How to Teach Your Child Math: Glenn Doman’s Dot Method

Dot method?! What is it?

Out of all the methods by Glenn Doman, his approach to learning math is the most… surprising. We are used to recitals of sequence of numbers (1, 2, 3…), then simple counting, then long and difficult process of weaning off counting fingers and teaching kids to do it in their minds. Glen Doman believes that there is no need for this long and difficult process. According to the research that was conducted in the Institutes of Achieving Human Potential, children are born with an ability to discern quantity of objects by sight. Remember Rainman? Looking at a hundreds of toothpicks and saying their exact number without counting. Apparently all the kids are able to do it and lose this amazing ability if we don’t help them develop it. In order to do it, Glen Doman suggests using large flash cards with dots (hence – Dot Method), increasing the number of random dots on the cards gradually, getting children accustomed first to quantities, then to equations with those quantities, and finally even with algebraic sequences, sophisticated equations and even inequalities. Since children get used to doing equations with dots (quantities) instead of numbers (meaningless symbols!), they learn to UNDERSTAND problem solving in math, as opposed to memorizing the formulas to get to the correct answer of the problem. Once children go through this introductory concept of quantities, normal numbers are finally introduced and tiny children continue enjoying sophisticated equations in the more traditional for us way: 127+12-66*2=… For the details and further proof, please read How to Teach Your Baby Math by Glen Doman. Once you are familiar with the method, you can find brief summary of steps to help you stay on track and further resources.

Does it really work?

First of all, check this article at WordsBestEducation: The Math Mystery. In this article the blogger describes her own quest for understanding on how the math program works for the kids, how successful it is and what are the reasonable expectations. Elizabeth, the author of the article, cites a phone conversation with IAHP institutes where they answered many of her questions, and then shares her own suggestions on how to make this program successful. My personal opinion is that, as with any learning system, it depends on a child. And a parent. The book dedicates an entire chapter for testimonials from parents who used this system. TeachYourBabyToRead group contains quite a number of parents who’ve used this system with a great success. There is also a great number of kids who went through the entire program without astonishing results. To each his own, but I am sure that the time they spent on trying to learn math this way was not wasted anyway: their visual pathway is definitely a lot more developed and they’ve spent a lot of quality (and fun!) time with their parents – what can be more rewarding? Besides, who knows, may be this knowledge will surface in a future, giving them boost in understanding of math in school and college. Thanks to Laurie Tiemens for this important point: “I would like to add another important benefit. More brain pathways are being wired into your child’s brain thereby increasing their ease of learning anything.” The greatest encouragement for me is my own husband. Even without any dot system, or Rainman’s disorders, he managed to retain this amazing ability: if you show him a card with 98 dots, he knows that there are 98 dots without counting! Number of grapes on a plate, or people in the room – he is never mistaken by more then 2. And, yes, he’s been taking special classes for kids gifted in math for years. So, why not help our kids to enjoy this amazing science?! To read about other’s experiences with the program, or to share yours, scroll down to our comments section! Looking forward to hear from you!

Basic Rules of Teaching

  1. Begin as early as possible
  2. Be joyous at all times
  3. Respect your child
  4. Teach only when you and your child are happy.
  5. Stop before your child wants to stop.
  6. Show materials quickly.
  7. Introduce new materials often.
  8. Do your program consistently.
  9. Prepare your materials carefully and stay ahead.
  10. Remember the Fail-Safe- Law: If you aren’t having a wonderful time and your child isn’t having a wonderful time – stop. You are doing something wrong.


See more in Glenn Doman’s method’s FAQ and see comments below for some personal experiences with math program by other parents.


