Thursday, January 31, 2008

Toddler Time

Today Hunter started his winter session class of "Toddler Time" at the library.

It's a half hour long and they do a few finger plays ("Open Them, Shut Them" "Two Little Hands" and the weekly special, this time it was "Snowflakes, Snowflakes"). They also read a couple books, play some games (like tossing the "snowballs" [rolled up paper] into a can, or helping to build a felt snowman), and watch a short video (about five minutes).

For the last few minutes of the class, the parents come in and help them do a craft. It's usually some cute little textbook creation that involves gluing the pieces together or putting stickers on or something of that sort.

He wasn't too fond of the crafts this time around. Last session, in the fall, he did the crafts with the utmost care and forethought and was usually the last one done. This time he got it done as fast as possible so he could resume his precious play with the train set outside the door. Maybe it was just today, but my observation is that his love for the train set has been growing, not diminishing. And for that matter, his memory has, too (I wouldn't be surprised if he spent the entire class thinking about his unfinished business with Thomas the Tank Engine).

Thankfully, he keeps his composure despite his undying love for those tracks. When called away from it, he comes, without a fuss. "But I don't want anyone to play with my trains" he carefully reminds me as he walks toward me, his head turned as his eyes are still fixed on his abandoned box cars, flat beds and engines.

What can I say? He's all boy. And he loves his trains. And even though he was excited about the class, and even though I'm sure he enjoys it, his real love is with the engines.

And perhaps, by the end of the class, he'll learn to actually talk to and play with the other 2- and 3-year-old freight-lovers. Maybe.

"Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem..."
Judges 9:2

Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Me and My Guitar

Hunter really enjoys playing with his new guitar. Usually once or twice a day he begs to play it.

His dexterity isn't all that great yet, so he's a little shaky on the chords. But he is simply fascinated with ever so carefully plucking the strings with his jumbo guitar pick (from First Act). It took him a while to figure out how to play the strings gently, but he's finally gotten the hang of it and is intrigued with the workings of the instrument.

He's gained a lot of respect for it. Whenever he gets it out, he carefully takes the bag off of it and brings it to me. It's amazing to see how thoughtfully and cautiously he slowly makes his way across the room, eyes pinned on his guitar, so that he doesn't bump it into anything. I make him let me tune it each time before he plays so that his ears will grow accustomed to the sound of a tuned guitar. And at this point, he always sits down while he plays, so that, once again, he doesn't bump into anything.

He usually only stays occupied with it for about five to seven minutes. And at this point, that is just fine. It's an exciting thing that he is learning how to play this wonderful instrument at such an early age. It will certainly be a benefit and a joy to him throughout his life.

"Praise him with stringed instruments...Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD."

Psalm 150:4, 6

Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old

Friday, January 25, 2008

To Teach a Toddler Geography

Hunter has been learning geography, and he absolutely loves it. In fact, I can't get away with putting him to bed unless we get out our little flags and point to each one on the map that hovers over his toddler bed. "Silly Mommy, we forgot to do our countries!" he will tell me if I forget.

I know that in Montessori preschools, they teach children the names of the continents. Public schools' Kindergarten geography standards say that the child must know that a map or globe is a representation of the world.

But tiny kids, at this stage, can learn a great deal more than that, simply because it is so easy for them to absorb information. He may not have an accurate grasp of what "China" is yet, but the more he learns, the more he will understand. And when he's older and has to learn this stuff in school, it will be a joy and a task of ease.

I started off by simply pointing out some interesting countries on the map that is in our dining room. He simply loved that, and was constantly climbing up by the map and saying, "Let's find Russia!" Russia was his favorite at the time. Now it is Djibouti (pronounced "juh-booty"), a tiny little country in North Eastern Africa, near the Red Sea.

I then thought it would be a good idea to use the visual aid of flags and teach him the flags and the locations of each country at once. I simply hold up the picture of the flag when I point to the country: "this is Brazil" I say, as he looks at the flag, then looks where my finger is pointed.

