pastimes of the students who take to it eagerly. By 6th standard most children can write essays with ease. Sixth standard children have all been assigned classical novels in retold format, such as Heidi, David Copperfield, etc., and come back after a week to tell the story to the class, finally submitting a written book report.
The most basic belief at Primrose is that each child is unique and should be given the freedom to develop that uniqueness. A child should come to believe in himself with happy self-confidence. This belief must not be based on rank, or exam results, or first place in a quiz, or the fierce love of competition. In most schools, the child’s uniqueness is lost in a completely standardised system. We believe that for India, anyway, the flash card method starting at 2 ½ years of age, is a wonderful way to give children a skill that comes easily to them, that ensures they become life-long lovers of reading, that gives them a solid foundation for their future education and fills them with abundant self-confidence in their own abilities. Jareena Begum, Principal