Number Recognition Help

Updated on January 05, 2016
K.G. asks from Lehigh Acres, FL
22 answers

My son will be 4 at the end of April. I have been working with him for months on number recognition. He can point out 2 numbers from 1 to 10. I have bought games, made games, and he has games on the tablet. I feel like its a struggle for him to learn. I haven't even started the alphabet with him yet. I feel like I don't know how to teach him. Hes active, we live in Florida so we are outside everyday. Maybe I should try hopscotch. Any ideas?

He's home with me and in august he will start preschool. They have kids reading in kindergarten now. I don't think its fair that kids have to grow up so fast.

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answers from Norfolk on

Just relax.
Some kids can pick it up on the early side while others can't - and there's no reason to push him.
If he's still having trouble in first and second grade, then have him evaluated.
But - and this is important - learning this by 6 or 7 years old ISN'T LATE.
It's just some kids learn it early - and for some reason parents feel competitive when they shouldn't.
It's not a competition.
Let him play and have fun.
This is how he's learning right now and that's all he needs.
Let him BE three.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I didn't teach we just read books like "One red balloon", "Two green boats" etc. for fun.

In kindergarten they learn the basic words like I, is, to etc. and all the kids pick it up so by end of year they are more or less the same. By grade 2, they can often read chapter books. It's age related. I wouldn't stress over a 3 to 4 year old not knowing his numbers. He may just not be that interested.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

He's 3. You need to stop worrying about this right now. Sure, you should talk about numbers (as you go for a walk, say "let's count how many houses on this block"). And you can and should read books that have counting - my toddlers loved Sandra Boynton's "One Two Three". Your job is to expose him to numbers and letters (and new foods, and different cultures, and animals and everything else in life) at every opportunity. But not to be a teacher - there is a difference.

Yes, some kids read in kindergarten. But most of them learn during kindergarten, not before. Relax.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You need to back off and let the kid watch Sesame Street. I learned all my colors, letters, numbers and even early words and math concepts from watching that show thirty minutes a day, five days a week.
Oh, and not every child reads in K. Just because they're pushing it doesn't mean every child is doing it. Go and observe a classroom for yourself if you don't believe me.
Sing counting songs with him, have him count with you NATURALLY, like when you get apples at the store, or when you are spending money. Let him sort and build and do puzzles. That IS math.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm so angry that institutionalized schooling, which has a clear agenda including selling overpriced textbooks, is putting this terrible pressure on both young mothers and young children by making this an absolute.
he's only 3. please stop 'working' with him. i'm betting that you don't believe you're being oppressive and you're keeping it light and fun, but please believe me, 3 year olds are remarkably astute at picking up on non-verbal cues and he gets your anxiety over this. you could be setting him for a lifetime of resistance to learning.
i don't mean to put MORE pressure on you. it's hard today for moms to learn to relax and enjoy these precious, valuable, irreplaceable years. but it's really really really the best thing you can do.
by 3 some kids are already adding. many more are not. kindergarten is where they all get shoved into a more or less homogenous pile. you don't have to start that process before its time.
he's not even in preschool yet (and good for you for not starting THAT any earlier.) stop making him 'struggle' with learning. don't even think about adding the alphabet to the pressure.
watch sesame street. read dr suess (lots and lots of this.) put number magnets on the fridge (and resist the impulse to force him to play with them.) count his toes in the bathtub.
count the birdies at the feeder. count down to taking a bite of a cookie.
but don't count everything.
the world is a huge learning environment. learning should natural and spontaneous and fun. every interaction should not be a lesson, but an opportunity.
if you enjoy hopscotch and he enjoys hopscotch and hopscotch is a fun thing to do, play hopscotch. do NOT play hopscotch to try and shoehorn in another lesson.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My only suggestion would be to lay off trying to teach him this right now. Really. My son went into K knowing two numbers and left fully at benchmark. Your little guy is three. Let him do 'three' stuff: play play play. Numbers will make more sense to him when he can understand their applications. At this point, he has no *need* for written numbers and is about 2 years off from basic computation.

