22 answers

Son Having Trouble Remembering Letter Sounds

Hi, my son is having trouble learning to read. He knows all the letter names. I can show him a B and he'll say "bee", but I have a hard time getting him to say the sound that B makes: "buh"

Is this something I should be concerned about? Are there any ways I can help him with this? Thanks in advance.

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What can I do next?

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Have you ever heard of ZooPhonics? They are really fun to learn, and each letter has a corresponding character (A-Allie Alligator, B-Bubba Bear..) sound, and arm movement. It makes it a little bit more fun to learn, and I have seen 2 year olds master it with this program. Plus, it has a song and a dance, what kid doesn't like that?

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I was a kindergarten teacher for three years and for my students having trouble remembering their letter sounds I would put them on www.starfall.com and choose the ABC's on the left side and have them go through the ones they are having trouble with. Hope this helps. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

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Have you ever heard of ZooPhonics? They are really fun to learn, and each letter has a corresponding character (A-Allie Alligator, B-Bubba Bear..) sound, and arm movement. It makes it a little bit more fun to learn, and I have seen 2 year olds master it with this program. Plus, it has a song and a dance, what kid doesn't like that?

2 moms found this helpful

I was a kindergarten teacher for three years and for my students having trouble remembering their letter sounds I would put them on www.starfall.com and choose the ABC's on the left side and have them go through the ones they are having trouble with. Hope this helps. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter who is 4 1/2 watches The Letter Factory by Leap Frog DVD....it is awesome and she knows all of her sounds...this dvd was referred by all of the kindergarten teachers at my oldest school to help them wiht letters at home..it works..and the kids like the video...

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,

We used "The Letter Factory" by LeapFrog. My son learned his sounds in less than a month at 3. And then to keep him sharp, we sounded out small words. I made it a game he played with his older sister. Now that he is in kindergarten, he is reading way above average.


My kids had an easy time learning to read because they didn't say the alphabet letters--like "W" as that can be confusing at times. Instead, they said the sounds that the letters make. I think that there is a song for this.
I used to teach reading and kids learn best when you, as a parent do a few things to help. Read to him every day, and as you read, let him use his pointing finger to follow along as you read.
As well, when he inevitably chooses the same story, when you read it, omit saying the last word or phrase, and allow him to say it.
Another trick I did was to put a "word" into my kids lunch box. Our refrigerator had magnet sight words on it and when I was cooking dinner, that was something we looked at and they memorized them. Good luck and keep it fun!

Have your son start watching Super Why on PBS. It is a very good show and it teaches kids how to spell as well as learning the alphabet sounds.

Hi A.,

You didn't say how old he is?

He might need help with phonemic awareness. Or he might just be young still and needs more time. The method you use can also affect results.

My sister is a dyslexia specialist and uses a program called LIPS to help kids who have problems pronouncing the correct sounds of letters. She helps the children learn how to form their lips, teeth and tounge for the appropriate sound.

My youngest had a lot of difficulty saying sounds. (I think her 1/2 inch overbite didn't help). Eventually we prevaled. My sister could have helped but lived a half hour away in Fremont. So we worked on it at home using SWR cards. She is 7 and does fine now. We homeschool, and use a program called Spell to Write and Read ,(SWR),by Wanda Sanseri.I compared it to her reading program and it uses many similar techniques and reading rules. It has flashcards. We hold up the card and say only the phonogram sound, (not the name of the letter.) Also there is no picture on the cards. Both of these differences help with lessening confusion. Only a white card with a black letter typeface on it. For example, I hold up a letter A, and I say "a - A - ah " (the short sound, then the long sound, and finally the ah sound). I say them in exact same order everytime. They are said from most common sound to least common sound. After she learns the sounds of the letters on the cards, we then learn the name of the letter as she learns to form the letter on paper , and subsequently spell it in words and write the spelling words in a journal. From all of this, she learns to read! It's an amazing program, and no struggling or tears like the other reading program I used with my firstborn. However, you will need to tutor yourself by reading the coresponding manual, or go to training classes to learn how to use it. If you know someone who homeschools and uses it they can be a Godsend, because I think just using the cards alone, without all the other stuff, if used correctly, can help kids get past many reading hurdles.

