Learning the Alphabet and Numbers

Updated on September 30, 2013
T.P. asks from Tucson, AZ
14 answers

Hello. My daughter will be 4 this winter. She attends a primarily play- based preschool 3 mornings per week. She can state her ABCs and count to 20 but can not identify these when written nor can she write them herself. She can identify all colors and shapes.

My concern is that the majority of my friends with children this age can identify the written ABCs and numbers and have learned via apps on the ipad and or videos. Some even know the sound the particular letter makes. My daughter is totally uninterested in technology and is behind because of it (I think)! She refuses TV, videos, video games, the computer and the ipad/iphone

Are there any suggestions out there of products/toys/games/learning manipulatives that I could purchase that have nothing to do with technology?

Thank you!

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answers from New York on

She is not behind because she does not seem to like technology. Kids have been learning without electronics for a long, long time. Technology is not necessarily a good thing. Kids cannot, spell, do math or carry on an Intelligent conversation because of it.

Work with her at home using old fashioned methods, like puzzles, cards,
Pencil and paper and music. They work, really.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

There is an ancient technique, an old method used from days gone by. It's called:
Seriously. Just read to her, a lot. Plenty of books for that age group have counting and ABC's integrated into the stories. Have her count and sort whenever possible.
Buy those plastic ABC magnets for the fridge.
Introduce her to Sesame Street.
No one taught me my letters or numbers, I learned it all from watching Sesame Street and looking at picture books (my mom rarely interacted with me and I never went to preschool.)
Make sure she gets to do lots of beading, lacing, cutting, gluing, play doh, etc. Those activities will strengthen her fine motor skills (important for writing and drawing.)
Technology is EASY, kids pick it up way faster than adults, so don't worry about her falling behind.
Worry more about her physical, social and emotional skills, that's what she's going to need to be successful in school, and in life.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Please keep in mind that reading is a neurobiological skill. This means that some kids just naturally do it at 4, while others just aren't able till 7. It's like crawling. It varies, and while environment has some effect, it's minuscule. During twin studies in the 70s, having access to stairs didn't make the one twin start climbing stairs faster. Or rather, it did, but by a day.

When they are ready, they will do it. So, focus on what your child is doing. I'm sure she is ahead of other kids in some area. That's where her focus is, so focus on that.

Meanwhile. Read to her everyday!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

We have a BUNCH of those magnet letters. I will often tape some wax paper to a cookie sheet, then trace some of the letters. Then I have my DD match them up. (I sit with her, and will ask her to find a specific letter. If she needs help, I help her. Then, she matches it to the letter on the tray, and we make the sound.)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Read to her every night. And if they teach phonics, do that. My son enjoyed that and it gave him a strong basis for learning to read.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Billions of children learned their letters without the aid of computers, videos, and modern technology. Be happy that she's not interested in technology at this age.

Puzzles are a great way to help learn letters. So are the magnetic letters, you put on your refrigerator (although they're not that easy to find, try dollar stores).

You don't need any special materials. Some paper and makers are fine.

Hang up decorations in her room with her name on them. This is usually the easiest way to begin.

Make a game out of learning her letters. Pick a letter a week and focus on it. Put it in places where she sees it constantly, like on the refrigerator, on the toy box. Play let's find the letter "B". Point it out in books, on products. Talk about the sound it makes and find items that start with the letter.

Find out what techniques are being used in pre-school and continue the same at home.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You can help her by using her books. When you read, ask her to show you a certain letter. If its a counting book ask her to show you a certain number.

Make it a game, can you find me 2 things and show her a number 2. Then ask her to find you something that has a 2 on it. It's a great way for kids to be entertained and creative. Same with letters show her a letter, make the letter sound together, talk about things that have that sound and go on a scavenger hunt to find similar things that make that sound too.

Apps are good tools but not necessary by any means. Make a construction paper letter and have her hide it for you to find. After you find it, then you can decorate it together with things that start with that letter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Look at your local library. There are books for her and books for you to learn how to teach her. All kinds of games and ways of writing. Write in shaving cream. This can be an adventure for both of you.

One more thing, stop comparing kids. It steals your joy. Even if they all know the letters (and you are just assuming that) they still don't always connect the number with, How Many? She is fine! You are a good mom!
Take the pressure off both of you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Ya know, when my son was 4'ish, he had NO INTEREST at all, in learning all those things. At all. Nor did he even want to write or read.
He attended a play based Preschool with a little "academics" of basics.
And it was pretty much, developmentally age appropriate.

I did not "push" him. At all. Nor about having to "learn" all that.
AND I consulted with my older child's Kindergarten teacher about it to see her thoughts, and she said "DON'T WORRY!" And I didn't. She also said do not compare, your kid with others. Which I didn't anyway.
My son, only attended Preschool for about 6 months, then went to Kindergarten at 4 years old and then turned 5, after that.
And in Kindergarten, he did just FINE, per academics.
He really just took off, with learning and his academic skills and aptitude... naturally. And developmentally he was on, par. And all on his own and naturally, he learned a TON... and could count up to 100, and knew all his ABC's and MUCH more.

A kid using tech things to "learn" is not "better" than yours.
The tech devices do not make or break a kid's learning, ability.
A kid may learn, via gadgets. But then may not be "interested" in learning in regular classroom ways. So there is that drawback, too. To it and technology. However, our home is a techie home, my Hubby is in the tech field, and we have tech gadgets all over the house. And in Elementary school at my kids' school....starting from Kindergarten the kids have Computer class.
BUT my kids, learn the "regular" way too.
Because, "learning" is holistic. It comes from what a parent teaches them, as well as what they learn in school. And the learning is then, DIVERSE. Which is the best way, for a kid or anyone, to learn. Learning does NOT only come from, apps or computers or iPads.

