Why 5Yr Old Can Remember Everything but What the Letters Are

Updated on March 06, 2019
C.H. asks from Baton Rouge, LA
12 answers

in school they give a phrase and a picture with each letter of ABC, she can remember the phrase, but cant remember the letter, how is that possible she can recall a whole sentence but not the letter

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answers from Washington DC on

because brains aren't computers.

and she's only 5.

and sometimes learning takes time.

read her dr. suess's ABCs and let her read it to you.

and be a little patient.


5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Springfield on

Possibly because a phrase or sentence is fun or meaningful or rhymes. Is it something like "snakes are silly" or "bears can be black or brown?" Kids remember words to songs because they sing them and they are fun and catchy. When I teach my Algebra students the Quadratic Formula (x is the opposite of b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4ac all over 2a), I show them youtube videos of students singing those words to the tune of the Adams Family theme or the Notre Dame Fight Song. It make it so much easier to remember. I tell them if they don't like the songs I showed them, they should go on youtube and find one they like.

But a letter is just a single letter. If she's an auditory learner, she's learning the sounds. That doesn't mean she would recognize those phrases or sentences if they were simply written out.

One of the things ABC books does is always make the letter larger or capitalized or in a different color. So instead of "bears can be black or brown" it would say "Bears can be Black or Brown." Well, the B's would probably be 3 times as big as the other letters and possibly in different colors, just to make them stand out. And "snakes are silly" would probably use a snake to form the S's.

Keep reading to her and looking through books and pictures together. When you go to a store or restaurant, show her the sign. The first thing my kids noticed about the Walmart sign was the star in the middle, but they were looking at the sign and I encouraged that. One of the first things they did when they really started learning their letters was notice all the signs when we were driving.

Relax and just keep using life situations to show her things. She'll get it!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

I homeschool. My son is an auditory learner. He has an incredible mind.

Example: My daughter is 4.5 years older than he. I would teach her and he would usually sit in the same room playing quietly with blocks or cars. We were studying birds. We went on a walk to see the types of birds (visiting Florida) and I began to review a little with my daughter. We were talking about the species that lays eggs in another bird’s nest for that bird to raise those babies. My daughter didn’t remember the name of the bird. My son said it (he was 3). I thought it was a fluke. I began to ask him questions and realized he knew all the types of birds we had studied, the books of the Bible (there are 66) and a lot of math basics by just listening to me teaching my daughter.

I encourage you NOT to worry. Know she will put it together when she’s ready. Reading aloud to her and having conversations while walking - look at that dog - do you know what dog starts with? Dog starts with D - Dog.

My son is a freshman in HS. He is still a heavy auditory learner. He retains information easily. Also, just so you know, it is much easier to memorize a whole sentence than an arbitrary word. When my kids were young elementary I wanted to encourage the ability to memorize well and everything pointed to memorizing full sentences.

One other quick thing I’ve learned. Make learning fun and interesting. Use all different mediums and avenues. It is way more important to have a love of learning which will encourage your child to be a lifelong learner. ❤️

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My grandchildren learned the alphabet first by singing the ABC song. You could try that. They liked finding letters while we read kid's books together. I remember looking for letters on signs when I was a kid.

Try wooden puzzles in which letters are wooden and shaped. My grandkids started playing with this puzzle when they were around 3. They said the letter as they put it in the puzzle or when they took it out. It's a fun game.

Kids learn differently and at different ages. When we vary the way we teach, say the alphabet, using touch,hearing, seeing we are helping a child learn in the way they learn best. By repeating the letters in different ways we are also exposing the student to the letters more often.

I suggest asking this question of your daughter's teacher.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

So like S is for Snake and there's a picture of a snake?

So she remembers the snake and the phrase but she can look at a picture of S and not know it's an S?

Some kids are visual learners and get that s and snake go together (hear it too).

but the letter on it's own may mean nothing to her.

I used picture books when they were little - so S with different things that began with S, and over time, (I mean this was all through preschool), by pointing to S and things that began with S, they got it. It was repetition and didn't just come quickly.

If she's just starting this in kindergarten, it takes time. It's ok - don't expect it to come overnight. Kids all sort of catch up during that first year at school. They all learn differently too.

I'd talk to her teacher and see if they have any tips you can use at home to help her learn. The one thing you want to avoid is having her become frustrated. Keeping it fun is key.

If you don't have any of those alphabet picture books, maybe get some. That's where we started and our kids would point to the letters and say them over and over.

My kids (this goes back a while) went to PBS kids Sesame street and they had tons of those alphabet games (S is for sesame street...) letter games that were safe and educational. We'd do one a day after school. It was fun and taught them letters in a fun way.

Good luck :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Maybe her brain just isn't ready yet.
Not everyone picks up the alphabet right away.
This is kindergarten, right?
While some kids start kinder already knowing how to read a little bit - many are just beginning to get to know letters, numbers, colors, etc.
For myself and our son reading really took off during the 2nd half of 2nd grade - it was like a light switch suddenly switched on - before that it was a struggle.
We went from barely being able to pick out letters to reading chapter books within a year.
We just had to wait till our brains were ready to take in that information.
It does not mean she is 'behind'.

