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Learning letters and numbers...

(41 Posts)
Catbert Sat 09-Apr-05 10:31:10

Oh god - am I sucummbing to the competitive pressures of parenthood already and DD1 is only 2 and a half?

I have recently noticed a lot of her peers (from my ante natal class) know their letters and numbers... DD1 doesn't know any really. She doesn't really seem interested in learning them if I ever do have time to sit and try and "teach" them...

Two boys in particular are currently only children, and my DD2 has just turned 1. I have been quite busy with trying to manage two small children for the last year, but is this just a pathetic excuse for never making the time to sit and teach her important things like letters and numbers? I'm not very good at these things really.

I used to think I would be confident in not comparing etc, but now I am getting myself worked up about "playing and social interaction" being an important part of being a young child, vs whether she will go to school being the only child who cannot read by the time she gets there.

Just interested to know whether any children out there who are the same age, also not currently learning these things, whether some children just seem naturally pre-disposed to picking up things like this, whether those who do know their letters and numbers have had it repeated to them over and again until they know them, whether you think it's very important that I get cracking on this, so she is not at a disadvantage in the coming couple of years.

I will have to wait until next week until I can talk to the nursery about when they start expecting them to know these things...

Thanks for your patience in reading my blurb!

Jimjams Sat 09-Apr-05 10:34:21

Not sure that letters and numbers are important at 2!

SoupDragon Sat 09-Apr-05 10:47:09

Thing is, when they get to school they'll have to relearn the phonic sounds rather than the names anyway.

If you want to, get one each of those wooden "lift out" alphabet/number jigsaws and just keep saying the letter names as she plays with it. No one ever asks you at what age you learned your letters do they? It's completely meaningless.

Pinotmum Sat 09-Apr-05 10:47:50

My ds is 2.6 yo and doesn't know his letters or numbers. He will have a guess and sometimes get them right but it's a fluke. My dd is 4.6 yo and I remember her at the same age not really knowing her numbers either. When we would be in a lift we would talk about numbers but nothing structured. She was nearer 3.6 yo and at Nursery before she was reliable with either. I wouldn't worry at all if I were you

saadia Sat 09-Apr-05 10:58:59

I think your dd is still very young, so I really wouldn't worry about it, but I would try to incorporate counting and letters into everyday life eg if you see signs outside just point them out, and see how interested she is.

My ds, now 3 does know his alphabet and numbers, but this is because we had alphabet and counting toys and he himself was very interested in them and seemed keen to learn. If he hadn't been then I wouldn't have bothered, but I just got the sense that he was really open to learning them and was getting bored with other toys, so therefore needed more stimulation. I just thought that if he is ready at this age to learn these things then it might make things slightly easier later on. But, if he hadn't learned them then I wouldn't be at all worried.

I wouldn't put pressure on yourself at this stage. It's not a question of being competitive - of course you're bound to be concerned if you think you're ds is falling "behind" in any way - but just follow her lead I think. As far as I'm aware, formal learning doesn't start till much later, around the age of 5 or after. Either way I'm sure you're dd won't be at a disadvantage when she starts school.

Also, reading and counting are skills that nearly everyone learns - it doesn't really matter if it's at 3,4,or 5 or 6.

Catbert Sat 09-Apr-05 11:00:52

Well - you see Jampots, that's exactly how I feel... But then you start to notice these things don't you, and you start to think "perhaps I'm wrong?"

As parenting goes, you are only knowledgable in parenting up to the age your eldest is. It's good to hear about children who are older, so I can see into the future, and get a handle on the bigger picture.

I didn't start school until 5 and know I didn't start even learning these things until I started school, and I can read (I can even read quite long words!!).

DH suggested I post here, because it really does dip into a much wider range of experience than JUST the group I surround myself with in RL!

Jimjams Sat 09-Apr-05 11:29:46

Jimjams not jampots!

