Tips to teach 4yr old ABC's *PLEASE HELP*

Jenn - posted on 05/14/2011 ( 23 moms have responded )

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I Have a four year old son, Cody, who is going to be starting kindergarten in September. He is younger then most kids who will be in his class as he just turned four last November. I brought him in for an assessment a few weeks ago and the teacher told me that he did great in all areas except one: His ABC's. When it comes to the alphabet he basically has no clue. He cant name letter by looking at them and cant say his full ABC's. Now he is very intelligent and has excellent verbal skills and speaks very well, this is the only area that he needs to improve. I don't want him to struggle in kindergarten because of this so any tips or techniques to help teach your child the ABC's, letter recognition and the letter sounds that have worked for other parents would be greatly appreciated. Also any websites or other resources that can help me would be greatly appreciated. He has never attended preschool and while i have attempted to practice his ABC's he gets bored very quickly and couldn't care less. I have ABC flash cards, an alphabet book as well as fridge magnets and exercise books to practice writing them but none of the seem to hold his interest very long even when i try to make a game of it or make it fun. Any advice, tips, sites, resources, etc please. He starts school in September so that is four mths away, my goal is to teach him by then which i think is doable, i just need some ideas on different methods so i can see which one works best for my child. Thanks in advance!!

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[deleted account]

Think outside the realm of flashcards. You've gotten some good suggestions so far!

Does he like to run and jump and throw balls? (Probably a dumb question...lol). Start with the letters of his name (because those letters are relevant to him) and write them individually on construction paper. Lay the paper out and make a relay race of it...or toss a ball to the correct letter...or jump from letter to letter as you call them out. Tape the letters to the wall and turn the lights out. Let him find the different letters with a flashlight. After he masters "his" letters add more a few at a time.

My favorite website for learning activities is http://www.icanteachmychild.com/

Here is a website where the child can practically teach himself: http://www.starfall.com/

And the MOST important thing you can do for him in this area is READ to him. =)

Sarah - posted on 05/20/2011

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One or two things I would caution about. If teaching letters (abcs) make sure you are not teaching words which do not match the letter sound. For example the thing that annoys me most is the stupid song they sing on T.V. to teach letters. They use animal and sing A A armadillo. Now if you say the letter A you actually say eh but armadillo starts ah. Think about saying the baby version of the letter 'buh' instead of 'bee', cuh instead of see. o as in orange not oh as in ohio. I hope you understand what I am trying to describe. The other thing to watch is the font of writing. Comic sans is the best one to use (that I have found). The letters a and g are written the way he will be encouraged to write. The other suggestion i have is to use the letters around you. Names are especially good. My nephew (3) can recognise the beginning letter of his name, his best friends name, his brother and his cousins names. It makes it more relevant to him rather than ball or ink as you often see in posters and flash cards.

Good luck and please don't stress about it. Always make it fun. If he doesn't get it there's always time. I teach and have been teaching kids of 9/10 who still get b and d mixed up!!

Shallanna - posted on 05/17/2011

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Oh I have this thing I do for my 5 and my daycare kids. We form a line and march as if in a parade...we then scream out our ABC's so "the whole world can hear" or if only two we stand face to face and do teh same. For kids the chance to scream and not get in trouble is cool and it also helps us connect too- we laugh giggle, we spice it up with dancing and doing a conga line too. Try it- it works for me--and with other stuff too like when I teach our number I have this diddy "When I wanna call home I just pick up the phone and dial (your number)--then I make last line rhyme- like mine is 9805136 so it goes "when I wanna call home I just pick up the phone and 980-5136 thats the number that can't ever miss!!" They love it and it sticks. Also to wash hands I say "wash your hands when you pee so your hugs wont get it in ME!!" lol- I love that one...another is "use your manners everyday and be polite in everyway why...(then kind of shout) cause manners are contagious!!"

Lori - posted on 05/17/2011

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I went to the dollar store and bought inexpensive flash cards that had an object or animal that went with each letter and then worked with my son everyday, a few minutes at a time until he got it. We also play games that involve him finding objects that start with certain letters, it's great in the grocery store or in the car. As for learning the ABC song, we use it as an indication of time while brushing our teeth at night. 4 times straight through at a reasonable slow speed works pretty well.

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Tynekia - posted on 08/27/2013

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I am in the same exact situation now... my son is in one school and I was attempting to put him in another school and the teach told me he did not know his ABC's, his shape and numbers. I was speechless... I am shocked because we go over all these things... PLEASE HELP!!!