Whatever you decide to use, be patient and know that he will get it eventually. If he is 7, 8, or 9, in the public school system and still struggling with correct letter sounds, try a dyslexia or other special ed tutor who uses the lips program (barton program)or other equivalent program.

If he is just young and not remembering, some kids do need more time than others. My youngest, (with the overbite) took twice as long as my other two to memorize letter sounds. It was like pounding it into a wall! It seemed like she had to be at a brain maturity level before it could sink in. Once her brain was "ready", then she indeed learned it. Sometimes vitamins can help with memory. Thiamine , glutamine , lemon balm, Cod liver oil, are all documented to help memory.


Greetings A., You do not say how old your child is, I really hope that he is over 4 when teaching him to read.
I am a Child Advocate, and am having several parents that seem to think it is the current and Yuppie thing to teach the child to read at age 2.
As the mother of 5 and now the grandmother of several children, I have learned that diffrent things can cause a child to not be able to make the sounds you desire.
Having worked with a Speach Therepist for severl years( with 2 of my sons) may I share this, just to consider.
My sons both had an excessive amount of ear infections. One child, actually had his ear tubes not completely formed. The point being, that they DID NOT hear and learn the normal sounds at the age that is generaly accepted of a child. It was at 5 for one child, after several operations, and at 8 for the other child for the same reasons. They had to learn later because of the way that they HEARD the sounds was muffled and as if under water. They are just fine now and have been very succesful in everyway. I have to say that at one son's hearing appointment-- the doctor was trying to "prepare us" that he would most likely never speak. Then all of a sudden the child looked up at a picture of the Doctor on a motorcycle & said" Ka- wa- sake" he sounded out each part but he got it out. It taught the doctor a mighty lesson. Take Care, Nana Glenda

My son learned to read at 3 without the assistance of preschool. Here is an idea to reinforce letter sounds as opposed to their names. I also highly recommend a CD that you can get from your local Discovery Toys consultant. You can find a consulatant in your area http://www.discoverytoysinc.com/. It is called Sounds Like Fun. It is completely educational, and has a great song on it that goes through the alphabet and reinforces the letter sounds not their names.

This article was found on www.seemomteach.com.
Visit your home improvement/hardware store and buy a multi pack of the finest grade sand paper there is. It will most likely be 20 sheets I think. You will either have to cut two letters per sheet, or buy 6 extra sheets individually to have enough for the 26 letters. Cut the lower case version of the alphabet/letters out of the sandpaper sheets. Now buy a foam board & cut it into squares/rectangles and glue the sandpaper letters each onto one. You can also use wood if that is a better medium for you.

When you are working on her letters with your child, hold their hand and trace their finger over the letter in the way that you would write the letter. While doing so verbalize the sound the letter makes. For example trace their finger over the a while saying aahhhh. The texture of the sanpaper will help to engrave the letters sound and shape into your child’s mind. Work on no more than 5 letters in a week. Repeat this often throughout the week with all letters. The tactile, and audible stimulation will be a good combination for your child.

Once you feel your child has mastered the 5 letters move onto this…

You can get a posterboard… or if you want something nicer make a felt version of an alphabet quilt (instructions below). On the posterboard draw a grid of 6 rows of 5. Starting in the top left corner with a and moving from left to right in the lower case versions of the alphabet. You will have 4 empty squares at the end, go nuts and decorate them, lol.

