30 answers

How to Teach Abc's to Stubborn Child

Hello Moms,
My daughter will be 5 at the end of the month and is suppose to be starting Kindergarten in September. They would like them to already know their ABC’s and some other stuff. My problem is that I have been trying to work with my daughter on this since March and she hasn’t wanted much to do with it. I thought that if I sat her down today and let her color the letters and hang them on the wall and point to them she could at least learn the first 5. 3 of them are in her name! Well over a span of 5 hours today she still only knows B. I don’t know how to get her to learn them. I tried giving her some candy when she did well, but she only got one piece since she would mess up. I know that she knows them, but she won’t do them. I tried taking things away from her. Telling her that she wasn’t going to be able to go this weekend to IN unless she learned the first 5. She know doesn’t want to go and isn’t. I tried to explain to her that she has to know these to start school; she doesn’t want to go to school any more. I am at my wits end with her, I don’t know how else to get her to work on them. I don’t want to send her to Kindergarten if she doesn’t know them, she will already be SO far behind the other kids, and my oldest had that problem and she is still struggling through school. Anyone have any ideas for me?

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you for all the moms that gave great advice. I put her on the starfall.com and she loves it!! I hadn't thought of looking online for anything and that must be what she needs. She is excited to get on and do it and I sit there with her and she tells me what they are without me asking. To the other moms, she's stubborn, not stupid, but she has her own way of learning, and I still don't know what it is, She is the 4th child I have tought ABC's and 123's too and none of the other ways have worked. I have been trying for almost 2 years working on her ABC's. She knows everything else and has for years, that's why she didn't go to preschool. But if she can't learn her ABC's before school starts then I will not start her until next year since she is only 5, she doesn't have to start. Again thanks again to the moms with the good advice!

Featured Answers

I just got these AWESOME FUN DVD'S..My kids love. They are by PRESCHOOL PREP.. I got mine from the library... We had the site words dvds and my kids loved them.. So I went and found the Meet the COLORS, SHAPES, LETTERS, AND NUMBERS...

They are such cute dvd's and my kids LOVE THEM..

My kids are 5.5 years old (girl) and 4 year old boy...

Leap Frog Letter Factory is wonderful as well. It will also help her learn her phonics sounds...which she should know as well.


I haven't read all the responses but haven't you tried the ABC song with her? It's one we all used to learn the alphabet. Just sit with her and teach her the song. It's much easier to memorize lyrics than just letters.


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Are you kidding me?!?!?!?! You can not threaten a child to learn and you can not expect instant results (learn 5 today?!?). Lifelong learning is a process that takes time to implement, teach and appreciate. Also, please be very careful not to punish your daughter for your own procrastination. She's almost five. Did you not consider preschool? Why just now are you putting a mad rush on a learning process that can take several years to master? You need to stop IMMEDIATELY and re-evaluate your methods, your goals and your expectations.
If you truly want to help your daughter get ready for school, you need to re-establish fun in learning and make it a part of everyday life within your household. Reading (EVERYDAY!) to your children is the greatest gift you can give. They don't have to know every letter in every word, but you can offer an interest in stories, language and imaginative play that is the foundation of reading and language down the road.

If you really want to make progress, please consider creative, fun, positive learning opportunities as part of every day play.
* Have a "B" day. She can wear a brown shirt or a shirt with a bee on it, blow bubbles or bake brownines. Color a "B" and hang it on the fridge that day. Practice it subtly and add a different letter several days later.
(A = applesauce, art; M = M & M's for a treat, P = pack a picnic or play at the park, pink socks; S = silly songs, Skittles, etc., etc.)
* When you're sitting at the breakfast table, let her look at the cereal box while she enjoys breakfast. Casually point to the letters and spell out words. Do not drill her or force the issue, just do it and let her model you when she's ready.
* Play games on outings or during meals or activities. Look at packaging, placemats, books or toys. During play ask her to find a letter or two at a time (just a letter or two). Can you find an "A"? Where is the "T"? etc.
* Have alphabet soup for lunch, alphabits cereal for an afternoon snack or glue ABC pasta to construction paper for an art project.
* Sing. Sing every day. Make up silly songs (or better yet, let her make up a silly song about whatever she wants). You can sing about a Crazy Cat named CeCe or Dance with a Darling Dog named Doug or Zing the Zebra at the Zoo. It doesn't matter that it doesn't make sense. What you are doing is playing with sounds and teaching rhythm, rhyming and letter sounds.
* Take regular trips to the library and get involved in library groups or story time (they have programs for all ages, so all the kids could participate).
* I would also suggest allowing your older daughter to take a teaching role. By allowing her to share her knowledge and skills, you not only offer her an opportunity to build confidence and pride in what she knows, you also have an extra role model proving that ABCs are pretty cool and fun to learn.

No matter what, please keep in mind that learning needs to be fun. The more you force the issue, the bigger fight you'll have on your hands. Teachers will step in and polish off the details. Your job is to instill a love of learning through play and a willingness to participate in future learning activites.

