The Fast Flash MethodScreen Shot 2014-03-26 at 6.49.54 PM copy

Some time ago I wrote a blog about the Fast Flash Method of teaching sight words to our kids with Down syndrome. You can follow that link to remind yourself of the finer points of the technique. But here’s a quick visual check of what it looks like. In this video, I’m working with Julian, one of my students here in L.A. He can’t help taking a quick look at mom, who is behind the camera!

Fast Flash Demo

Question markWhy?

Here are answers to some questions you’ll naturally have:

  1. Why so fast? The speed (at least 1 card per second; faster if you can) has been proven for 50+ years. It has to do with brain synapses and the fact that a child’s brain–DS or not–likes to learn fast. No boredom here, no lingering over one card with endless commentary. The NACD (National Association for Child Development) and Glen Doman’s Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential have championed this technique for many decades, with brilliant results. 
  2. Why large words in red ink? Large type helps the immature visual pathway to develop; this is critical for learning to read. Red, because the brain is very attracted to the color. The child will be more engaged from the get-go simply because of the color. 24 years ago, I didn’t believe this and tested my son and students with cards in black, blue, and red. No contest!
  3. Why don’t you ask the child to repeat the words as you flash the cards? I want the child’s brain to do only one thing: LOOK. That’s it. Just take it in. I want 100% of the child’s effort to be focused on attentively watching those cards. The brain takes care of the rest. (At any rate, you’re flashing those cards so fast, he can’t repeat the words aloud. Which is good.)
  4. Why are you working with just 6 cards over and over? Most of our children with Down syndrome have at least 5 memory channels, so their working memory is comfortable with holding at least 5 pieces of information on their brain’s “desktop.” I am using 6 cards because I’m teaching Julian the words for a 6-picture “Fruit” matching game (or lotto game) that I created. I’d previously tested him with a working memory game, and know that he can retain at least 7 pieces of information in his working memory.
  5. How many times should we flash the cards in one sitting? The group of cards should ideally be flashed at least 3 times in succession, as the video demonstrates.
  6. How often should we teach a set of cards? My “reading prescription” is 5 minutes twice a day! That’s magic, and if you keep at it consistently, that vocabulary will soon stick in the child’s memory. Once a set is 80% learned, add a new set, pull out words already learned, and keep expanding!

Here’s to your success!





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Showing 2 comments
  • Nehal

    Hi Natalie,

    Thanks for the useful information. How do we test the child has learned the set?