This teaching time takes less than two minutes a day. And it is a very fun, stress-free two minutes as well.

We do our geography once in the morning, before nap time, and before bed (on a perfect day). He is not required to say anything back or be tested in any way, since teaching is about giving information like you would give a gift, not asking for it back.

I printed out the flag cards on card stock and laminated. I got the graphics off of Wikipedia. On the back of each flag I wrote the country name and its capital, as we'll be learning capitals later. I'm surprised at how much he loves it, and am excited to be giving him such a useful, fun gift.

"The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."
Psalm 24:1

Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old

All Aboard!

Lately Hunter just loves to make sure that all of his "friends" are around when I show him his math, reading, and encyclopedic knowledge cards.

Whatever toy he may have been playing with before we do our cards, he always makes sure that they get to come along and watch.

"They really want to see them [the cards]" you know.

He lines them all up, and positions them where they can "see" good, as in this picture.

Indeed, he loves this special times of learning throughout the day, and is always sure that his toys will get to take part in the fun. Learning reading, math, and encyclopedic knowledge has certainly heightened his imagination, curiosity, and love of learning, not crushed it.

"...and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together"
Numbers 8:9

Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Beginning Reading

Today we began our reading program. A few months ago I started teaching him names (he can read the names of about two dozen family members), but we never really did much more than that.

We're starting off with animals, because that is what he is really into these days. There's no hat, cat and sat in teaching two-year olds. More like elephant, motorcycle, and humerus, because that is what he finds more interesting (and you can't teach without interest).

Nonetheless he loved it. I made a book of "couplets" (two words, such as purple butterfly) with pictures on the following page. I knew that he wouldn't go for just the words, unless those words meant a step into him being able to read books. He loves books, and isolated words aren't very interesting to him unless they mean something - which in this case means being able to read books.

He's really excited about reading again. Today he asked to see the words about four times, and each time I showed them to him he begged "Again!" His toy animals were even asking to see them.

Hopefully, this time we will be able to be more consistent and actually get somewhere with it. Hopefully.

"And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words..."
Deuteronomy 9:10

Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old

Teaching Toddlers Piano

Hunter loves playing with the piano, and now he gets to really learn how.

I've been teaching him "perfect pitch": playing a note and saying, "This is C!" etc. We've only gotten about five notes so far, but he loves it.

And now I've labeled all the keys with colors (red for C's, purple for A's, etc.) so that he can find the notes when I ask him to play a particular one, and can learn to play simple pieces, and learn about octaves.

We've only begun, and his hand control isn't that good yet. But he's getting there, and with practice, very soon he will know the joy of making music.

"And with them Heman and Jeduthun with trumpets and cymbals for those that should make a sound, and with musical instruments of God..."
1 Chronicles 16:42

Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old
Anthony is 1 years, 2 months old

Noticing things

Today when I was helping Hunter put his toys away, I lined up his two racing cars at the top of his zigzag track to put the thing away. But Hunter watched me and said, "No Mommy, you did it wrong" and carefully picked up the little yellow taxi and precariously turned it around, the "right way".

The right way? The cars appeared nearly symmetrical to me, and they are made to roll either way (as, with this zigzag track, they go both forward and backward depending on the track they're on). I didn't even really notice that I had apparently put it on "backwards".

But, Hunter, the little organized toddler, has to have it "just so", even with the seemingly unnoticeable details. Guess he is a little more observant than I give him credit for!

"Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD."
Psalm 107:43
Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old

Reading is a Brain Function

Acdicorng to a rcesearh at Cbmraigde Uinsiertvy, it deson't mtaetr waht odrer the lteetrs in a wrod are in, the olny ipmroatnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat lteter be in the rgiht plcae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can slitl raed it wtiuot a porlbem. Tihs is bceasue the mnid deos not raed erevy lteter by isteslf, but the wrod as a wohle, and the barin fgiuers it out aynawy. Cool!

Why does Glenn Doman recommend teaching your baby to read whole words before teaching them the alphabet? Seems a little like putting the horse behind the buggy, doesn't it?