What you do in the mean time (and even after she starts getting it) is you make reading together fun.
Read together often - more than just at bedtime.
Enjoy the story and a snuggle together every time you open a book.
Don't allow the school/homework to make reading a chore or something to be dreaded.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

She's 5. Kids learn things in a different order sometimes. You know how some kids walk "early" and some "late," while others talk "early" and others "late"? The same thing happens in the early grades. She's not yet learning with the specific method they are using. That doesn't mean anything is wrong. She's thinking more about the bigger concept (the sentence or phrase) and not the components (letters). Read Lori H.'s response - she has schooled her kids and they have turned out great, fully functioning.

If the teachers and the psychologist/learning specialist think there's some major disability, you can have your daughter tested. But, it's essential that you remain calm and patient - just read to her a lot and make sure it's fun. Go to the library and get her her very own library card, pick out books on topics she likes (ask the librarian to make suggestions so they are coming from a neutral person rather than you). Take her to story groups if they have them. Go to the children's museum or other attraction, and make a game out of finding an exhibit. For example, at the zoo, say you are looking for the monkeys, and that there has to be a sign somewhere that has an M on it. Ask for her help finding it (pick signs that are in view from where you are standing). And so on. Do the same in the supermarket or while looking for the gas station. Maybe she can identify the M or the B if you ask for it, rather than see the letter in school and be able to come up with the name. You can also label a few things around your house - Refrigerator and Stove and Bathtub and Closet just for fun. Again, make sure it's fun!

It really doesn't matter what order kids learn in. Remember that kindergarten is for social skills and a whole host of other things like fine motor skills and comprehension. If the teacher is focusing on just one thing (such as letter identification), then you need to have a talk with the school about their learning philosophy. Otherwise, try to relax and enjoy the many things she is mastering at just 5.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Try making some homemade tactile letters. Use rough sandpaper, and cut out a fairly large letter (maybe 5 or 6 inches tall, for example). If you don't feel confident cutting out good letters, buy a stencil at a craft store and use that to help you cut the sandpaper. Then have your child trace the sandpaper with her finger while she repeats the phrase. You can also cut letters out of felt, and twist them from pipe cleaners, or cut them out of cardboard and decorate them with pom poms and stickers and glitter, or she can just draw on them.

Some kids learn best by hearing something, some by seeing something, and some by feeling a texture or by doing. Your child may simply be the kind of learner who needs to do or touch.

You can also have her do a silly little action while looking at the letter and repeating the phrase for that letter. For example, you hold up the letter A and say "angry alligators" or whatever, and tell her to balance on one foot while she says "angry alligators" 3 times. Then do B and say "big brown bear" and tell her to repeat that while she extends her arms and then brings her hands together. Any simple little physical movement will do.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I use tucker signs for helping some of my students learn letters and their sounds. Pictures, and repeating repeating repeating. I draw it they draw it tracing letter hunts, and fluency practice pages. Twice a day I teach a small group of kids using a program we call sidepalz. (A combination of the sidewalks curriculum and pals fluency curriculum) I am with these 7 kids and all of them remember the letters differently. ( some remember the signs, some the pic, and others can just see the letter and know it) so keep working on it with her, Google the tucker signs for learning letters and see if it helps her remember.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

You are right to be concerned about this issue. Hopefully I don't scare you but this could be a sign of dyslexia. 1 in 5 people are dyslexic and most teachers don't know how to identify it much less teach it. Children with dyslexia can learn to read with the right instruction and go on to do amazing things. Their brains are wired differently but that difference makes them see things in ways others don't. Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Richard Branson, Leonardo Da Vinci, Walt Disney, and Steven Spielberg, to name a few are all dyslexic and proof it can set people apart in good ways.

My now 8 year old had trouble in kindergarten with letter names and sounds. He was put in a special reading group. In first grade he was still confused by some letters and sounds and couldn't commit sight words to memory. The school provided him with a reading tutor but it didn't really help. Come second grade (his current grade), seeing a reading specialist instead of a tutor and it still isn't doing much for his ability to read. He at a first grade reading level but his comprehension of things read to him is above grade level. After meeting with his classroom teacher and his reading specialist, we decided to have him tested for dyslexia. I am so glad we did. It turns out he is extremely smart on IQ but is in the bottom 2% for phonemic awareness (understanding letters and sounds). We now have him in private tutoring with a program that is proven to work for dyslexia (we are using Barton). The school has also written an IEP for him and he will be in special ed with the Wilson program (another proven to work dyslexia program) starting this week. He has only been with the Barton tutor for a month, but already is has better understanding the letters and sounds. Before he couldn't hear the differences between the short vowels sounds so he didn't say them right either. Now he knows them.

When I was looking in to the subject of dyslexia, I found this website to be very helpful. https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/s...

Feel free to private message me if you have questions about dyslexia, dyslexia testing, or working with schools. I have learned a lot since my son was diagnosed 3 months ago, and have some really great resources. These emails tend to go to my junk mail, but I try to look in the junk folder regularly. If I don't respond please just try again.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You should have her tested. If she has a learning disability, she will need specialized help. Early intervention is one of the most important gifts you can give your child. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for her academically and socially.

If she is just delayed, you have lost nothing by having her tested. But honestly, at this point, she should be starting to get this.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I would teach her every day in the morning, and in the evening. Keep practicing until she gets it!

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