23 answers

Almost 5 Year Old Can't Recognize Her ABC's-Looking for Guidance

Hi Moms,

My daughter will be 5 in January and will be starting kindergarten Sept. 2010. She's in her 2nd year of preschool and does not recognize the alphabet. She can recognize her name as a whole but most of the alphabet she can't.

What's puzzling is that she's a huge book lover and we avidly read since she was 6 months old. She even sleeps with books in her bed. She can memorize books sometimes word for word and she's passionate about learning how to read and going to school. My questions are can a child learn to read without recognizing the individual letter and it sound first? Can they learn words first and go backwards or just learn as whole? Maybe I'm focusing too much on just the letter?? I know you're not supposed to compare but my son who's a first grader was able to recognize his abc's when he was barely three and is excelling in school. I'm not suggesting that he's any smarter. My daughter is brilliant but just doesn't know her abc's. Will it all just click for her some day??

This is concerning to me: She attends preschool 3 days a week. They are learning 1 letter a week. They spend a day tracing a letter, the next writing freehand and the 3rd day a craft with the letter. When I'm going through her work or even after school I'll ask what letter is her class working on this week, she'll tell me that she doesn't know, and there's all this letter classwork in her back pack that she's completed that day.

My goal is to help her grow and prepare her for kindergarten. Any guidance or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

FYI, I have not put any pressure on her to learn the alphabet. I'm not sitting her down everyday forcing her to learn this. She's been exposed to reading daily, alphabet flash cards games, dvd's, workbooks, puzzles, etc. in a funlike manner throughout her lifetime. She has no idea I have a concern.

Thanks in advance!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks moms for all your suggestions. We are starting with a vision test. We spoke with her preschool teachers and they feel she's doing fine and to give her some time. We are going to continue to work with her at home for the next quarter with many of your suggestions and go from there. If there's no improvement or if she still seems to be not retaining what being taught at school and here at home, we'll have her assessed at that point prior to entry of kindergarten.

Thanks again!

Featured Answers

buy the DVD Leap Frog Letter Factory. Have her watch that over and over and over for a few weeks. Literally 3 or more times a day each day. She will know every letter and sound by the end of that time. I was amazed the first time that I did this with a group of preschool kids and stopped doing the letter of the week because of the success. I have never had to teach individual sounds/names after they watch that DVD over and over. It's a miracle honestly. I've had kids that knew only one letter but after a week knew all of them upper and lower case

1 mom found this helpful

I bought my son the Fischer Price Fun to Learn Laptop. It is 30 dollars at TOYSRUS. That taught him the whole alphabet- it is a really good toy.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Please !!!!! Don't panic.Relax,my son turned 5 this July,
he was in Pre-school for over 2 years,he just started Kindergarten and he was not recognizing half of the alphabet.
Two month later,he loves the alphabet, he writes a few words,he knows his letter.
Give these children time,they come around.

2 moms found this helpful

My brother was ten years old before they realized that he couldn't read because he memorized everything. Little man would listen to other children read and my mother and then he would recite it back to them when it was his turn. Mom spent $800 for about a year with a special tutor that taught him to read.

The school wanted to put him in a learning disabilities class, but mom said no because she knew he was extremely smart...heck he could memorize a book after hearing it one time. He wasn't slow.

So she investigated and found this lady that had her own clinic. She spent the money and this woman had my brother reading above grade level in a year. He went from 1st grade level to sixth or seventh grade level in a year. Now my mom and my brother had to do a lot of work at home, but it worked.

He graduated from highschool at the top of his class and then college with a double major in Computer Science and Math summa cum laude at 18.

He wasn't slow. She may have a disability like dyslexia but that doesn't mean she's slow, she just needs help with her learning styles. I would have her evaluated to get a head start with this especially since pre=school spends so much time with the alphabet. I have worked with four kids thus far and had them all starting to read between 3 and 4 years of age. Kids can learn their alphabet at about 2...sounds soon their after and start using that to read as soon as three.