Susan - posted on 04/03/2013

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I had the same problem so I got really creative and created Alpha Cards: ABC flashcards especially for boys (girls like them too). They have just the right amount of gross mixed with a ton of funny. They made all the difference in helping my son in learning, recognizing and remembering his ABC's. You can check them out at he-is-all-boy.com

Jenn - posted on 05/18/2011

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Starfall.com is fantasic, my four year old loves it. Also, she has an ABC foam playmat where the letters can be removed and the tiles pulled apart to form into one giant mat or a long "road" as she calls it. Working with him over the summer will be great and you'll be amazed at the speed he'll learn in kindergarten. My daughters best friend is a boy and his mom was beginning to think he was dyslexic but now at the end of the year he is reading on level one!

Jenn - posted on 05/18/2011

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I keep hearing about the leap frog fridge toy. I actually think it is the one my nephew has. You put the letter magnets in it and it tells you what letters they are...I am thinking about buying one on Friday, how much are they approx? Not just for my son but it would also be good for my almost 2 yr old daughter to get a head start. Thanks again everyone for the tips. I checked out a few of the links mentioned and i must say that i am loving www.icanteachmychild.com, it has the cutest projects and ideas...

Some children just seem to pick up on their ABC's quicker than others, just like every other skill they have, each child learns at their own pace..I know mothers who swear that their two year old knows the entire alphabet then i know kids in grade three that are still struggling. I do agree however that keeping it fun is the most important thing..If you make it a struggle every time obviously they will begin resent it, and that is not the kind of relationship i want my child to have with learning. I am not really that worried about my son starting kindergarten, he did fine on his assessment and is a very bright child. Teachers are trained to teach, that is their job, so i feel pretty confident my son wont be the first child who has had troubl with the alphabet. In the meantime i will do what i can to help him and practice with him and continue to use these great tips. THANKS AGAIN!

Deborah - posted on 05/18/2011

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This is a rather interesting situation. I live in the Caribbean and my five y.o daughter will be graduating kinderagrten in July. Kids starts school at three y.o here and I made sure she had a head start on her colours and the alphabet by that age. I bought her the leap frog fridge alphabet toy when she was a yr old and would show her the letters could be placed in the toy from off the fridge and the toy would say what letter it is and the sound it makes. It also has the option to sing the alphabet as well, which she was thrilled to do. This was a very useful method for me and it also worked for my younger neice as well. The alphabet is all around you, and you can turn everything into a learning opportunity. Take breakfast for example, A for Apple/ Applesauce, B for Bacon, C for Cereal etc. Try to keep the sequence of the alphabet he'll learn it easily enough.

[deleted account]

My daughter turned 3 in March and she was recognizing and verbalizing almost every single letter as well as the sounds each letter makes (for some of the letters) around 2.5 because of this toy: http://www.amazon.com/LeapFrog-Fridge-Ph...
I think what helped is that she didn't feel pressured to learn the letters, if that makes sense? Since it sticks to a fridge, she was able to play with it as she pleased. Good luck.

Jenn - posted on 05/17/2011

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Shallanna I really love your tips, i am definitely gonna be giving those songs a try..Oh and now that i have your number i might give ya a call:p just kiddin!! Thanks for taking the time to post:)

[deleted account]

They Might Be Giants, "Here come the ABC's"... this cd/dvd combo worked wonders for my son... they also have "here come the 123's" and "here comes science"... I also am a big fan of using a puppet and making him either growl or high voice the ABC's... my son loves it

Sharon - posted on 05/16/2011

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i am in scotland and the advice i was given from all schoolteachers was don't teach abc let the teacher do this as you may teach them in a way they don't teach and the outcome could be confused child!

Tanya - posted on 05/16/2011

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When we taugh our daughter we used foam letters and just started with a few letters at a time. We did M for Mommy, D for Daddy, P for Poppa, N for Nana and H for Hannah. Once she had those then we started new letters, plus I always sang ABC to her aswell.

Jenn - posted on 05/15/2011

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I am in Canada...He will be turning 5 two months after starting school. In Canada if your birthday is after September you still start K if you are four as long as your child will be five during the school year... My sisters bday is in November as well and i recall she started K at four, she graduated high school at seventeen as well from starting early..I am not sure hp it goes in the states..According to his pre-kindergarten assessment he is ready for kindergarten, the only thing he has an issue with is the ABC's..I am confident i can teach him the ABC's before September i just want some tips on different techniques.



Thanks for the advice though i am going to give all these suggestions a shot:)

[deleted account]

Honestly, if he doesn't know and recognize at least most of his letters by September.... He'd probably be better in a year of preschool instead of K. Of course, since you mentioned he just turned 4 and you're talking about him starting K... I'm assuming you aren't in the US, so your school system may be different. The kids that come into K here NOT knowing their letters seem to be at a high disadvantage.