Really, I promise this is how many, many kids learn. When you are saying 'it's a struggle for him to learn' it's because this is incredibly abstract. I worked in early childhood ed for 20 years. It starts with simple counting-- counting steps you take, counting how many scoops of something it takes to fill up a container, counting how many blocks you used to build a tower-- the counting and oral number introduction is *applicable* use of numbers. Just like counting for hide and seek-- then there's a purpose. Eventually, the counting will move toward the desire to write and record information and that is when the numbers will make more sense.

I'm going to include a link to a post I wrote on introducing number use and math equations-- just break it down simply to use it how it works for you.(In your situation, I wouldn't use the equation scripting at all, simply the counting and writing down the number to build familiarity.) I think the activities, when done with no pressure, are tangible and more applicable to kids than typical 'learning' types of tools. Just counting and writing down the number is ALL you should do for now, in my opinion. When we let our children lead with their own play and interests, we tap into a very valuable asset in their learning. And keep it short-- if he's not interested today, it may be that he's doing some other important learning. At three, social growth is primarily what's taking place. Knowing how the child develops is intrinsic to respecting the child's individual learning path.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

He's not even 4, and I'm really curious why you are so worried about academics. Children learn a lot of things through play, and teaching them facts (numbers, letters, state capitals, anything else they have to regurgitate on command) hasn't been shown to accomplish anything long-term except stress. Just because a preschooler can't recite facts and figures doesn't mean at all that he's not learning. In fact, your drilling of him is getting in the way of his learning but taking up so much of his time and making him so focused on performing to get your approval.

A child this age should be outside, and if he's doing hopscotch it should be to develop gross motor skills and not to learn numbers. He should have a wide variety of toys that have nothing to do with numbers or letters. He should be building, doing puzzles, working with a variety of textures (sand play, water play...), going on nature walks to collect leaves or pine cones or whatever is in your area), and going to parks and children's museums just to EXPERIENCE things and not to recite them to you. Inside, you should be reading TO him and not focusing on him learning the letters - read a variety of books (fiction, non-fiction) that are age appropriate and which deal with a number of subjects. He should be listening to music, dancing, playing fantasy/dress up, building blanket forts and making club houses out of refrigerator boxes (with your help of course). He should have kitchen toys and workshop toys and board games and kickballs and a tricycle.

Put aside the academics, please! I think you are right when you say you don't know how to teach him. You should learn a lot more about childhood development and how children learn EVERYTHING they need to know. A child who can recite letters/numbers but whose brain didn't develop because his parents were too focused on one tiny area of learning will eventually learn those letters/numbers and have absolutely zero idea how to use them and how to function in life.

When I was teaching, we saw all kinds of kids come into kindergarten. Some knew the alphabet, some had no clue. It didn't matter. Half the time the one who was so "brilliant" because he knew these things was the one who had to repeat kindergarten (at considerable heartache) because he didn't have the social skills or the verbal skills that come from talking about and discovering a wide variety of things. These kids get so frustrated when they get a "wrong" answer that they cannot adjust. Please, just stop and go have FUN with him - that is how he will learn the best!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

Please stop with academics. Your kiddo should be outside playing as much as possible. Building things, experiencing dirt and water. Being read to for enjoyment. Kids learn things at different paces. The idea for kids to be reading before kindergarten isn't a good one. I am including a link for you about Finnish schools. They are doing things right there and are ranked high in the world in academia. The US is in the middle and losing ground. Longer hours, ridiculous amounts of homework are not the answer. I believe the reason why the Fins have it right is due in part to everyone, including the teachers, loving what they do and providing a wonderful environment for learning. Did you know they allow their students to go barefoot because they want it to be a home like environment. No tardy bells, fireplaces and lounges for kids to enjoy. They don't start teaching reading until the child is 7 because it's important to learn other skills first. They also have the lowest illiteracy rates.

I cringe when I hear government officials say the school day needs to extend until 5 p.m. It's ridiculous. I don't know why we can't seriously look at what others are doing and try to replicate it.