Can you read the paragraph at the top of this article? If you haven't already, look at it carefully. If you're a decent reader, you will be able to read that mess of a paragraph, even though the "words" don't make any sense at all! The letters are jumbled up in a random order, with only the first and last letter being in the correct place, but you are still able to read it because our brains read whole words, not letter by letter. 

This is why we are able to read at hundreds (or even thousands) of words per minute, and why we are able to read so many words that we are unable to spell. 

Reading is a brain function, and one that all humans are born with. 

You do not have to have a knowledge of phonics or even know the alphabet in order to read, just as you do not have to have knowledge of grammar or spelling in order to speak.

Phonics is important. Knowing the alphabet is important. Understanding that words are made up of letters and sounds is an important skill to have. But so is understanding that sentences are made up of nouns, verbs, and prepositions. Yet that never stopped us from teaching children how to speak.

Reading is a brain function, just as is speaking, and children can learn how to read words long before they can understand the technicalities of phonics. Giving them a head start in reading will make phonics come easy (and actually make sense).

"Very young children can and do learn to read words, sentences, and paragraphs in exactly the same way they learn to understand spoken words, sentences, and paragraphs. 
Again the facts are simple - beautiful but simple. We have already stated that the eye sees but does not understand what is seen and that the ear hears but does not understand what is heard. Only the brain understands. 
When the ear apprehends, or picks up, a spoken word or message, this auditory message is broken down into a series of electrochemical impulses and flashed to the unhearing brain, which then reassembles and comprehends in terms of the meaning the word was intended to convey. 
In precisely the same manner it happens that when the eye apprehends a printed word or message, this visual message is broken down into a series of electrochemical impulses and flashed to the unseeing brain to be reassembled and comprehended as reading. 
It is a magical instrument, the brain. 
Both the visual pathway and the auditory pathway travel through the brain and where both messages are interpreted by the same brain process. 
Visual acuity and auditory acuity actually have very little to do with it, unless they are very poor indeed. 
There are many animals that see or hear better than any human being. Nonetheless, no chimpanzee, no matter how acute his vision or hearing, has yet to read the word "freedom" through his eye or understood it through his ear. He hasn't the brain for it." 
Glenn Doman, How to Teach Your Baby to Read

So long have we been programed to believe that reading is, in essence, a study and mastery of phonics rules. That we learn to read by learning the sounds of the letters and then piecing those letters together, sounding them out in our head and then coming to a complete understanding.

But that is not reading at all.

Yes, phonics may be a pathway to reading. And especially in the older child (3 or 4 and up), phonics may help them cross the reading threshold, to understand how words are formed and the rules behind them. 

But the true reading - brain reading - will come after that child has used the rules of phonics as a footstool and his brain has learned the whole words. Then, and only then, will he read truly and efficiently, the same way he speaks truly and efficiently.

And true reading? Well tiny children are experts at that. Just as they can take in and learn spoken words easily and effortlessly, so they can take in and learn whole written words easily and effortlessly. Tiny children generally do not need the footstool of phonics, and are able to learn to read often before they can learn to speak.

The brain is a magical instrument, isn't it?

Friday, January 18, 2008

I really know my numbers!

I have been questioned several times about my success with the math program. When people see a two-year-old child (and a one-year-old) be able to instantly tell the difference between a card with 18 and 19 dot on it, they seem to instantly assume, "Well he's not really seeing the actual number of dots; he's just memorized the pattern that the dots are in."

At one point I wondered the same thing myself. I had to test this theory to see if he really was perceiving the true numbers, or if it was just pattern memorization.

A while back I tried making another set of numbers one - ten to see if he'd still be able to do it. When I presented them with the new cards, he didn't even act like they were different! He still got the answers right every time!

But today the fact was clearly validated: Is he just recognizing some kind of pattern in the dots, or is he actually able to perceive the true numbers?

