How Can I Get My 5Yr Old Son to Learn His Alphabet?

Updated on July 30, 2017
B.Y. asks from Miami, FL
18 answers

He's a stubborn learning. All he wants to do is play

What can I do next?

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answers from Columbus on

You don't say how old he is, but kids tend to learn best when you incorporate play. Think about the five senses, and be creative in ways to incorporate them.

You can read books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Play alphabet bingo. Make letters out of m&m's or popcorn and let him eat the letter if he recognizes it.. Write the letters in a sand tray so that he can trace them with his fingers. Point out letters everywhere.

Kids that age really like their names, so start with the first letter of his name. Once he learns that, move onto other letters.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

let him play! Sing songs in the car...the alphabet song if you must. Read him books...ABC 123 books. My son liked Chika CHika Boom Boom (I think that's the name).
Don't make it a chore. Just make it part of every day life.
But really? Kids are supposed to play when they are 5!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

Former preschool teacher here:

I never 'taught' my son the alphabet. He simply wasn't interested. We did other things and when he was in kindergarten, when *all the other kids* were 'doing' the alphabet, he did it too. I think he knew just a few letters and numbers going into kindy and all of them walking out, as well as simple reading skills.

What we don't hear-- and should hear more of, sadly-- is that our educational system is not actually harmonious with how children learn. By this, I mean we teach academics at too early an age, when we should be giving guidance for social skills and self care instead. It's easier for a teacher to help kindergarteners learn their ABCs and 123s than it is to teach them how to be in the group.

Lastly, please don't label your kid as a 'stubborn learner'. You can't 'get him to learn' his alphabet.. he has to WANT to learn it. Please don't force learning... it only creates a power struggle you will not win. I used games with my preschoolers to introduce these concepts, and that worked well for the kids who were ready to absorb the information. Of course your son 'only wants to play'. He's 5! Very normal!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Forcing young children into academics almost never works out. Good preschools and most kindergartens have play-based learning because that's how children learn the best. I don't know what your rush is, but please re-think this - you are setting up a battleground and turning learning into a chore he resents.

Go to your free public library at least once a week. If they have a program there (puppet show, game day), great - but even if they do not, do 2 things:
1) have him browse the books on display by the librarian, and choose one.
2) choose a topic he likes (dinosaurs, insects, planets, farming, cooking....) and show him how to find that section of the library. Start with the computer, and go to the "search" function, and choose "children's library." Then have him type in the topic with your help. Make it your job with his help - not his job to do. So, if he likes "farming," then say, "Hmmm...farming starts with F" and then make the sound, then make a game of finding the F on the keyboard. Don't quiz him or drill him - just make it a treasure hunt since the keyboard is not in alphabetical order. After the F, find the A, then the R, then the M and so on. Don't get frustrated, just have fun - if it's YOUR fun and he's joining you, that's better than yelling at him that he doesn't know what an F is and he's taking too long. Then, when the farming books come up, write down the Dewey Decimal numbers on a piece of paper. Then go through the treasure hunt of finding the numbers in the stacks. Just have him find the first number. So if agriculture books are in the 630s, have him find numbers on the signs that start with 6. Stop there. After that, YOU find the 630s and then have him pull out a few books, while you read the titles for him. He can sit on the floor and open a few up, choosing what he wants. Don't influence him or push him - make this entirely his choice. Read to him, and when you get home, read to him some more, every night before bed. When you come to a letter that is the first in his name, point it out. That's all. Focus on the joy of reading!

Now, take him to children's museums or zoos and read the signs/descriptions together. Whatever he wants to find out more about, make that a game. "Okay, you want to learn about the lion? Lion starts with L, so we have to find a sign that has a big L on it. If he finds the Lemur instead, you can comment, "Good job finding the L! But this animal is the lemur." (Point to the letters.) "Lemur starts with L-E. Lion starts with L-I. So we need to find the I right next to the L. I'll look." (And then hopefully he will help you. If he doesn't, just go learn about lions.) But don't spend the entire day searching for letters - it's really about seeing the exhibits and animals, and making learning and exploration FUN! You have to be excited about it, not using it as a lecture opportunity.