So, please don't think, that only learning by tech gadgets, is going to be the ONLY way and the best way, to "learn."
Because learning ALSO comes from, INTERACTION with the parent and due to an interchange... of ideas and skills and discussions, with your child. Learning is not a one-way, street. In other words. Nor does it derive from only one source of information like tech gadgets.

AND if your child is uninterested in "technology" then fine.
No biggie.

But at some point, a kid will need to learn their way with technology.
And kids learn fast.
My kids, by the time they were 5 years old, were adept at our iPad and touch screens and computers. BUT we did not ONLY expose them to that for learning. We CONTINUALLY, even if my kids are 7 and 10 now, teach them things at home TOO, in regular, ways. Reading BOOKS, worksheets, paper and pencil, hands on activities, experiments, crafts, etc. Although my Hubby taught them computer programming, too. For kids.

Don't feel your kid is at a disadvantage. Just because all her classmates are glued to iPads or apps.
Don't feel pressured.
Your child is only going to be 4.
And they do not only learn, in school.
You can also teach her things at home too, in a FUN way.
My son went to Preschool too only part time. And it was mostly so he got some social interaction and skills. And I also taught him things at home. We still do that with my kids even if they are much older now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

She is not behind. She does not need to know these things until she goes to kindergarten. I would recommend books for learning. Read with her every day. My kids really loved the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to learn the alphabet. They also had the video, which was really great with catchy music. I had a little felt board with the coconut tree and the letters. We then got Chicka Chicka 123. The Dr. Seuss ABC's was another favourite.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

She is not behind b/c she lacks interest in technology! My son just turned 4 last week and he does not know how to write or recognize all his numbers and letters either. He IS interested in technology but mostly only so that he can play Angry Birds.

It's hard, I do get it. My daughter knew all her stuff by this age, but she was just naturally interested in it, my son...not so much. It's okay. Does it sometimes freak me out on the inside? Totally. But, it's normal and it's okay. Don't stress.

I truly believe the best thing you can do is read to her. Read all kinds of books as much as you can. I have also found that letter and number puzzles and board games work great too. My son loves to play board games and that helps with his number recognition for sure. Sometimes it's challenging b/c he has short attention span, but we do it. Card games too. We have a couple puzzles with letters on them and one number puzzle too.



answers from Portland on

First, I think it's great that your daughter is having fun exploring the real, tangible world. Do not rush to end that. Remember that these things were taught long before apps and technology found ways to make it entertainment.

My son was exactly where your daughter is, by the way, and he did fine in Kindergarten, so please do not worry. Remember that kids all learn different things at different times, so your daughter may be experiencing a lot of social growth and be learning other things which are more applicable to her life than number and letter symbols.

Above all, keep things fun! Here are a few fun things I did with my preschoolers:

Get a wooden tray puzzle of the alphabet, where the letters come out of the frame (as opposed to a jigsaw type puzzle)... we did 'letter hide and seek', hiding the pieces around the preschool and talking about them when we found them...

We played "cookie bakery" where we 'chose' our letter cookies from the baker, using spatulas and packing them into bags or containers

Make letters or numbers with playdough

Play a simple counting/math game, practicing counting objects and she watches you write them down while you talk about them:

Put some cornmeal on a backing sheet (with walled sides) and let her 'write'/draw on it, you can do the letters/numbers

Use half sheets of paper. On the first, write a number 1 and then draw one dot, the second is a numeral 2 with two dots, etc. go up to five to start.

Teddy Bear stories: I had made a 'map' of a fun world where a family of bears lived, and the kids moved some of them from place to place. (For example on a piece of paper you can have a field of flowers, a forest, a stream, a picnic park... whatever suits both of your fancy. I used teddy bear counters for this, but you can use other small toys. We'd move just a few at a time as a story "so, three bears went over to join the others by the scarecrow and two went to see the pumpkin patch. Let's count all the bears by the scarecrow... one, two, three, four, five; how many are by the pumpkin? One, two...." Kids generally like stories like this.

Write her name on a piece of paper, name the letters of her name. Write them each separately too. Find them in books or around the house. Refrigerator magnets also work well...

Let her count out things as she can, and keep practicing and keep it fun!



answers from San Francisco on

Look at Discovery Toys (www.discoverytoys.com). Everything they sell is educational and almost nothing takes batteries. They are fabulous toys. It is primarily a home-based company, but you can buy directly through their website if you don't have a rep.

Anyway, play-based school is awesome and your daughter is learning many great skills to prep her for kindergarten. You have the right idea - playing games withe letters and numbers is the way to go.

I am a Discovery Toys consultant but haven't worked actively this year. I can get additional info for you if you have questions about specific toys or products. Just send me a PM. My kids (ages 6 and almost 3) love the toys and have learned a lot from playing with them.



answers from Miami on

Take her to the Arts and Crafts store. In my daughter's preschool they use construction paper and learn a letter and then makie picture out of the letter or a picture of an item. Like She colored in an apple and the A right next to it. Get some ziti pasta and let her glue it to a paper in the shape of a letter. Get a bunch of glitter letters the big letters and let you daughter decorate her room with them. For numbers start playing hopscotch with her.

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