A little while ago I made Hunter a book with different numbers of cars in them. I never ended up showing it to him, but today I got it out. Now mind you, he had NEVER EVEN SEEN THIS BOOK BEFORE. I asked him, "Let's find fifteen!" and I flipped through the book until I found it. I held up the page that had fifteen on it, (eighteen was on the other side) and asked, "Where's fifteen, Hunter?"

Without missing a beat he immediately and energetically exclaimed, "Right there!" pointing to the page with fifteen silver cars on it.

He really can perceive actual numbers! He knows that "fifteen" or "ten" or "thirty nine" is an amount, a quantity, not a certain pattern on a card.

Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Where Every Child is a Prodigy

This article explores the workings of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. The IAHP has written books for parents so that parents can learn how to do their own programs at home. Our programs are based on many of these teachings.

Where Every Child is a Prodigy
By John Piccone

Our society defines prodigy as a child with exceptional abilities developed at an exceptionally early age. Are prodigies children of rare ability, or have we just dumbed down our expectations for normal children to the point where children who fulfill their full potential as human beings are considered unusual or rare?

Curious Parents visited The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (The Institutes) where children develop amazing talents and abilities. A six year old child enrolled at The Institutes reads Shogun with understanding. Other 6 year olds read Shakespeare's MacBeth and Hamlet. A 10 year old reads Tom Clancy novels with relish. Every year, the students at the Institutes perform the Mikado, a Gilbert & Sullivan opera about a Japanese prince who flees from an arranged marriage to fall in love with the betrothed daughter of a tailor. These children are not just reading or performing by rote, they are able to understand and articulate the nuances of plot and emotion not in the language of a university professor, but by enthusiastically describing the cool parts and giggling about the mushy parts.

How is all of this possible? Janet Doman, the Director of The Institutes and the daughter of founder Glenn Doman, explains that the human brain grows by use. The Institutes were founded to develop cures for brain injured patients. While mainstream treatments for stroke victims, children with Cerebral Palsy and other brain diseases were focusing on treating the symptoms, Glen Doman and his mentor Temple Fay, the renowned former Chief of Neurosurgery at Temple Hospital had the inspiration to treat the brain, the source of the illness. The pairs studies showed that patients achieved the best results when the brain was stimulated with frequency, duration and intensity. The Institutes continues a very active program of treatment for brain injured children, providing treatment for children at their global centers in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, Japan and Italy.

Doman and Fay's success with brain injured patients prompted the Domans to apply their methods to the development and education of healthy children. They reasoned that if injured brains could be improved and cured with frequency, intensity and duration of use, then why not improve the abilities and intelligence of healthy children through similar principles? Doman studied the neurological development of children and developed a program called How to Multiply your Baby's Intelligence. The program is delivered through either an on campus program for children ages birth through 14 or through a Mothers school where parents receive an intensive week of instruction in Philadelphia, Japan or Italy. The program draws students and families from all over the world and is delivered in four languages (Japanese, Spanish, Italian and English) through a staff of on site translators.

So how do normal children develop exceptional intellectual and athletic abilities at exceptionally early ages? First of all, their parents and other adults around them do not consider these abilities exceptional. All children have potential greater than we think and if the adults around them raise their own expectations of what's possible, the children are free to explore their potential.

Secondly, Children are born with self esteem, declares Janet Doman. A child's innate self esteem is augmented through achievement and success. The only way children lose it is if we take it away from them and you can't give it back to them other than by helping them progressively and consistently achieve and succeed. The staff at The Institutes avoid competition between individuals and focus the children on self improvement, where there is only an upside. Children are never told that an answer is wrong, rather they are asked to explain their reasoning, which is frequently creative and can be adjusted where needed.

Finally, an environment must be created to continually and robustly stimulate the intellectual and athletic development of the children. Most environments created for children are designed to accommodate the needs of adults rather than the potential of children's brains. The environment and activities of the child must be tuned for optimal neurological development rather than the convenience of parents or teachers. This is a full-time job and is not performed well by parents that are splitting their responsibilities between childrearing and other tasks. A tired, distracted parent has difficulty accomplishing all of their own responsibilities, much less designing and creating a stimulating environment for their children. Therefore, The Institutes recommends that one parent in each family be devoted full-time to raising the children the demanding program cannot be performed successfully with any less commitment of effort and attention.