My eldest learned all his letters, numbers, mathematical symbols, complex shape names by 2 BUT at almost 6 he can't talk, can't indicate yes or no and (this is a HUGE one) can't play independently , actually can't play full stop!

ds2 (age 3) has started to show an interest in letters. I point them out, tell him names and sounds and point to whole words (important ones like his name). But what I LOVE (literally- sends me all warm hearted) is just steppimg back and watching him play independently, and imaginatively. He's sdtill at an age where he voices all his games out loud and it is wonderful to see. Being able to do that is a much greater skill than knowing letters.

cori Sat 09-Apr-05 11:38:03

I bought DS a Leap Pad 'Phonics Radio' Press a button for each letter, tells the name of the letter, sounds like and then sings a little song. DS has learned 3 has learned the alaphabet song with the aid of this.

cupcakes Sat 09-Apr-05 11:40:49

I really wouldn't worry. My dd is 2.2 and just starting to show awareness of numbers. My ds started reception last September, coming straight from playgroup (we bypassed the nursery route) and by Christmas he knew all his phonetic letters and sounds. He can now count to 100 almost perfectly and write his alphabet. This is a boy who couldn't write his own name or recognise any letters or numbers (other than his age!)8 months ago.
I have always felt that his pre-school years were a time for play and I never pressed anything on him (other than some counting) but once I saw how well he was doing at school I felt as if I'd been holding him back a bit as he really thrives on his lessons now. However I now feel that maybe he is this enthusiastic because I never pushed him with it.
And he is by no means behind in his class - he is in the middle group for reading (he is a June birthday and was part time till January).
With my dd she is actually likely to pick up more letters because she is with ds and myself when we practice his letters and reading but other than that I am happy to let her come along at her own pace.

Gobbledigook Sat 09-Apr-05 11:46:07

My ds2 is 2yr 5 months - he can count up to 20 and can recognise a few numbers but that's because of Thomas the Tank Engine - he knows Percy is '6' for example so he recognises that.

He doesn't recognise any letters and I wouldn't expect most 2.5 yr olds to know them tbh.

I don't do any 'structured' learning of these things with the kids other than counting things we see etc, just in every day conversation.

Try not to feel any pressure about it -they all learn soon enough and 2.5 is very young to be worrying about numbers and letters imo. From what I gather, school is stressful enough for them without trying to 'force' learning on them from this age.

It's time for them to be kids, enjoy, play - they learn what they need to from this, without us actively trying to teach.

Catbert Sat 09-Apr-05 12:14:28

Duh! Sorry Jimjams - clearly I cannot read. Back to school for me then...

Anyhoo - you are all right. And it makes me feel so much better knowing that... School is the place for structured learning, and so I will give myself I break I think on the parenting birch twig that is guilt.

I'm bloody useless at maths though - has anyone ever got worried about their ability to help with homework when the maths, or whatever subject, becomes more complicated than you can manage? Perhaps I really will need to go back to school, or perhaps I will let my children's education re-teach me things I never got the grasp of first time around.

Or maybe I will employ that age-old phrase "Go ask your father" !!!!

LIZS Sat 09-Apr-05 12:39:03

I do think some kids are predisposed to learning such things quickly. However ther eis little point in beign able to rote count without associating it with quantitites, same is true of individual letter names/sounds. There is also no automatic feed into being good at either maths or reading earlier unless it is developed progressively. My kids both did know such things at that age but ds in particular digressed onto other activities and interests for while so learnt little more of that over the next year or so, by which time many of his peers were similar.

I expect that there are things your dd is good at which they do not do so well and she will have learnt from having a baby sister and the need to share you and her things. By all means enjoy sharing books, chatting and take opportunities to point things out and elaborate on your dd's natural curiosity but you don't need to teach her as such.

roisin Sat 09-Apr-05 13:18:53

I definitely think some children are predisposed to learning such things. Ds1 was fascinated with letters and symbols way before 2, and we thought it was 'socially unacceptable' for him to learn them at that age! So instead we encouraged him to learn all the badges and logos of car manufacturers!!!

Other children are just not interested at this age, and if you push it you can really put them off.

jabberwocky Sat 09-Apr-05 13:38:59

I agree that some children just like learning them. I always said that I was opposed to pushing children to learn to read too early, etc. Just let them play and enjoy themselves. I still believe that wholeheartedly. However, ds really likes those magnetic letters and numbers that you can put on the fridge. He also loves the Dr. Seuss ABC book. So, without really meaning to, we wound up teaching him those anyway.