I know that's not what you were asking about though. My son has an alphabet chart. We sing the ABC's together while pointing at the letters. We play 'what starts w/ ___' ALL the time. He'll ask me 'what starts w/ B' for example and want me to list word after word after word. I've started making him try to come up w/ some now and give him hints. Also 'what does ____ start with' where he'll tell me a word and want to know what it starts w/.... I'll emphasize the beginning sound and see if he can come up w/ it himself before telling him. Point out words and letters in his every day enviornment... they are EVERYWHERE.


Good luck!

Jenn - posted on 05/15/2011

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Thanks for the tips so far...The reason i am concerned was because when i brought him in for the assessment the lady doing it told me point blank when it came to ABC's that "When it comes to the basics he really doesn't have a clue" were her exact words. Which kinda ticked me off I wont lie lol not because it isn't true cuz it is but because of her tone and how she said it.He is actually a VERY bright child but can be shy and had to do the assessment alone in an office with this strange lady so i felt it didn't accurately assess his strengths and weaknesses. But it is true he does not know the ABC's at all, He can sing it a little bit but doesn't actually know any to name the by looking at them. Then she suggested a two week program to help with it but said i may not be able to get him in since it had already started, and it turned out i couldn't get him in because it was pretty much over. So i now feel like i have to teach him them by then because she made it sound like a big deal...However i did get the results of the assessment which is broken into four sections and they give each section a colored square as a score (Green=Needs a lot of help, Yellow= Having some difficulty, Green=Appropriate Development) He scored green on three of them (Cognitive Skills, Language Development and Gross/ Fine motor skills were all green) and then got yellow on Awareness of self and Environment)...which kinda shocked me because i feel he is very good at his ability to think and talk about himself and environment and talk about experiences...I think part of it may be him being shy and a little scared being alone with a stranger in a strange room but meh)...But it made me feel a bit better because from the way she was talking i was expecting him to fail horribly or something lol. Sorry for the full detail lol but that is why i am concerned because i was made to feel like it was an issue...I thought the point of Kindergarten was for kids to learn their ABC's and stuff! But thanks for the suggestions so far and keep them coming...If anyone knows any website that give advice on this please pass them on it will be greatly appreciated:) Thanks again:)

[deleted account]

Books!! Get some books, take him to the library. Introduce him to the wonderful world of books by reading with him and to him. This will make him WANT to learn. Flash cards etc are a bit artificial and often don't hold a child's interst for long because they're not relevant to anything.

Teresa - posted on 05/15/2011

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what i did so that they would know how to say the alphabet was i sang to them. Anytime just out of the blue, several times a day. Most kids love to sing with mom and the alphabet is just another song!! Worked great. To recognize the letters i posted letters on their wall just like the school does and i would point to the letters as we sang. I also would play a game with my kids...'who could find the letter T" for example and then have a great big praise when they got it right. I home made the bubble letters, the kids colored them and it was that easy. No cost no fuss and we all had fun family time while learning. Don't worry too much, most teachers don't expect them to know the entire alphabet in the beginning of kindergarden. They will learn it then and review for the ones who do know. :) have fun :)

Tonya - posted on 05/15/2011

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All it takes is a little time & patience. No need for downloads & the like. What I did with BOTH of my children was I bought some sidewalk chalk, went outside & I drew the alphabet with my chilren. I made it colorful and creative. As i drew each letter I would say the name of the letter, & I drew pictures that started with that letter. For example...for A I drew an apple, B was a ball, C was a cloud & so on. don't try to get to detailed in the pictures, simplicity works best. Also start only with upper case letters. Lower case causes confusion because they don't all look alike. & after you have drawn the whole alpabet, go back to the beginning & sing the ABC song touching each letter as you sing it. My children found this part to be the most fun & both learned their alphabet before they started school. I hope this helps.

Melissa - posted on 05/15/2011

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What is he into? Does he like playdough? If so, have him make some letters out of playdough. If he likes cars, make the letters on paper for him to drive over. If you don't mind messes, put some flour on a cookie sheet and have him write the letters in the flour. Try and make it something that he is interested in, but don't overkill.

Missy - posted on 05/15/2011

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as well as good old fashioned methods i also downloaded a lot of pre school games and because of the fun aspect of the computer they are more interested in sticking around lol also i dont think they would expect him to know the alphabet i think you wud be suprised at how many dnt! he sound like a clever enuff lad if he doesnt get it by then im sure the encorgment of having other children around to copy will help loads! x

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