Parents in the program are taught how to raise personal expectations of what their children are capable of, and are taught how to develop a customized, personalized path for the development of their child. The very practical and unconventional approach focuses on understanding what the child is learning and how they are thinking, rather than checking off boxes in a generic curriculum outline. One parent, after his child mastered reading the names of most of the objects in their home and needed a new challenge, re-labeled everything in Spanish so that his young child learned the vocabulary in two languages.

Critics of The Institutes, including many in the medical and educational establishments argue that intensive learning robs children of their childhood and that the children cannot conceivably be learning at the ages claimed by The Institutes. Janet Doman responds by describing the amazing abilities of the children in their programs and stating that children are natural learners and problem solvers. She describes how Children learn best through human biology is designed for children to absorb knowledge, experience and judgment early in their development and they enjoy doing, exploration and problem solving. Children feel rewarded and happy by achieving, learning and interacting.

Children have no predisposed notion that patty-cake is more fun than reading or math, and their opinions of such matters are influenced by their experience and the opinions of their parents. Will a child enjoy reading and mathematics if it is something that is shared through comfortable, secure interaction with a loving adult committed and devoted to them? In fact, children will feel better because they've had an enjoyable experience as well as learned and accomplished something. Janet Doman says that the myth of lost childhood applies more appropriately to children who are raised by a fatigued, stressed, distracted parent, without a plan, who fits the child in between everything else going on in their lives. Children being raised by a full-time parent devoted to designing and creating a developmental experience that maximally stimulates and nurtures the child are most likely to maximize their happiness, potential and self esteem.

The Institutes has an on campus program for healthy children. The early development program enrolls children from birth to 5 years and children from 6 years through 14 years enroll in the regular program. Fourteen year old graduates have a choice to attend either regular high school or proceed directly to community college. Most students elect to attend community college because they are more academically and emotionally mature than the typical high school student and they can complete a college curriculum by the time they reach eighteen years old.

For more information about the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, visit their web site or call them at 215-233-2050.

Thank you to my friend Joe Auteri who introduced me to The Institutes and who studied in their parenting program for his son.

John Piccone is the publisher of Curious Parent Magazine.

"O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."
Psalm 8:1-2

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Different Way of Looking at Life

Today I got a glimpse of something extraordinary in my son, which was his outlook on life that the programs we have been doing has produced.

While shifting through some papers on the dining room table, I turned around to see Hunter walking around on the couch about to step off and make a tumble on his head. Sure enough, before the words could escape my mouth to warn him there he flew, head over heals, doing a complete flip and landing flat on his back - and pretty hard.

Of course, I rushed over there to get him because I'm sure he was hurt, but right as I was about to pick him up to comfort him, he jumps to his feet and proudly proclaims, "Mommy! I did a somersault!" as he threw his hands into the air for an Olympic "finishing" position.

Even though we've really only just begun the "Physical Excellence" program, I can already see the wonderful effects it is having on Hunter. He loves being physically excellent! He loves getting better and better at being coordinated, he loves tumbling around, and he loves having an outlet for all that energy of his!

And, giving them the opportunity to become physically excellent gives the child a whole different outlook on life, as we see portrayed here: where other kids would have cried, lamented, and asked for band aids for their imaginary "boo boos", Hunter saw the experience differently: not as a tumble in need of adult attention via crying and whining, but as a daring new way to maneuver his body, a challenge, and physical feat to conquer. And what a wonderful way that is to look at the world!