Please rethink what you're doing. Don't fall into a trap of thinking your kid needs to be reading by 5. There is no proof it is an advantage to do so.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Hi K.,

I wish I could be of more seems like a lifetime ago that my DS (14) went through these milestones. I will say two things though.

First, every child achieves milestones at their own pace. What your dealing with here has more to do with neurological development than "learning things." Is his brain developed enough to meet these tasks you deem important?

Second, if it were me, I'd either talk to his ped or get a referral to a therapist that specializes in brain and toddler development and ask that he or she inform you more deeply on what milestones are reasonable for what age/stage of development. At that point, they can make a professional determination if he needs to be evaluated.

Don't pressure him, he's still SO little. Yes, as mothers it's important to be their teachers but it's more important that we be their supporters and their soft place to be safe and loved and accepted for their efforts as well as their accomplishments. I'm sure he'll be just fine and so will you once you get some more thorough information and knowledge in this area. :-) S.

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answers from Boston on

Sometimes when we are trying to teach we overwhelm by offering too much info all at once. Break it down a bit for him.

Declare this week the week of 4. Arrange food on his plate in the number 4. Play games where when 4 comes up there's something extra special that happens. Write the number 4 on the fridge and bathroom mirror. At the end of the week he should have #4 down pat and you can move onto another number. Remember to throw in your old friend 4 every once in a while so he'll retain that while adding another number.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Look, most kids level out in K.
There will be kids reading on day O., but they'll ALL be reading by the last day.
So relax.
Try having him trace numbers on the kitchen table in sand/sugar/shaving cream.
Introduce O. letter per day, then"find" that letter all day.
Make counting games...count blocks, count crackers. I would NOT approach this with any vibe of urgency.
Relax, Mom...make it enjoyable.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Well, for starters he's not even 4 so I wouldn't sweat it. I would keep making a game of numbers, maybe have him trace numbers with pudding or paint if he's a tactile kid. But I think that he'll pick up on numbers, colors, etc. naturally as he matures if you just keep exposing him to them. There's such a push for little kids to know things and we forget sometimes what they need to know is that grass tickles your feet, ice is cold, mud is squishy and they are loved. They learn SO MUCH through just being and playing and the best things you can do is just explore the world with him and read to him.

ETA: Not all kids read before K. Mine was not. She learned most of her letters by the end of preschool and learned to read in K. K is more than a year away. I would not worry yet. And, really, reading in K is very simple books. It's not Shakespeare. He'll be OK.

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answers from Springfield on

my daughter will be 4 at the end of march. and i do not expect her to recognize numbers or letters till she is 5. with my son he started recognizing them on his own at 4.5 yrs old. he is in kindergarten now and can read. don't push it. let the child play. seeing, hearing, and experiencing numbers and letters is enough to learn them. and if he does not know them he will pick up on it when he is in pre-k.

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answers from Lakeland on

Relax, your son is very young and he will learn at his own pace. Stop forcing him to learn and let it happen naturally. Read to him, play games and maybe some educational TV (with limits). My daughter loved all the PBS shows and soaked up all the info they offer toddlers and children (Sesame Street, Curious George, etc.).

Unless something has changed in the past few years reading in NOT a requirement for kindergarten in Florida. And life is not a competition of who learns faster.

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answers from Chicago on

I used to worry about this with my daughter, now almost 8. Other kids were pointing out numbers and recognizing other things. She did go to preschool at the park district for 2 years before entering kinder at the local school. She did great with writing things but testing her to see if she knew it, just did not work out. My 4 yr old can count to 15 (might miss a number but usually all the way). He knows some letters but not the full alphabet. It is just one of those things that will come when he is ready. My son is very smart and can figure things out before I do but when it comes to those textbook things, it seems like he is behind. I would just keep working with him but not stress out about it right now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Let him watch Mickey Mouse Club House or Bubble Guppies or various shoes on Disney Jr. or Nick Jr. When you guys are spending time together, just have fun and stop worrying about it.

Most kindergartens begin the year with students at all different levels. Can't be easy to be a kindergarten teacher :-) Some kids walk in already able to read. Many do not know their ABC's or know just the upper case or just the lower case. Many cannot count to 20 or cannot count objects (1:1 correspondence).