2 moms found this helpful

My son loves to play with the bathtub letters that stick to the walls of the tub. Buy her a pack of those and give them to her to play with in the tub. I bet she'll get curious and start asking you which letter is which. Before you know it, she'll recognize all the letters!

Another fun idea is to sing the ABCs every time she washes her hands. We are supposed to wash them at least 15-20 seconds, 30 seconds is better, to get all the germs off, and singing the ABCs is perfect for timing. Singing the whole song at a usual slow pace will take 30 seconds. Once they get good and sing it fast, it still takes 15 seconds, so they still get their hands clean while happily singing the ABCs. Be sure, especially at first, to do it with them, and do it yourself, too, so your children see Mommy do it, and it just might keep the baby calm in the mean time, too.

Good luck!

Also, children do learn at their own pace. I have 4 with one on the way, and my first was reading by 3 and reading on his own by 4. My second is 6 nearly 7, and he has just gotten the reading thing going and still working on being able to do it on his own. Up until recently, he just did not want to put in the work to figure it out; he wanted to play and have some fun. Once he got the "critical mass" under his belt (or into his head) he now finds it fun and will voluntarily sit down on his own to read. My 4 year old reads 1 and 2 letter words, and my 19 month old is learning his letters. As we read books or stories I will just point them out to him, and he repeats, as best he can since he has only just begun to talk and is still in the "1 syllable without an ending consonant" stage mostly.

The idea is to make it fun, and just a part of what you do, not something extraordinary, or work (for as long as you can help it). Short, frequent repetitions are better than long sustained effort. Also, reading to your children at least once a day is really helpful all around, and even the infant benefits and might even begin reading before you are even aware you taught it! :)

I don't know which school district you are in, but my son has his last day of kindergarten today. I would check with the school to see what is required for them to know for kindergarten. I know the things they are requiring for kids to know for kindergarten has changed so much. Any advantage you can give them is great. Here are a couple of options that you can try. Now that your other daughter is out of school, let them play school. Let them take turns being the teacher and the student, you could include your three year old in this as well. I think the dollar store has little chalk boards, and there are some great websites out there that will allow you to print out worksheet pages, for age and grade specific for free. You could also plan some meals, and activities around the letter of the day. Have the kids come up with food and activities for the day to eat and play. A – apples, asparagus, art, and try to go through the alphabet.
They say that kids sometime learn better with someone other than a parent. You may want to think about starting her in school a year later, and doing either a pre school and pre kindergarten class in the fall. You could also check with the school or local library to see if they have a list of people who would be tutoring this summer. To really help she should not only know how to say or write the letter, but also know the different sound that each letter makes, and how to count. My son knew his letters and could count to 20, but still struggled. I know that my son’s class started reading books about 3-4 weeks into the school year, with not knowing all of his sound, he got behind very quickly. Leap Frog videos are really good, they have a set of 5 – letter factory, talking word factory 1 and 2, learn to read and Math circus, you maybe able to check them out at the library. I think I bought mine at Barnes and Noble, if not. Sorry this is so long, but it is hard to watch your child struggle and get frustrated, and then not want to take the time to try. By the end of Kindergarten they are adding and subtracting, have to know how to count by 2's, 5's and 10's.

Hi S.,

I am an educational consultant for Discovery Toys and also a First grade teacher. Please visit DT's website(www.discoverytoysinc.com), click on the catalog and check out all the wonderful teaching "games", especialy ABSeas. Look in the school years section of the catalog. I use several of these "games" in my classroom. If you want to earn some free educational toys, give me a call and we can set something up. J. ###-###-####

I just got these AWESOME FUN DVD'S..My kids love. They are by PRESCHOOL PREP.. I got mine from the library... We had the site words dvds and my kids loved them.. So I went and found the Meet the COLORS, SHAPES, LETTERS, AND NUMBERS...

They are such cute dvd's and my kids LOVE THEM..

My kids are 5.5 years old (girl) and 4 year old boy...

I am blessed with two strong willed children. To learn letters by sitting, coloring and learning would have never worked. Don't start with A. Start with T, M or S. Then look for it everywhere. If you find it 10 times on the way to the store, we'll get gum (or something). I had to be creative and let them read stop signs, license plates and food wrappers, but they learned at their pace. I did the same with couting. Count the post along side the highway, blue cars, people with glasses. ANYTHING. I also would have them take junk mail and circle all of one letter. You'll be amazed how many T's are in a letter. Then count them!

five hours is to long for a five year old to be expected to work on anything some easy suggestions are when you are driving any where have her look for letters onthe way get your older child and even your younger child involed , another way is make playdough while you are playing with her make letters and have her guess them, have you or your 9yr old read her alpphabet books (agreat one is chicka chica boom boom) check your local library they have great programs and story hours that are usually free or low cost. most of all relax and let it come natural , a childs attention span at this age is about 10 minutes long . children learn best through play and through peers of their own age . a nother way you can work with her is to make flash cards with the letters and a matching picture on another flash card and you or her older sister can play memory match. i have several other ideas too many to write . my name is D. and i am a retired preschool teacher if you are interested in more ideas my e mail is ____@____.com send me an email and i'll send you some more ideas

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