Glenn Doman Method: How to Teach Reading Before the Age of 3

Education is and always has been a fundamental issue for human beings. Many theories and methods have been developed with the aim of promoting learning and improvement of the education system and the acquisition of knowledge and skills and the empowerment of the exploration, interests and skills of each individual.

In addition to the more traditional and employee methods, there are many alternative methods of educating. One of the best known is the Montessori method, but there are also other methodologies that are also valued and used today, such as the Glenn Doman method of teaching reading to very young children. In this article, we briefly explain what this method is, especially in its program for learning to read.

    The Glenn Doman Method for Reading: Definition and Objectives

    The Glenn Doman method suggests that human beings are capable, curious and even want to read from an early age, Have a potential for this ability from the first years of life. From its starting point, it is considered that in the first six years of life, the capacity to learn is much greater than that which will be acquired for the rest of life.

    initially was designed to help promote the learning and development of subjects with disabilities and head traumaBut over time, it spread to childhood in general. Although in this article we focus on learning to read, the author has also created programs to stimulate other skills and abilities early on such as learning math, music or activity. physical.

    Some theoretical foundations of the method

    The author suggests that it is from the age of two that the most appropriate and useful moment begins for learning to read, because it is about a moment in the subject’s life when there is great curiosity and it has a plasticity that allows you to acquire small information very easily and with enthusiasm. It is suggested that from there it will be a little more complicated to learn to read. It is considered that a child can learn to read words from the age of one year, and can read sentences from two years and simple books from three years.

    The original idea is for parents to apply it at home in a flexible way and try to make it fun, like a game. The methodology involves the use of cards that will be shown to the child several times a day, over short periods of time and in series of 10 stimuli. It aims to improve learning by stimulating and optimizing babies’ curiosity and desire to learn. This facilitates teaching and learning, improves skills and prevents or prevents possible difficulties.

    It is based on the idea of ​​bits of intelligenceBasic units of information that the child can understand or understand. This element must be representative of a single idea and it must be new to the subject. Based on this idea, the baby can learn to connect letters without knowing the alphabet: it is about understanding the concept itself and associating it with the word.

    Bits should be chosen carefully, creating five sets each containing 5 of these elements. A brushstroke will be made, the adult reading aloud each of them and letting a few seconds pass from one series to another. After finishing, it is essential to reinforce the behavior of the child, Having to learn to be celebrated and experienced as a fun and communicative game.

      To consider before teaching …

      There are two things of great importance when using the Glenn Doman method and generate concrete learning in reading skills: the attitude of parents / educators and the use of material adapted to the child’s abilities.

      Parents’ attitude

      One of the most important aspects and indeed it is to a large extent what can enable the acquisition of such complex skills is the approach or approach adopted in this regard by those who teach them.

      It is essential to consider reading as a game, as an enriching activity that is practiced for pleasure and which is desirable in itself. Reading should be a reward, not a punishment. The child is fundamentally interested in learning and exploring, but won’t if they end up associating it with something aversive.

      Another aspect on which the author places particular emphasis is the length of the learning sessions: they must be short and end before the child wants and expresses that he wants them to end. It is a question of the little one not only of not getting tired, but of wanting and feeling called to read, even to ask for it.


        We teach a child under three to read: We’re not going to start with Don Quixote or a Shakespeare play. The material we use should always be appropriate and take into account the abilities of the child.

        We have to use simple materials: it is recommended to use white cards of a certain level of rigidity. A single word or sentence (at more advanced stages) per card, in lowercase, will be written in clear lines and always in the same font (which should be easily visible). The size of each letter should be very large and maintain some separation between letters and from the margins.

        The author proposes that these materials include words such as father and mother, parts of the human body, words about the world or the immediate environment, vocabulary for constructing sentences and paragraphs, a book with simple vocabulary and a series of cards with the alphabet. The first word size is initially recommended 12.5 by 10cm, and each card measures 15 by 60cm, in red. The size of letters and cards decreased as we progressed in learning, change the color to black of words that correspond to the immediate environment.

        Think of it like a snap

        Many people are likely to be interested in this method in order to enable their babies to acquire the ability to read quickly. However, it should be borne in mind that regardless of the ability of the baby to acquire this skill, it should be widely evaluated whether it is appropriate or not and how this method is put into practice.

        And this is it it is essential to make learning fun and enjoyable for the baby and not an imposed and repetitive obligation. It’s about thinking of it as a game that allows them to experiment, communicate, socialize and have fun. In this way, the baby associates learning with something that produces joy and stimulates it. In fact, if it is posed as a simple imposition that the baby ends up boring this learning and may have more problems in its acquisition.