Zero Step (for newborns – kids under 3 months old, all other kids should start at the First Step) – dot cards that are very-very large: 15″x15″, with black, very bold dots 1.5″ in diameter. Begin with one card, show it for 10-15 seconds and hold it absolutely still to give him a chance to focus on it. On a first day show “one” dot card 10 times, on second show “two” dot card 10 times; proceed for 7 days with different cards 10 times each day. Repeat for the following two weeks: so, for the first three weeks you show “one” dot on Mondays, “two” on Tuesdays… On week 4: chose dot cards 8-14 and cycle each of them 10 times a day for the following three weeks (card “eight” on Mondays, card “nine” on Tuesdays, etc.) Continue with this pattern until tiny infant is seeing detail consistently and easily (around twelve weeks or later). Chose the correct time of the day: when the baby is in a good mood. Once you realize your infant can see the detail clearly, proceed to step one. First Step – Quantity Recognition Teaching your child to to perceive actual numbers, which are true value of numerals – 5 dot cards 1-100. 2 sets of 5 cards each, three times a day each set. Second Step – Equations Start after you’ve showed first 20 cards for First Step. Don’t test, continue introducing new quantities, i.e. dot cards, (until you reach 100), and add sessions with simple equations: 2+2=4, 5+11=16. Avoid predictable equations: 1+2=3; 1+3=4; 1+4=5. After two weeks of different addition equations, do subtractions, followed by multiplication and division (at two week intervals of 3 sessions of equations per day). Third Step – Problem Solving You have completed First Step (showing dot cards), and First Step (simple Equations). Progress onto more sophisticated three step equations, e.g: 2x2x3=12. “You are still extraordinary giving and completely non-demanding” (GD, Math, p. 125)- you haven’t done any testing. “The Purpose of problem-solving opportunity is for a the child to be able to demonstrate what he knows if he wishes to do so. It is exactly the opposite of the test.” (GD, Math, p. 126). You can do it at the end of the session. Hold two cards and ask where is 22 (always offer options!) “This is a good opportunity for a baby to look at or touch teh card if he wishes to do so.” If he does, make a big fuss. If he doesn’t, simply say, “This is 32” and, “This is fifteen.” (GD, Math, p. 127). Give a simple equation and then hold two dot cards for him to chose the result of the equation. Again, always offer options, and if your child doesn’t want to show a card, simply and upbeat say it yourself. After a few weeks of these equations, make them even more fun: combine addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, but don’t mix the pairs e.g. 40+15-30=25, not 4+2*7. After a few weeks, add another term to the equations: 56+20-4-4=68. You can further progress onto:

  1. Sequences
  2. Greater then and less then
  3. Equalities and inequalities
  4. Number personality
  5. Fractions
  6. Simple algebra

Fourth Step – Numeral Recognition 11×11 poster board with numerals written in large, red, felt-tipped marker: 6″ tall by 3″ wide. Combine numbers with dots: 12 greater then dot card of 7; dot card of 12=12 (number) Fifth Step – Equations with numerals Make 18″x4″ poster board cards for equations with numerals: 25+5=30; 115x3x2x5 not equals 2,500; 458 divided by 2 minus 229.


Perla Adams, the Classical Mommy, has a PowerPoint presentations with dots, dots and numbers and even some equations – you can print it on a card stock paper, or even show them on the computer: Teaching Quantity. Her presentations can help you cover the steps 1-4 and are absolutely FREE! Thanks, Perla, for another wonderful job!! FREE Matthew Hudson’s Doman plugin (its original location is Matthew Hudson’s Doman plugin, but many parents reported that it doesn’t work any more, so I uploaded the zip file “Doman” to make it easier) for Microsoft PowerPoint: terrific plugin that allows you to go through Step 1, 2, some of Step 3 (only two step equations: 15*2=30), step 4, and some of Step 5 (again, only two step equations and numbers are not that big). Plugin also contains a randomizer for your Encyclopedic knowledge words and even a word generator. I personally can’t imagine my son’s program without this wonderful plugin. Prodigy Math/Reader for Infants and Toddlers by Geenogee: this is an inexpensive program that helps you through steps 1 and 3. It does get you a little further then Matt’s plugin – it allows 3 and 4 step equations (12/6×35=70), it allows student management, it remembers and reminders you to show the presentations certain number of times per day, tells you how many lessonettes are left for that day. Similarly to Doman, once you get to equations, it just throws a tiny pop up window with the equation, showing only the result dot card on the screen. Not bad, but I wish it could actually offer the entire program: inequalities, sequences, etc. It has numbers, but they are so small… and I haven’t discovered any ways to enlarge numbers, or how to make them red (if you have, please comment below or email me directly!) It’s a pity, that nobody does it! On the other side, same CD contains Prodigy Reader – similar software to teach your kid to read. Our Encyclopedic Knowledge Math section contains some presentations (even with sounds) in English, Russian and Spanish that can aid your math learning and make it more fun.