Monday, November 17, 2008

Math (Dots)

We followed Glenn Doman's guidelines regarding the math program, almost to the letter. We did numerals through dots (1-100) and used them to teach multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction. We taught square roots. Timothy most certainly learned - he could pick 47 or 92 out of a pile, and he could answer questions immediately that I had to use a calculator to double-check.

He was never able to VERBALIZE the answer, though. I can ask him "What's 10 plus 24?" and he'll just make something up, like 2.

Plus, he's not showing much interest in math dots. He just doesn't want to do the dots. He likes to count and he likes to play with patterning cubes and he likes to do a balance, but he just doesn't care about the dot cards.

What bothers us, a bit, is that he can verbalize all of the other things he's learned. We can ask him "Who was the second president - Adams or Washington?" and hold up pictures and he'll both say the right answer and touch the right answer. Bits and reading he can remember and verbally recall, but not so much with math.

As we start our new curriculum next month, we're trying to figure out what to do with dots. MFW (My Father's World) teaches counting and numerals to 100, but we'd still like to reinforce the dots (especially since I don't think a child could just forget something he learned that quickly). Perhaps Timothy is just not interested but he still knows it.

So we're going to ease up on the math program a bit and just focus on one number a day and then corresponding equations with that number. One thing I'm really going to work on is the verbalization - "today we're talking about 23. Say twenty-three!!"

If it works, then that's good. If it doesn't work, it seems like he's still good at traditional two-year-old math (he can do patterning, he can count to 20, he understands greater than and less than) and no harm was done.

This is the first time we've been a bit frustrated with Doman, though. I've read of so many parents who do the full math program and their child excels and then just suddenly "loses" the math does that happen? Why does that happen? It seems like they really need to do more research in this area.

I am 100% convinced that at 11 months old Timothy knew the answer to 24+54-21, but now he acts like he doesn't. I don't know if he's not interested or if he's going through a phase or if he legitimately doesn't know.


  1. I have been following your story (here, and on ChildBrain and Parents with Purpose) for quite a while, not only because what you write is so interesting in and of itself, but because you are so faithful in following Doman's ideas. I respect Glenn Doman a lot, and owe him much; what's more, I want his theories to be true. But as you well know they are sorely lacking in hard, clear evidence of the kind one can share with skeptics.

    The math program is not only the one I find most fascinating, but the one I think that matters most. I take that back, partially -- I actually think the bits program matters most, because of the way knowledge begets interest which begets more knowledge. But both knowledge and reading can be acquired at a later age, while the instant math abilities are normally limited to a few prodigies.

    When I heard of children who did well with the dots program and subsequently lost it, my theory was that of "use it or lose it." We know that part of the growing process in the human brain is not only forging connections, but also pruning them. Most parents can tell stories of things their children knew as preschoolers that they then forgot completely. We know a boy who as a toddler could tell you the make and model of nearly every car on the road; a couple of years later he didn't even remember that he had once known them. When our babies were learning to swim, the instructor told us we would need to continue giving them opportunities to swim regularly and frequently; a break of just a month could cause them to forget all they had learned.

    But you have been so faithful and regular with Timothy's program that it appears something more is going on. One possible clue is something I read just the other day -- and is the reason for this long comment. It's a New York Times article entitled Savant for a Day. I believe you'll find it fascinating. It raises the question of whether perhaps we all have these kinds of instant math skills latent in our brains, but that they become suppressed when we develop higher-level thinking skills. (See the story of the 10-year-old "who was hit on the head and immediately began doing calendrical calculations of baffling complexity.")

    I'd like to think that one could keep both the instant math and the higher-order skills. I certainly hope Timothy re-awakens his interest in the dots before he does forget them altogether. But it's not worth getting hit on the head for. :)

  2. Hi, I recently posted a blog after having a phone conversation with the IAHP about the math program. The whole "math mystery" is starting to make more since and thought I'd share it with you all here! Enjoy!