        Proposed phases for learning to read

        The Glenn Doman Method, in its program for learning to read, proposes the realization of a series of phases which must be applied in short batches, Showing joy and making the process an element of leisure and union between parent and child.

        visual differentiation

        As a first step, it is essential to teach the child to read in a few words, by suggesting the use of two. Later, they will increase. Location is also important and you should look for a point where there are no big distractors.

        The procedure is simple: put the word in front of the child and tell him what he is putting on without further explanation. The word can be seen for about ten seconds, To then take it out of sight and continue showing affection for a minute or two, after which the process will be repeated. And so a third time. The previous round would form a session, which would be repeated five times on the same day separated from each other for at least half an hour.

        This process is carried out on the first day. In the second, the same is started by conducting two sessions. In the third session of the second day there would be a small change: he is introduced to the word and asked “What is this?”. Wait about ten seconds. If the child responds with the word, a great level of joy will be shown, he will be praised, and pride and affection should be expressed even physically through hugs. This reinforcement is only emotional, not accompanied by anything material.

        If the miner doesn’t say the word or mistake, there’s no need to scold nor show any disappointment. We proceed to say with joy “it’s X, isn’t it?” Usually learning is quick. No other word is taught until the first has been learned.

        The same method would be used for this. It is important not to overlap the words until the child has learned them separately.

        After knowing them, the child is shown the first one and asked to identify it. After that, the first is always displayed, and the second word is taught with the other hand, which you are also asked to identify. Once done, the two cards are placed in front and the child is asked to indicate one first, then another. It is about teaching him to visually differentiate the stimuli. Simple and basic words like mother and father are generally used in this step.

        The vocabulary of the body

        In this second step, it is based on the same principle as the previous one, but adding to sight and to the ear the sense of touch. We first take the part of the child’s body that we are talking about and we are told what it is. After that the card is kept with the corresponding name and you are told that is also the case.

        An example: the word hand is first taught by holding the child’s hand and saying it is a hand, then the card is shown to him and he is told the same.

        The rest of the procedure is the same as in the previous phase. You must be careful do not present several words at the same time until the child knows them separately, Do not display words starting with the same letter consecutively and try to gradually increase the number of letters in each word, starting with short words.

        domestic vocabulary

        A third stage, in which will be shown words related to elements present in the daily life of the subject, usually familiar objects, family and even actions. Font size has been reduced. It is suggested that about the child can learn at this stage one word per day, although this depends on the pace of the child. It is important to remember that it should continue to be posed like a game and that it should be performed briefly and without the child getting bored.

        Read words in sentences

        In this phase, a slightly more complex learning takes place. It will go from recognizing single words to trying to compose a sentence. The parent must generate a card with each word of the sentence to be learned. Each word is learned separately. They are then assembled and arranged, and the child is asked to indicate the word for each one. It is about learning to read words related to each other.

        Reading sentences

        Then choose a simple and appropriate book, with few words and in large print, sentences are extracted that you can work on little by little. It starts with short sentences, which are read slowly and clearly while we denote each word separately. We then ask him what the card says, indicating each word separately. Once read, it celebrates and strengthens its activity. As you learn to read one page, you move on to the next but rereading the previous ones.

        Read a book

        It is a question of making the child read the book from which we have extracted the sentences. It should be noted that the size decreases with each phase (In this specific phase, the letter is proposed to be about six millimeters long), which is more difficult for the little one. If there are any difficulties, we can research and prepare larger letters.

        Learn the alphabet

        Although this may sound strange and contrary to what happens in formal education, it is then possible to learn to read learn the alphabet. The reason is that letters are abstract elements, which can be more complex to interpret than bits of information referring to known elements. In short, this method is considered to be much easier to read a word than the elements that compose it.

        Is it appropriate to use this method? Criticisms of this methodology

        The Glenn Doman Method is controversial, due to the age at which it is intended. It is suggested that overstimulating children at an early age can create difficulties and allow many parents to overwhelm the child so that he can learn to read as early as possible, making it difficult for him to experiment and to play. And we must not forget that at this age everything is new and must be explored.

        We must also not forget that at this age our nervous system is still immature, And that although we could learn to read at an early stage, reading comprehension was complex and difficult to achieve, having not yet fully automated the language.

        It also brings up the fact that when the time is right for them to go to school, these children would be ahead of their peers and might get bored, which would complicate their own further learning.

        However, many of these criticisms were anticipated by the author himself, who said that part of the problem is an overprotective attitude and the anticipation that the child will not understand the process or the content of reading by. because of his age. In this way, we would limit its potential.

        Again there are no tests or studies demonstrating the effectiveness of the methodThe idea of ​​reinforcing behaviors and elevating learning as a hobby in which the child also has the opportunity to bond emotionally with his parent makes this method something that can be positive for him.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Doman, GJ (2000) How to teach your baby to read: the peaceful revolution. EDF editorial.

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