Gwenick Sat 09-Apr-05 14:10:56

ds1 is 4 1/2yrs old - starts school in September and has been at nursery since last September. Knows 'some' of his letters, and occasionaly gets a few numbers right. But doesn't really 'know' them. He can recognise 'key' words like his name, but other than that not a lot - he's only 'just' started to try and 'write' his name too.

Enthusia Sat 09-Apr-05 15:29:23

By the end of nursery the government's Early Learning Goals state that children should begin to recognise some letters linked to sounds and begin to grasp the concept of a word. Learning the alphabet and the idea that letters have sounds and names comes into Reception, in nursery children just learn letter sounds - usually the ones in their name and familiar words.
As for number, the early learning goal for the end of nursery is to count objects up to 3 or 4 and to recognise some numerals - such as their age. By the end of Reception they need to be able to count relibaly to 10 and recognise numerals to 10.
So your child Catbert is doing just fine!!! Obviously, counting, sounding activities that are fun are always good, but never push, especially at such an early age. I feel (as a teacher)the most important element to learning is curiosity about the world, not learning facts!

Wallace Sat 09-Apr-05 15:40:34

While on this subject... Anyone know why dd (3) can easily recognise letters, but doesn't seem to have a clue about numbers (apart from number 3!)

It doesn't concern me, I just think it is odd that she picks one up quickly, but not the other.

juniperdewdrop Sat 09-Apr-05 15:59:42

Gwen my ds2 is 4.5 too and sounds just like yours. He starts school in Sep too and I'm getting butterflies already

Gwenick Sat 09-Apr-05 17:21:27

juniper - I'm not getting butterflies at all - he's learnt lots of stuff at nursery and I'm sure once he starts school he'll pick it up soon enough

Catbert Sat 09-Apr-05 17:41:38

Wallace - not sure, but I think that numbers (and mathamatics), and letters (and speech) are dealt with in different parts of the brain, although you would imagine that this separation of "skills" probably starts with the learning of skills - perhaps not?

To me, it would make more sense that because they learn language as a matter of automatic development, and mathamatics (other than the complex maths all brains are capable of, i.e. learning to calculate the distance and tragectory of a thrown ball... pretty amazing of you work it out mathamatically) as a skill is more "learnt" - this is why numbers are perhaps slower than letters at this stage?

Or perhaps that just sounds like utter bunkham!

Jimjams Sat 09-Apr-05 17:45:26

recognising letters and numerals are dealt with in the same place- it's just shape recognition which is why autistic ds1 was so good at it. Langauge learning has been far from automatic for him! (hasn't happened yet).

Ds2 picked up numbers faster than letters- I suspect its just a case of each to their own.

Catbert Sat 09-Apr-05 19:22:43

Anyway - DH just pointed out I cannot spell...


Oops. Again. sigh...

Wallace Sat 09-Apr-05 19:32:19

Thats what i thought JImjams. Maybe she just finds letters more interesting. I think ds learnt his numbers first, but that was partly to do with Thomas the Tank Engine

Catbert, Ds is still quite number orientated, I wonder if dd will be more language?

bobbybob Sat 09-Apr-05 20:04:36

When you say learnt their numbers and letter - meaningfully or they can point and name or recite parrot fashion?

DS will point to 3 lightbulbs on the ceiling and say "two lightbulbs off, one lightbulb on". He will count his fingers to 5, or his legs to two. He knows how to bring 2 shoes to me. This is all counting. I haven't "taught" any of these things, he's picked them up from songs (one, two, three four five, once I caught a fish alive)and me nattering away "how many apples should we buy? Two? One, Two" Some of his peers can count to 20, but can't bring you two blocks if asked.

As far as letters go, his grandparents bought him the Phonics Radio, which he will not be parted from (takes it to bed). He also has a jigsaw with letters. I name them as he puts them in (using the phonic as well, picked up from that bloomin phonics radio). In the same way that if it was a transport puzzle I would say "car" truck" boat" etc.

What I'm trying to say is that I am talking about letters and numbers like any other object, and if he wants to learn a few thats fine.

Jimjams Sat 09-Apr-05 20:48:35

yes good point bobbybob. ds1 was quick with numbers and rote counting (shape recognition and memory) whereas ds2 understands quantity and counting.

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