Delay in learning alphabet letter
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My son who will be five in October loves learning, especially anything
related to science. He also loves books. We had his IQ tested and he came
out in the 99th percentile on verbal skills. He's a sponge when it comes to
absorbing new info that he's interested in. However, for some reason, he
doesn't want to learn his ABCs. I'm a pretty easy going Mom. I've probably
tried to sit down to teach him a total of 10 times. The other times I've
just pointed out a letter here and there.
Early on he seemed frustrated that he made mistakes on the
letters (yes, the perfectionism that follows a lot of
our children) or that it didn't come easily. Then he stated he wanted
nothing to do with the alphabet. So I let it go. Lately, he says he wants to
learn so I'm gradually pointing out letters to him again. He knows some of
them but not all. My daughter who is 2.5 is catching up to him on the
letter recognition and I'm not "trying" to teach her. He seems to be a
visual learner. He learned his colors later than others also, but then he
learned them all at once with hardly any mistakes so maybe that's the way he learns.
Is it a personality thing? The way he learns? Should I be sitting
down to teach him or letting it go until he starts K in the Fall. Should I be
getting his eyes or hearing checked? Thanks.
We are all very anxious to have our kids learn their alphabets before they
get to Grade 1. Therefore, if a child is learning everything at a relatively
fast pace but not the alphabets, it's very normal to have some concerns.
Firstly, eliminate any health factor that may be the cause. Yes, do get his
eyes and hearing checked though, from your description I don't think the problem
lies here. You have been a very good mum by not pushing and forcing him to do
anything that he may not enjoy. At this age, kids get frustrated if they feel
something is expected of them and they are not able to
fulfill those expectations. Perhaps, he may notice some disappointment in your
expression when he's not able to say it correctly and decides to give up. Go
slow on him. Keep pointing out letters in a way that doesn't look like you
are teaching him.
I also feel that he may not be very motivated to learn the alphabets. Have
you tried different methods of teaching? You may want to surf the
Internet for various fun activities to help kids learn the alphabets. Make
the alphabets meaningful to him. E.g., make up a story where the alphabets
form the characters. You need to teach him indirectly. Does he go to a pre-school?
If he does, you may want to speak with his teachers on what can be done to
help him learn his alphabets.
Research has shown that children learn the alphabet in a certain order. A
child will learn the curved letters first, then the curved letters with a
straight line, and finally the letters with only straight lines. This is the
order: S, J, C F, L, V, T, W, K, P, G, A, B, E, D, H, M, Z, N, R, O, I, Q, U, Y, X.
You may want to try this.
As you mentioned that he absorbs information very easily, I'm sure all that
is needed in this case is to make the learning meaningful to him. When children
are engaged in something meaningful, they are motivated to remember by association,
which is important in recognizing alphabets.
Children have different learning rates. Your child may need lots of direct
instruction to learn the alphabet. Let him learn at his own pace. As he has learnt
everything else steadily, he will learn the alphabets when he is ready.