Get some simple board games for his age, and make time every other day to play together. He'll learn to read little by little just to advance his play.

Beyond that, leave the teaching to the teachers. I promise you that he will know all his letters by the end of kindergarten. Don't feel you need to teach him everything so the teachers don't have to - especially when you find teaching so frustrating.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Sorry, mama, but the problem is you, unless your son has a learning disability.

His job is to play. The way he learns is by playing. The trick to teaching him the alphabet is for him to learn like this. Whatever you are doing isn't working.

Is he in preschool? If he isn't, then you need to get him into a program. If he is a young 5, don't put him into kindergarten in the fall. He may be a very immature kindergartener and need some time to mature.

You can also hire a good preschool teacher who is off for the summer (not a daycare worker) who can work with him with play-based learning. Watch her! See what she does to help him.

All this being said, if your son still struggles, you should get him tested. A psycho-educational evaluation will give you and his school a lot of useful information on how he learns, what his strengths and weaknesses are, and how to help him learn. With this information, you can work with the school to give him an IEP. It could be the difference between him getting through kindergarten and having to repeat if he has learning problems.

What you consider being a "stubborn learner" may just be that he doesn't understand and doesn't want to try because he's struggling. You MUST figure out if this is the issue.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Play games with him and make it fun.
Try not to make it a chore.
When you read with him, point out words and letters.
There was a Dr Seuss book we read all the time.
"Dr. Seuss's ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book!"

Our son wasn't reading in kindergarten but by the 2nd half of 2nd grade it all just clicked for him and his reading really took off.
By 3rd grade he was reading Harry Potter on his own.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I assume he's starting kindergarten in the fall since he's 5. He'll learn the alphabet over the next year very well. I suggest you find some games online that support learning kindergarten skills so he's on the same level as his peers.

Some kids take longer. It just happens. My husband's IQ is high, Mensa high, but he didn't learn to read until going into 2nd grade. He went to SLC to spend the summer with his grandparents and his grandmother read to him every day from the scriptures. When he went back home he was reading above his grade level.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Myers on

My son is the same age and is starting kindergarten in a couple of weeks. He was the same way. Barnes and noble has abc flash cards for under $5. I bought those and the number one they had.

I started off by taking 3 random letters and setting 6 cards on the floor. I did 2 rows of 3 mixing around the upper case and lower case letters. Get him to be able to match up the upper case letter and lower case letters together. Say the letters and their sound with/for him.

Add more letters eventually. Keep track of what letters he knows well, add 1 or 2 to the mix so his confidence keeps up. There are pictures on the back. I would have him find the 2 apple pictures and he had to tell me what letters he found. Mix it up. Point to letters at stores or in books.

The key is, don't over work him. Sometimes my son would be done learning in 5 minutes, sometimes even shorter or longer than that. Don't make him hate it. If he's done, stop, come back to it in a little while.

I will admit that I bribed my son. I bought hotwheels cars, $1 each. Everytime he learned 5 letters, I gave him a car. Sometimes he would work for days and still struggle, I would give him a new car.

Even on bad days, praise the hell out of him. There are letters I know my son knew but he would say I don't know. He would do this a lot. Its just part of the learning process. Its frustrating at times but keep a positive attitude. Just build up your sons confidence. He will get it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We had many alphabet books - where each page was dedicated to a letter, with pictures of things that begin with the letter. We'd say the letter, then I'd get them to point to the things and say them out loud. Dr. Seuss books, Richard Scary, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom .. so many to choose from. We also had some videos (Sesame Street put some out) for alphabets. We never sat down and actually taught the alphabet. Our preschool did some but it was based on fun.

My mom was a kindergarten teacher her whole career. One fun thing she did with her kids was to have a letter of the week. Everyone had to bring in something from home that began with the letter. So for the T week, some kids brought in toothbrushes - one kid even brought in toast. You could do something similar - have a letter A day - and have him collect a few things around the house or outside (that begin with the letter A). Just fun games.