"Ellen's mother went to the foot of the stairs to call Ellen downstairs. Three-year-old Ellen was wearing those pajamas with feet and shiny soles, and as a consequence she slipped on the top step and down the stairs she fell, head over tin-cups, to land flat on her back at her horrified mother's feet.
   Whereupon Ellen jumped to her feet, threw her arms over her head, stood tiptoes and assumed the Olympic "Finish" position.
   Her very tuned-in mother very wisely applauded.
   When we first heard of that story from the staff, our first thought was, "How very clever of both Ellen and her mother. Ellen snatched victory from defeat."
   And so she had. It took us a while to realize that what Ellen had done was a good deal more important than just snatching victory from defeat.
   Ellen does not look at learning the way adults do. Neither do the other kids.
   It took us a reasonably long time to realize that the children who have the glorious opportunity to learn about all the things there are to learn about in this world, at the hands of parents who take great joy in teaching them, do not look at learning in the same way that the rest of us do."

How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb, page 17, chapter 4

"There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us." 
Psalm 4:6

Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old

Perceptive Mind

Today while we were driving in the car, the radio was on with some guy talking, with background music. Suddenly Hunter shouts in delight, "Mommy! He's playing the guitar!" I didn't realize what he was talking about at first, trying to figure out where he was seeing a guitar.

But, I soon realized that the background music on this program was an acoustic guitar. I was so amazed at how perceptive he was in recognizing the music as the sound of a guitar, even when I thought he wasn't paying attention.

"According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it."
Exodus 25:9

Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Making a Collage

Hunter had a lot of fun making a collage today: I just got out a bunch of paper scraps, glue, and crayons and let him go at it. He was very particular about how he cut and pasted each piece, and make some interesting scribbles to add to the decor.

He spent quite a bit of time on it; about twenty minutes or so. And of course, any input I might have had was kindly reprimanded with, "I do it all by myself!" Which, of course, are his favorite words right now.

He did it all by himself, and was quite proud of his finished work. His color choices were very selective, and so was his placement of the pieces (and his scribbling as well). I really think that even tiny kids have a propensity for real art, and I'm hoping to nourish his artistic abilities. I'm currently reading the book Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes and intend to start some of the teaching techniques with Hunter soon. The goal of the book is to give children the tools to draw realistically while they're still young, before they hit the "I can't draw!" stage at eight or nine years old.

So, hopefully with these teaching techniques and lots of opportunities to practice and develop his creativity, he will be creating many more future masterpieces and hold onto the joys of art into his teen and adult years.

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it."
Psalm 90:17
Hunter is 2 years, 9 months old

Monday, January 14, 2008

Police Station

Today we went on a little field trip to the police station. Hunter's favorite part? Riding in this little "refurbished" metal police car, a cool antique that was repainted, polished, and ready for preschool use. He finally figured out how the petals were supposed to work when it was time to go (rats), but left willingly with a promise of another visit, perhaps a field trip sometime soon, and the urging that the real police cars were outside.

He only got to see the real cars from a distance, since it was so cold, but like we promised, another time [that is, when it's warmer].

"And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him."
Psalm 37:40
Hunter is 2 years, 9 months old

Friday, January 11, 2008

Teaching Babies Math: Our progress so far

"This is thirty"
of course, which any one-year-old can plainly see: no counting required

Last August, when my son was almost 30 months old, I did an online search on our library's website for books with the keyword "preschool". While I thought I would be getting ideas for some cute crafts, snacks, and educational games to play, I had no idea what I would truly be getting was a whole new world view on parenting, teaching, and how tiny children learn.

The book that started it all
This new world view came from a series of books from Glenn Doman, titled "How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb", "How to Teach Your Baby to Read", and "How to Teach Your Baby Math". While I actually thought they were just catchy titles, these books were actually the real deal: I was about to learn how to teach my BABY math!

And while I laughed at the idea once I actually saw the books, I read them out of curiosity: "That's crazy: BABIES can't learn math, that is so DUMB. But I really must know, HOW, just how exactly do they suggest this can be done?" So I read the books, wondering of the crazy suggestions they were going to make that will supposedly teach BABIES and toddlers how to do math. And thankfully, they proved my assumptions wrong: these authors weren't crazy; they were geniuses.