It just isn't as simple as "kids reading in kindergarten." Some are, true, but many are not even close at the beginning of the school year.

I read my boys books quite a bit. We also sang songs. I swear, Mickey Mouse taught them their colors, shapes, numbers and letters. I suppose I read a few books here and there about those topics, but mostly it was tv. Hey, a mom needs a break now and then, and a little tv never hurt anyone :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I'm not saying he isn't capable, I'm saying that at age 3 he's going to learn more through play than through a more formal sort of teaching.

One day that lightbulb will go off and he'll suddenly have it.

Have you considered pre-K in the fall? That way he'll be learning along with his peers. They don't have to be reading in kindergarten. They do work on it and some kids get it. Most kids are reading to some extent by the middle of 1st grade. And I "mean" reading like this. "The.......ffffff....aaaasst, ffffffaaaaaassst, fast car wwwww...eeennnnnt, wwwweeeent, wweent, went ovvvvvveeeeerr the bbbbuuuuummmmp, bump..." Not reading right along and doing it even well.

"Reading" is subjective. Saying a kiddo can read because they recognize some sight words and can string them together compared to a 3rd grader who can read portions of Harry Potter is like night and day. Reading in Kindergarten isn't complete reading yet. They are still struggling.

So don't worry so. There are kids out there that have zero help until they start school. That's why the big push for Pre-K. To get those who haven't been taught anything and get them up to beginning kindergarten levels. So many kids go to child care and get pre-school and pre-K sorts of material presented daily for years are way ahead of kids who are at home and have busy parents. You are one that is really working and trying. Please let him play and learn. If he's not getting it like you think he should then just let it go. He's not behind. He's 3.

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answers from Santa Fe on

Every night read three or more books to him. Follow the words along with your fingers. There are many counting books you can get. There are also many alphabet books. With my kids we read every single night...starting at age 1. They both just picked it up. When they understand what numbers are you can try playing simple games like Hi Ho Cherrio (counting cherries off the tree), Shoots and Ladders (move the number you spin), etc. You can also sit with him when he is playing and just count out things (blocks, cars, balls) in groups. One car. Two cars. Three cars. See if he will do the same along with you. With repetition he will get it. The other thing I always do is point out letters and numbers when we are out and about. Just simple things. With letters I also would sound it out. It's fun. Don't worry...he will get it! I volunteer in my daughter's Kindergarten class and they start off learning the letters and the sounds of letters. My daughter's preschool did this also so she knew this for the most part. They sing a song about it. It's halfway through the year now. Most kids can spell their name but a couple cannot. Most kids cannot read yet but some can read a little bit. Not much though. Most kids know simple numbers. They work on 1-10. Point out numbers and letters daily just during your regular routine and read every night. It's amazing how much a child can soak up in a year!



answers from New York on

Does he attend preschool. If so, what do teachers say. If not, might be time to think about a program for him. Kids develop at different times. Is he on par with everything else? If you are concerned maybe have him evaluated thru your school district. Not sure at his age if it's free. Talk to your pediatrician.



answers from Chicago on

this is such a hard skill to learn and teach - no idea why honestly
try watching leap frog number videos, they don't work as good as the alphabet ones but they are good still
i have some puzzles that have the numbers at the bottom and you have to put the numbers in the right order to get the puzzle right
basically have numbers posted everywhere and talk about numbers you see, it will come, he has 8 months till school starts



answers from San Francisco on

Play, play, play and read, read, read!!! Every child learns at their own pace. My oldest, my son, took a while to talk, read, and write. His younger sister, started early and just keeps on going. They are 2.5 years apart but equally smart just in different ways.

Patience and love are the best ways to help your child.



answers from Miami on

I hope you will take my suggestion to heart. Take him to a speech/language pathologist. They aren't just for kids with articulation problems. They help kids with language issues and learning disabilities. Sometimes they can help identify what the problem is and find ways of figuring out how to mitigate the problems.

At the very least, the speech therapist can give you some great ideas of what to do to help.

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