Turning 3 - Doesn't Know Abc's?

Updated on September 06, 2013
... asks from Rancho Cucamonga, CA
21 answers

Good morning ladies,

My DD is turning 3 on Friday. She is really smart in a lot of areas, she surprises me with her vocabulary all the time. But when it comes to things like counting to 10 or ABC's she just doesn't seem to pick it up. I have been working with her for a long time now. We do ABC flashcards and abcmouse everyday. We count jelly beans and m&m's. And every chance I get I say go get your pink shoes or lets wear the red shirt today.

But if you ask her to count to 10 she goes: 1,2,3,4,8,10,12,5,7,8 TaDa!! lol
Same thing if you ask her what color something is she always says BLUE
And when it comes to the ABC's it just doesn't seem like i'm ever going to get anywhere

My son by this age could do all of these things, and i know its terrible to compare them so that's why i'm asking. Should she be picking these things up by now? Is there a better way to teach her these things?

Thanks in advance.

I just want to add that I try to make it as fun as possible for her, we aren't sitting here yelling because she can't tell me that A is A :)

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answers from San Francisco on

My daughter will be 3 next month. She can sing the ABC's and can recite the numbers to 10. But, she can't actually count 10 objects, which is a different skill. She's getting closer, but still skips numbers, double counts, etc. She can recognize the letter "S" (the first letter in her name) but does not know the other 25. : )

Kids learn at different rates and I don't think you need to worry. Flashcards really are not the way to go with such a young child. She needs to learn through play. Make games instead. Play memory style games with the letters - same idea as a flashcard but a lot more fun. Pick a letter every time you read a book and have her find it at least once on every page. Get an alphabet fishing game. There are so many fun, interactive ways to learn at this age. flashcards are not good.

Don't worry. She'll know it soon enough. At least, I hope so, because that's what I'm counting on for my own little girl. :D



answers from Rochester on

Don't do flash cards (as a reading specialist I don't think they are that effective in the long run). Sing the ABC song over and over and over. Read ABC books. Point out letters when you see them on signs. As long as she knows most of them by kindergarten she's just fine.

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answers from Anchorage on

I don't know why we push our babies to learn all these things they will easily pick up when they are slightly older and in school.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

This is going to sound totally glib, but this is coming from both a preschool teacher and a mom whose been there:

She's three. Don't sweat it. My guess is that your girl is advanced in other areas that your son wasn't when he was that age. When my son was three, he could tell you how a fountain pump worked but he didn't give a flying fig about letters or numbers. Even when he was four, same deal. We just talked about the letters in his name and when he just turned five, had him 'work' on writing some of those letters when he 'signed' thank you cards.

He went into K knowing just a handful of letters and numbers, could sing the alphabet and count to twenty verbally. He did great! Left K reading at grade level, proficient at recognizing letters (still needs a guide when writing, this is common) and ready for first grade.

Please, do not sweat this. There are develomental stages of learning and for her, she hasn't found letters and numbers *relevant* to her world yet. I'll bet she does fine in a couple years!

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I know kids are expected to have all sorts of academic accomplishments nowadays before starting KG. Believe it or not, I did not know the alphabet, I did not know how to write my name, I did not even recognize my written name when I started KG. Now I would not recommend such a blank slate is the way to go, but I maxed out the verbal score on my SAT test in high school.

I bet your lovely daughter is very advanced in other areas. Give her time and plenty of love and attention.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Normal. Just read to her. Play with her. Sing to her. Take walks and count things you see. She is not your son. Do your best to stop comparing. She probably does things the he couldn't do at this age.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

You do know that some kids who enter kindergarten don't know as much as your 2 year old right?

Kids that start the 3 year old program at Head Start often don't even know their colors or numbers at all. They go to Head Start for the 3 year old program to learn them.

I suggest that your expectations of your child are high. They'll learn them when they get old enough and are cognitively ready for that stage.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Normal. It may even be a full year or year and a half before she is putting these things together in her head.

Your daughter is her own person,.

These are things that just by playing she will learn. Put the flash cards away, they do not mean anything to her at this point..