  3. I'm really glad you called them and posted the link here - that really does clear a lot up. But I still think the book might be a bit misleading, because I honestly thought the child would be able to look at cows in a field (as the book says) and instantly recognize how many.

    But all is not lost! The whole purpose is to grow the brain, and we're certain that it does that. So anything else that happens is just "icing on the cake"

  4. I agree, and it upsets me that they didn't make this more clear in the book. I had always believed that a kid would not only have quantity-recognition skills for life, but instant arithmetic. Apparently a kid could be doing arithmetic and just lose it if it wasn't internalized enough. With all the dozens of stories of failure I've heard about the math program, you'd think they would make it a point in their book to warn parents about the potential loss.

    Oh well, at least there's finally some insight as to why this confusing thing happens, so we can take steps to prevent it. And like you said, even if abilities are not retained the program wasn't without purpose, as it grows the brain and I'm sure helps a lot in future understanding of math. Wishing Timothy the best, keep up the great work! :)

  5. This is a reply to elizabeth's comment about doman warning parents about the failure of the math program. The man is trying to make a buck, so why tell you that the program does not work?

    As far as warnings go, I found many dealing with the program in general and some with the math program on its own. They all say similar things. Basically, children tend to forget things forced on them at early ages.

    Texaslady made a comment about how she expected her son to look out into a field and instantly recognize how many cows are in it. She almost seems disappointed by the fact that he cannot or simply doesn't want to. Is she disappointed that her son is normal for his age, or that she can't go on and on about how smart her child is.

  6. I'm a bit disappointed by the fact that Glenn Doman's math book says that if you follow his program a child will be able to do something which, in turn, is only true *somtimes*. Wouldn't you like to be able to look into a field and know, instantly, how many cows are there? Wouldn't you like to be able to instantly recognize quantities? Of course--who wouldn't? And I wish the same for my son.

    But I would still do the math program again--I'm not exactly certain that he doesn't know true quantities, and the foundations for mathematics have been laid, which is what really matters. It's about giving the child opportunity.

  7. To comment on "anonymous'" comment, it's a shame that you would say something like that when you're clearly not familiar with the organization. The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential is a non-profit organization, and they are ANYTHING but those early-learning gurus who are just out there to "make a buck". Yes, it disappoints me that they didn't make things about the math program more clear, but that is not to say that they're just out there to steal peoples' money by getting their hopes up about their babies' potential. The reason they HAVE the books is so parents can do the programs at home, with very little cost. Other learning programs, like Shichida, are not like that - they require you to spend thousands of dollars on their courses, special products, etc. There are hundreds of websites out there promising to make your baby a genius for only $68.99 a month, etc. TweedleWink, Your Baby Can Read, Leapfrog, and tons of others are all about selling products to people to "give their baby an early advantage". Not that these products are bad, but the goal is to sell people stuff, usually for a hefty price. Doman, on the other hand, makes all of this information practically free to parents, all you have to do is check out their books at your local library to learn how to conduct these programs with your child, at home, with very little cost.

    Also, it's a shame you would say that these things are "forced" on children. In case you haven't read ANY of the posts on this blog, you should take note that nobody has to "force" Timothy to learn. It's a myth that the only way you can get a kid to learn math is to duct tape him to a chair and flash cards at him for 16 hours a day. As Glenn Doman says, "Those who say we must not rob the child of his childhood by inflicting learning on him tell us nothing of the child's view on learning but a great deal about what he himself thinks of it."

    The math program certainly CAN work. Maybe Timothy is just ready for numerals, which would explain the disinterest in dots. I don't doubt that Timothy can still do math. My son, 3 1/2, still does math dots, wonderfully, although we're moving onto numerals because he experience a similar disinterest as Timothy is. The program is not just a lie thrown out there to steal peoples' money. You should check your facts before making such untrue statements like that.

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