Now find a miniature object that begins with each letter of the alphabet. For example A=Apple, B=Ball, C=Cake…Once you have them all. Take the objects and lay them on the ground next to the poster board. Ask your child to find the object that starts with aahh. Then ask her to pick it up and lay it on the letter sound it starts with. If your child is struggling with a particular letter have them go back to the sandpaper letters for the ones they are struggling with. Have fun with it, and remember that if your child is involved in making it, they will have more invested in it.


I recommend the TV show, Word World on PBS. It's a really fun, educational show. Sesame Street is always great. Of course, just reading to him and sounding out a few words here and there is fun. We have foam letters that we got at Target (2 sets of them) that our son plays with in the bathtub. Every night at bathtime, we play around spelling and sounding out words. He loves it and could play all night. I recommend the book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Teaching Your Kids to Read". You didn't mention how old your son is, but from preschool on, there are Hooked on Phonics and other Phonics books, tapes, etc. that make reading fun. I wouldn't start to worry or pressure him too soon, though. Keep it fun! :)

You haven't said how old he is. If he's 3, like my daughter, you're doing great. If he's 6-7, I'd be worried and try to get help from his school.

How old is he??? My youngest could not read till second grade and is a senior in college, majoring in geography after only 2 1/2 years...

I don't really have any recommandations as to how to teach your son phonics, however, I just wanted to reassure you that, there is most likely, nothing wrong with your son. I had a hard time learning phonics when I was a child. I learned all my alphabet in probably about 1 week in my kindergarden class, however, I had a hard time with phonics. It took me much longer mainly because I was a visual learner - not an audio learner. Also, I was an immigrant so it took me a while to pick up the sounds. I wouldn't panic if your son takes a bit longer than anticipated.

Recognizing and accurately reciting letters and their sounds is a kindergarten benchmark, meaning ideally your child should be able to do this by the end of kindergarten. So if he's in kindergarten, just relax and keep practicing the little letter and word books he comes home with. If he's in first grade, do the same thing, but also speak to his teacher regarding your concerns. First grade teachers are the REAL experts when it comes to teaching children to read! And your son's teacher will be able to give you specific advice and strategies regarding how to best help and support YOUR child :)

Of course reading every day is important, but I am also a Big fan of "Tha Letter Factory". It's a Leap Frog DVD and it really seemed like my son memorized all the sounds of his letters so quickly simply by watching this fun and informational dvd. Once he has his letters down, they also have "The Word Factory". Which is a great introduction of how to put letters together to make words. They are so fun and makes it fun for the kids, which is always great! Good luck!

Without knowing his age, how can anyone know if you should be concerned? Age is very relevant.

Without knowing, I can only suggest looking for phonic songs that he can listen to--I'm sure you can find some cds that have letter/phonic lyrics. I think it is a pretty big business. =)

my children learned "zoophonics" in preschool. every letter has an animal, a motion and uses the phonics for each letter. example, "dee dee dear says d d d" hand on the head, 2 finders up like ears. they learn light emphasis on the letter sound for an easier tranistion to sounding out words when reading. you can probably find this online.

"The Letter Factory" dvd is very cute. It has a cute little story line about the youngest frog sibling, Tad, learning the letter sounds and visiting the factory where all the letters learn to make their sounds. There's a little song for each "room" and something the help remember the sound (ie, the As are afraid so they scream "ah!").

Whether or not you should be concerned depends on how old he is. The fact that you don't say anything about his teachers makes me think he's not school aged, so I'd say, don't worry about it. Keep it light and fun and he'll get it.

Hope this helps,

I don't know how old your son is but mine is 5, and I help in the classroom. Alot of the kids forget how the short sound of the letter sounds, they remember the long sound cause it's easier.lol He'll get it they all do

You can use leap frog movies. there great. also used click n read. You can used a promtion code of ____@____.com gives you a discount I think.

How old is your son?

Just keep reading to him! Learning phonics without story context is dull and hard to learn. Reading to your child using predictable text such as repeating lines and rhyming rhythms is the best way to improve literacy skills!
Have fun :)

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