Just PLAY with her.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

There is a wide range of normal and both of your kids seem to fall within that range.
Don't "work" with her so much, as long as she is exposed to letters and numbers through songs, games, books, TV and just everyday life she will pick it up naturally.
Go to the library and check out a few books on child development. Not parenting or discipline books, but development. That will give you a greater understanding of how children grow and learn, and you won't be so concerned by non issues like this.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

nothing to worry about! At her age there are other important skills like playing with other kids, playing and climbing at a playground, feeding ducks in a pond, petting zoos, a walk on the beach, a ride on a bus, or a train, etc etc basic life experiences is my point! Don't worry at all about this.... take a nature walk with her. fingerpaint. plant a flower. chill!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Some perfectly "normal" kids can barely talk at almost 3. She probably should know her colors but don't worry about ABC and counting. Make learning natural and forget flashcards.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would not worry about it at all! Different kids learn different things at different times. My guess is your daughter doesn't yet CARE about her ABCs or her colors. No big deal! She will pick it up later on.

My daughter was in first grade and she still had trouble counting. Obviously she could count to 10 and up, but for some reason she hadn't grasped the pattern of counting so she couldn't get up into her 20s without getting confused. I thought for sure there was something wrong with her!

Then one day, it just clicked. Who knows why? It just did.

Now she's 12 and doing high school math. So there you go :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My son will be 3 at the end of October and he hasn't really "gotten" these things yet either.

He can count to 3, but after that it is just random numbers.
He can usually pick out the colors if you ask him 'Where's the 'pink' marker?', but if you ask him what color something is it is always blue or red.
He knows the tune of the ABC song but it is always... 'A B C I G H K M N O P Q S T U V W X Y Z'

He loves playing on my ipad and learns a lot of stuff on there. He has an app where he can practice writing his letters and his numbers (It's his favorite). And other apps where he can practice sorting his colors and shapes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Believe it or not - I didn't know my ABC's when I started kindergarten.
Some kids are able to pick it up earlier than others (like your son) but not knowing this stuff at 3 (2 really, her birthday is coming up soon) does not mean in any way that she is behind.

Fun as possible is good.
Read read read to her (I had almost every Dr Seuss book memorized but reading them was all fun and snuggles - our son had no idea he was learning while we were doing it).
If you are feeling frustrated - then just stop with the flashcards (and abcmouse, etc) for awhile and play with something else.
She'll learn when she's ready.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

She is still so young - you don't need to even worry about this yet! Sometime before she turns 4, she will get it, I'm sure. Just remember, at this very young age they change and learn a LOT every 6 months. 3 is very different from 3.5. 3.5 is very different from 4. She will be fine for kindergarten which is still a long way away! Just read to her each night. Point out words and letters. Practice counting, doing counting songs, and the alphabet song. Just make it fun. No need to formally teach or do flash cards.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

As a kindergarten teacher, i say it would be great if she knew those things in the fall of Kindergarten. Not necessary but really nice. Why does she need to learn it now just cuz her brother did?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

I think most kids know the alphabet by the time they are 4 or so (and I mean actually recognize the letters and some letter sounds, not just sing the alphabet song) so she has some time.

Teach one letter/number/color at a time. Spend a week on A. Show her things that start with A. Have her find the letter A in books.

My 3 year old has a "learning box." I pick one thing, fill the box with related items and then switch to something else once she has learned it. For example, I will fill it with circles one week, dinosaurs the next week, random purple items another week.

She might be a bit young for it, but you can use starfall to help teach the alphabet. My daughter also loves the leapfrog shows which teach numbers, letters, phonics, etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I have faced the same problem, my son at 2.5 was way more advanced with his language and understanding than my twin girls at the same age. I had them evaluated and was told that since their development in other areas, motor (gross and fine) and understanding of the multiple languages that are spoken at home was fine, I should not worry too much.
I was only told to keep an eye on their developmental progress to see if they were progressing. For one of my twins, every color is purple and for the other every color is orange. They eat purple and orange banana's and also wear purple and orange diapers. It is all in their head and sometimes, I feel it is their way of showing control.


answers from Grand Forks on

She will be taught the alphabet in kindergarten, earlier if she goes to pre-school. My boys learned in pre-school when they were three and I considered them to be two years ahead.



answers from New York on

Mine does and has for a while. He caught us by surprise when he pointed to letters on a package of Dates sitting on the table when he was 2.5 and correctly identified each of them. He can also count to 100, and understands that numbers are used for counting and can correctly count out 4 pens, or 12 apples. He has been recognizing colors since about 2 y.o., and could correctly name them at about 2.5 too.

His buddy, who is only 2 weeks younger can't do any of these things as yet.

They all grow in their own way, and in their own time. If your kid strikes you as otehrwise clever, I wouldn't worry about it in the least.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.



answers from San Francisco on

She's three. She's normal. Your son was probably more advanced.

What AK mom said.

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