They do cover this in kindergarten so even if he's not up on his whole alphabet, I'm sure he will catch on. Often teachers will hand out ideas to help kids with learning at home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

He will learn naturally, when you read books together, when you sing the ABC's, when he watches Sesame Street. Make sure he has blocks and puzzles with letters and magnet letters on the fridge.
You don't need to "teach" him this, just surround him with letters and he will pick it up, just like he learned how to speak, you didn't "teach" him that did you? He just picked it up, so relax!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

All he wants to do is play, then play. Go outside, look for things that start with different letters. Look for things that look like letters. When you go to the store, look at favorite packages and talk about the letter. When my oldest were little, one project they did in class was bring in the wrapper or package of a product. They talked about the letters.



answers from San Antonio on

The Letter Factory on DVD. Best thing for my daughter she loved it and watched it over and over and over. (Taught her all the letters and their sounds...she still decided she didn't want to learn to read until first teacher was shocked she knew all letters and sounds refused to blend the sounds and read...first grade came and she started reading like gang busters). I guess my point is you can't make them learn it. She knew it and wouldn't use it.

If he is starting kinder in the fall just let him play this summer and the teacher will jump on letters first thing when they start. However if the likes the DVD it might work for him too.



answers from Los Angeles on

Play. It will help him learn. He's young yet. At the Dollar Store, they often have the alphabet as a border, put it up in a playroom or above a desk. Let him watch educational cartoons like ("Dora", "Team Umizoomi", "Go Diego Do" etc.). He will learn subliminally. Make learning fun..."if you name 5 things that start with an "A", we'll go to the library". or while you're at the park, ask what 5 things do you see that start with a "C"? Buy 2 sets of cheap magnetic letters to make fun words like car or cat (keep it at the table).


answers from Los Angeles on

Music. Sing it over and over.



answers from Springfield on

It's ok that all he wants to do is play. At 5 years old he actually learns best through play. If he likes puzzles, get him a puzzle with the alphabet. If he likes books, there are tons of ABC books you could try. If he likes watching tv, keep in mind that many of the shows geared towards his age group are teaching letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc. I swear Mickey Mouse taught my son more than I did.

Is your son about to start kindergarten? If so, try not to worry about it. I volunteered with both of my sons' kindergarten classes, and there are actually quite a number of kids that do not begin kindergarten already knowing their letters or numbers or something else. Kindergarten can't be the easiest grade to teach some days, as the kids come in with a wide range of knowledge. Some kids walk in knowing letters, numbers, shapes and colors. Some kids walk in not knowing any of those. Most of the kids are somewhere in between.

Relax. Keep letting him play. When you see a stop sign, point it out to him. Do the same with other simple words. Read to him. He'll catch on!



answers from San Francisco on

Does he enjoy crafts? We made an ABC journal and the kids really enjoyed it. For example for letter A we made an apple in the shape of an A. In the beginning the kids were just confused but when we completed all the letters they love reading the book! We also use seeds to spell out words, write it in playdough or stamp it with letter stamps, letter stickers to make words. We also use the "what letter is this" before they can play outside to get them to want to learn a few letters. It will come in time, hang in there!



answers from Pittsburgh on

whenever he plays with his favorite things, write on a car example

Car with emphasis on C so he knows car starts with C, do this with whatever he is interested in, it will stick


whenever he plays with his favorite things, write on a car example

Car with emphasis on C so he knows car starts with C, do this with whatever he is interested in, it will stick


whenever he plays with his favorite things, write on a car example

Car with emphasis on C so he knows car starts with C, do this with whatever he is interested in, it will stick



answers from Philadelphia on

Since the day I brought my girls home from the hospital I used to sing the alphabet song to them every night. I also bought every alphabet book in the book store and we read them over over. Through these activities my girls just learned the alphabet without ever formally teaching them the names of letters or the sounds.

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