I was recently invited to attend the seminar on Discovering the joy of teaching your baby organised by Glenn Doman in the hope of finding out more about their reading programme, amongst other topics that would be shared. However, that day, the speaker, Janet Doman, delved into the general ideas of teaching the baby and shared in detail (for the first part of the seminar) on helping the child in their social growth. Here’s some of the information shared and my reflections.
According to Janet, all children are born geniuses and there is great potential in every child to learn. From the time they were born, they want to learn everything and they want to learn every moment. Tiny children believe that it is their job to grow up and they think about it every minute of the day. We definitely can testify to that by the way and speed in which they imitate us in our actions and speech.
Children have the immense ability to learn fact for fact prior to six years of age. They are superb learners and are only limited by the materials that are given and this includes the quality, depth and sophistication of the resources. It is easy to make a baby physically, intellectually and socially excellent before six years old. Janet claimed that it is almost an effortless process but it will be much more difficult if we wait past the first six years to accomplish that. The ability of a child to learn languages effortlessly in his first few years is a good example.
Reflection: If the first six years of their lives are so important, what would you, as parents, do to facilitate their learning?
Up till this point, this is information that we know much about if we have read up on early childhood. The next point that Janet made might not sit well with some of us. She advocated that mothers and fathers are the best teachers and no one can teach our own kids better than ourselves. For social growth, the best environment for a child is home and there is no other social environment that is as effective. She further stressed that for a child, it may be the only environment that he can learn socially.
While many of us think that little kids need to interact with their peers to learn or for the purpose of socialisation, Janet thought otherwise and maintained that there will be social chaos instead (she was referring to a preschool context). The only thing that a 3YO can possibly learn socially from another 3YO is how to be a 3YO. She gave an example in which a child learns that screaming enables him to get his way because he saw his peer using that method successfully.
Is that socialisation?
Is that what we want?
Can little kids learn socialisation from kids their age?
This is my nephew,D , and Faith.
D loves Faith but I thought this set of pictures illustrates the following point well.
Pics taken randomly during one of their playdates.
Janet further gave an illustration on how little kids are not ready to share their toys. If we take parents out of the equation and put the children in a group, what would happen is that the smaller ones will get knocked down by the stronger ones. Is that socialisation? It sounds like a dog-eat-dog world. The outgoing, friendly kids learn to be willing to fight for what they want or join like-minded friends (gang) to achieve their goals. For the shy ones? They don’t even stand a chance and might get bullied in the end.
She also challenged us to take about 20 minutes to observe what really goes on in a preschool and commented that we probably would take the child out of it. Too much chaos and a waste of time for the kids. The kids would be better off learning at home.
I thought hard about the statements Janet made and the examples that she gave. I want to agree with what she said because to a certain extent, those are some of the reasons why I did not put Faith in a playgroup. Faith is too young (barely 2YO at this point) to distinguish between right and wrong. She needs an adult to teach her, constantly, and though there are teachers in the preschool, they are not always with her. Habits and values are caught, not taught and a young child learns through observation. If there is no one to guide her as to what’s right and wrong, she will form her own hypothesis about certain social norms. It would then be an additional effort to correct a certain behaviour or thinking (that is, if the parents are aware of it) and it certainly takes diligence, patience and perseverance of the parents to do that.
Nobody says parenting is a breeze.
As it is, during our weekly playdate, I have noticed certain behaviour from our kids that are not so desirable but I’m thankful that the mothers are with them and could correct them on the spot. Imagine if the children are in the preschool and those behaviours are not addressed. Do you want to “let it go…let it go?”
However, I also want to believe that the scenarios she had painted (though they are real), may not happen in all preschools. Granted that there would definitely be chaos in a group with many young children and the teachers would probably spend more time maintaining order than teaching ( I was a teacher myself and could relate to that). This is inevitable in a group setting. But I would like to believe that there are many early childhood educators out there who are doing a marvelous job with the children. It is definitely not fair of me to pass judgement on them basically because I am not in their situations nor have I placed Faith in a preschool to witness anything unpleasant.
At the end of the day, what Janet seemed to advocate was for mothers (I would say parents) to spend more time with their children because she claimed that studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between the amount of time spent with a kid and being a civilised kid.
She cautioned that each time we decide to hand the child to someone else, there is a price to pay and we might want to ask ourselves if it is worth it.
I could almost feel a sense of uneasiness in the room. What Janet had shared was not something everyone would like to hear. It’s a call for working mothers to rethink about their priorities, to weigh if work is more important than her child. It’s a reminder for SAHMs to stop minding so much about household chores but to spend the time to teach the child well for there are a thousand things that young children do not know and they need to be taught.
The magic is in your child and in you, not the materials…
It’s certainly a wake-up call for me. Being a SAHM, you might think that I have all the time to teach the little one. But this can be far from the truth. My mind is constantly filled with the to-do list and though I am physically with Faith, I may actually not be present (you know what I mean?). There could have been more structure in terms of learning for Faith and I really ought to plan my time well with her knowing that kids thrive on predictability.
I thought it’s also worthwhile to review our parenting philosophy and what we want for our child.
I will reflect on their programme in the next post; this is getting too long.
In a nutshell,
to speed brain growth at the institute is to give a child visual, auditory and tactile stimulation with increased frequency, intensity and duration in recognition of the orderly way in which the brain works.
Meanwhile, you may like to read another mom, Shermeen’s views on this seminar.
Related readings can be found here.
You can find out more about Glenn Doman’s programmes here.
I will also get myself started on their reading book as I realised I have this lying on the bookshelf! Thank you to the one who gifted me with this.
Disclaimer: The hubs and I were invited to attend the recent Discovering the joy of teaching your baby seminar by Glenn Doman in Singapore. No compensation was received and opinions are mine.