Nonetheless I learned that babies really can learn math, and learn it far better (and far easier, and far faster) than we ever could. And even though it sounded crazy, it made sense: didn't you ever wonder why a $2 piece of plastic and wires we call a calculator can outdo the amazing human brain? The human brain really is built in with this type of (calculator-like) programming: we just have to make use of it before the child reaches 2 or 3 years old.

Shaky Beginnings

In early September, after several hours of making dot cards for the quantities 1-100, I began our program hesitantly. I had never actually seen or heard of anyone who had done the program successfully, but all I could think about was, "But what if it IS true?" I just HAD to at least try it.

The program starts by teaching not numerals (1, 2, 3, or I, II, III) but rather quantity: showing a card with five red dots on it and saying, "This is FIVE!" You teach quantities up to 100, which takes about 10 weeks. Babies who have learned quantity can tell the difference between a card with 99 and 98 dots on it (or 99 and 98 people, pennies, cars, anything). It is absolutely amazing.

After a couple weeks of teaching quantity the baby can learn the meanings of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division by being shown (with the quantity cards) these processes in action: ten plus three equals thirteen. And in turn, since they can actually SEE the number of dots, later on they can do any and all math instantly: ask any three-year-old who was trained on this program what fifteen times six plus twenty divided by ten equals, and without much thought or effort he can tell you in an instant: 11 of course! He can actually see the numbers (dots) being "manipulated" (added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided) and does not have to go through the pain-staking "put down the two and carry the seven" that we did when we first learned math.

How Simple and Easy it is:

What a nice thought! For your child to be able to do instant math, to be able to truly understand math, and to be able to enjoy math while still a baby! But does it work?

I wondered the same thing myself, and even after just a few weeks of executing the program, I can already see the amazing results: IT IS WORKING!

The claims are true, and after seeing each card a mere fifteen times (for a duration of less than a second each time) both Anthony (age one) and Hunter (age two 1/2) can tell the difference between cards with 12 and 11, 16 and 17, or 29 and 30 dots on them! Though we have barely begun, this fact alone has allowed me to put my entire trust in this program and I am so excited for what is left to come: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, sequences, fractions, simple algebra, and more. Here are some videos of Hunter and Anthony being "tested" on their abilities:

The math program has been so simple and SO much fun. It takes only a few minutes each day (less than five) and they are learning so much: learning things that will be impossible if we wait until a later time in their life. I am so excited at the success of this program, and can't wait to share the full "how to" with the rest of the world in a documentary I am putting together.

Here are some pictures of our progress so far in the math program. The whole thing has been a wonderful joy, and I am so thrilled at the progress. More updates will be coming soon!

Anthony learning quantity recognition
Age 11 months, October 2007

Hunter helping me make quantity cards

Learning one - six with a math game
(age 30 months): September 2007

Love of math ignited: Hunter and "Mr. Math Lion", his math-loving friend
(December 2007)

Introduction to addition
(January 2007; age 34 months)

Learning quantities thirty - forty
(January 2007)

He loves his math!

"And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered."
Genesis 13:16
Hunter is 2 years, 9 months old

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Visit to the South

Our journey to the south for New Years (and the following week and a half thereafter) was about as much fun as a two-year-old could ask for. Taking a break from the cold, Chicago weather to chase chickens, ride horses, drive go-carts, play with toys abounding and have the pleasureful company of seven other big boys to play with was a refreshing and exhilarating start to our year.

But the most beneficial part of the trip was to just take a break from the paces of life, and the slow, simple routine of southern living was the perfect outlet for such.

He got to spend a lot of time sitting around and reading, coloring, and playing with trains and cars. And he enjoyed it thoroughly, and the simplicity made it so it wasn't a huge change in routine and schedule, making for one content (and not cranky) preschooler.

The trip was very last minute, and it cut into two weeks of "getting stuff done" around here. But it was a welcome relief, and I am SO glad we went. We'll probably be visiting again in the spring, with more adventures with farm animals and social engagements. We're greatly looking forward to it.

Hunter is 2 years, 9 months old