Ease your own mind and have her evaluated. It can't hurt. Then you can work with her early if you must.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,
Don't flip! Every child is different!! Teachers meet them where they are, just do your best. When my daughter was young she had a leap frog device (they were really new & hip then) that you could put a sheet of paper in & color on it, well they had an alphabet one that sang songs, you'd put the sheet in & hit the go button, then it would sing a phonics song about that letter. My point is there are all kinds of tools out there, walk down the leap pad section at Target & see what might help, go to the library, too.

Oh nearly forgot, the BEST book is Dr. Seuss' ABC book. I've read it so many times that I know it by heart, Big A, Little A What begins with A? Auntie Annie's Alligator, AaA... it's silly & repetitive. Read it before bed or whenever, but read it daily. It helps.

You could make a game, like a letter of the day and have lunch be something with that letter, cut the sandwich into the shape & be silly. Kids love silly. :)

Have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

I bought my son the Fischer Price Fun to Learn Laptop. It is 30 dollars at TOYSRUS. That taught him the whole alphabet- it is a really good toy.

1 mom found this helpful

It is not unusual at all for a child to not know their alphabet until age 6 or 7. According to some educational philosophies, there are levels of physical development that a child has to reach before they are ready for certain mental development stages. It may be that she'll go through a growth spurt and then follow that up with a mental spurt, during which she'll start to pick up the alphabet. The school my kids are going to follows this logic, and they don't teach the alphabet specifically until 1st grade. Then each letter is taught (out of "order" so they don't just memorize the alphabet) in such a way that the child develops an understanding of that later that will help them learn to write next. In the process of learning to write - those that haven't already, will learn to read. While there are many children who will easily pick up reading early, it does not necessarily mean that those who don't are going to have a learning disorder.

I am glad to hear you are taking a no-pressure approach to this, and would suggest you continue on that path. There will be signs along the way in Kindergarten and 1st grade that will let you know if there is more to be worked on.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


Given the exposure to books your daughter's had from a young age, and being in a structured preschool program for the second year, I would be a bit concerned, too, as to why my little one doesn't recognize letters yet.

Have you spoken with the preschool teachers already about your concerns? Every child learns differently so maybe this is not an unusual pattern that they see.

Also, I would recommend you contact your local public school district to ask for a preschool screening. When you make the appointment or when you bring her in, be sure to mention your concern with the letter recognition.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Well, my thought was, how is her vision? It wouldn't hurt to get her an eye exam if she hasn't had one yet.
But if her vision is fine, maybe it just hasn't clicked for her yet.
I have an alphabet book from our preschool, that I'd be happy to send to you, just email me. Our school did one letter a week, but I heard this year they are doing 3 letters a week. I assume this is so they have more time to re-cover the information, last year it was abc's learning the letter, and then the second time around it was abc's seeing, writing the letter, writing, saying the sound.
Anyways, on Amazon you can also get a set of Alphabet cards made by Eeboo, that are very cute and well illustrated and have different themes, like fairies, plants/flowers, tools, traditional. I have a set for each of my kids, it's decoration and useful. That same company also have many child games, flash cards, puzzles. Land of Nod has them too, but I think Amazon was cheaper, and probably free shipping if over $25.
If she memorizes by hearing then say the letters and then show her, say it then write it. I'm sure you could find a parent guide to teach your child by the way they learn best, some kids learn by seeing, some by doing, some by hearing, etc. Ask your librarian or preschool teacher for some specific books.
Our preschool teacher also recommended getting a cookie sheet/tray of sand and practice writing letters in it. It's fun and tactile for them. And same concept with shaving cream in the tub, just more stinky.
If you determine she doesn't have any issues, just keep trying until you get a method she enjoys.
I just got some new books for our leap pad for my 6 yo, and my 3 yo is the one that loves it. Just goes to show they all have different preferences. (Our library loans out leap pads and books, as well as phonics box sets.)
Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't be concerned yet...and I definitely wouldn't jump to any "learning disabilities" conclusion that others have. My daughter, who is 4 was much later at learning her ABC's, than her older brother. I have to say that she does know all of her ABC's and letter sounds now...thanks to the Leap Frog Letter Factory video. This video is awesome at teaching letters and sounds, after a couple of times watching this, she has had much success with letter recognition and sounds.
If she still has not made any progress when it gets closer to kindergarten time, then definitely talk to her pediatrician to discuss her development. But, I wouldn't worry yet, if I were you :)

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