Advice About 2 and a Half Year Old Visual Learning

Updated on June 12, 2009
L.R. asks from Georgetown, MA
8 answers

Hi all,

I'm wondering if any other moms have experienced this with a toddler. The situation seems peculiar to me. My son said his first words very early, starting around 6 months. Before a year, he already had quite a few words and at a 18 months could put together 3-4 words at a time. Now at 30 months, he still talks well in comparison to others his age, can count to 20 and recite his alphabet. However, I've been showing him the letters of the alphabet for at least a year now and having him repeat the sound. When you ask him what the letters are, he can't identify them and even argues. For example, I'll say "This is the letter D." He'll say "No, not D, C." and does the same thing with colors. This is very frustrating. I'm not sure if he's being rebellious or if he has a visual problem. Do any other moms experience this with children of this age group????

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answers from Boston on

I really wouldn't worry about it. For 2 reasons at this age it isn't that important that he knows the letters and it's common to make mistakes. The other reason is kids like to show some independance and control and it sounds like that's what he's doing.
He is young and I'ld just read to him and let him see words that way.
asa preschool teacher we didn't even teach letters until they were 3 or 4.

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answers from Boston on

L., Ignore ALL advice that indicates there is something wrong with your child. Let him be two years old!!!!! Two year olds do not need to know their colors and letters and sounds. Reading etc. is best learned at 6-7. There are currently issue in the schools because some schools are trying to teach 4 year olds to read and write and because they are not ready they are technically failing. In the end you are doing him a disservice by trying to force something he doesn't need to know or learn yet. Eventually al kids catch up and the early readers etc, show no signs of being smarter or more successful. LET HIM BE TWO AND LET HIM DO GREAT JOB OF BEING TWO. Good luck

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answers from Boston on

First of all he is very young. The only time children tend to learn these things early is when they are interested. Most are not, nor do they have the attention span. I would give it a break and come back to it when he's closer to preschool age. I was a preschool teacher and many 3-4 year olds can't identify letters. I do commend you for trying to do things with him and do keep encouraging him to learn by telling him what things are w/out expecting a reply. Focus on books with colors and talking about the colors of crayons and paint you use etc.. I wouldn't be concerned about him not being able to get it right. good luck

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answers from Boston on

I would get his vision tested just to be sure he;s OK. There are Montessori sandpaper letters that are a great way of teaching the ABCs. It involves auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning since he may learn best another way other then visual. The idea is you run your child's two fingers (index and middle) in the direction as if writing the letter and say the sound of the letter not the name of the letter first. Example: Say 'bu', run fingers on letter, and then say, That's the letter 'B'. They are a great learning tool. Hope this helps.

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answers from Boston on

Hi L.,
Your son may have difficulty identifying letters/shapes; a sort of dyslexia. Read up on it and think about testing him in a year or two - he just may be slow in getting it. Also, pressure will only make it harder for him.
All the best,

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answers from Hartford on

I agree with MaryAnne that your son may be rebelling against the quizzing. My daughter (2 yrs, 4 mo) does something similar - she knows the colors but will say, for example, that a school bus is red, when she knows it's yellow. I think this is more about asserting her independence than it is about her knowledge of colors. It's along the same lines of when toddlers say "No" even to things they want. I wouldn't sweat it...

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answers from Boston on

It doesn't sound like he's enjoying the letter and color quizzes, so I would recommend dropping it for a while and then re-introducing it in a fun, pressure-free way. For example, instead of quizzing you could just start talking about colors and letters in books you read together, play I-spy type games (find the red ball, find the green ball, where's the letter "A") so it's fun for him instead of testing.

With letters, it is common for very young children to mix up similar letters and it's something they out-grow. For colors, you could always talk to your pediatrician about colorblindness testing, but again I would guess it's just being tired of being quizzed. Some researchers think that putting the pressure on for academic performance in early childhood leads to poor attitudes toward learning later in life. He'll get his letters and colors in good time, and it's better for him to enjoy the process than for him to be the "first" to know them.



answers from Barnstable on

The Cape Cod Times had an article about Irlen Syndrome on July 17th. I don't know how to link it here as I saved it into my own files and the link may not work. You can search for it online or email me at [email protected] if you want more information.

Here's the contact information from the website - it may be worth looking into:

Visit the Web site of the Irlen Institute in California at or the Web site of Massachusetts Irlen expert Georgianna Saba at

To set up a Cape consultation with Julie Sacchetti and Tracy Bowman at the Irlen Connection, call ###-###-#### or ###-###-####. They also can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected] Sacchetti says a screening costs $199.

All the best to you and your brilliant boy!

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