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4 year old cannot recognise letters/numbers

(46 Posts)
MummyGeorge Tue 03-Mar-09 08:03:30

Hi all,

I've got a son who has just turned 4. I have tried a lot to encourage letter and number recognition for him with Jolly Phonics and sticking post-its of letters in his rooms, getting small nice books etc. But somehow, he still is not able to get a hang of it. He recognizes a few letters (phonics) but that's just about 5-6. He will be starting school in September, and I'm a bit worried about him, and want him to be able to at least do this, so that it will not be a rough ride for him in school. Any advise would be really appreciated.

Thanks !

Furball Tue 03-Mar-09 08:05:29

I wouldn't worry TBH. wait until this time next year, when he is at school and has started to learn them with the rest of the class. It might be useful for him to recognise his name but thats about it.

DottyDot Tue 03-Mar-09 08:10:46

hi there - it's easy for me to say, but I'd try not to worry. He's still very young at just turned 4 and reception teachers are very used to and experienced in having children of all abilities starting school.

from experience, ds1 was where your ds is - couldn't read at all when he started school, or write. he knew his numbers pretty well but very few letters. He's now in year 2, has just turned 7 and is doing really well - above average for reading! it just took him a bit longer to get the hang of it.

Don't push your ds if you can help it - he'll get there and all of a sudden (with ds1 it was towards the end of year 1) he'll be reading.

MaggieW Tue 03-Mar-09 08:20:24

As the others have said, don't worry, as he's so young. I had similar concerns about my DS when he started school but he's now in Y2 and can't get enough of reading, which is fantstic. His reading really took off towards the end of year 1 and he was still confusing bs and ds etc in the early stages of y1, but no problems now.

If he's not showing much interest then don't worry or don't push it, as you don't want to put him off. Just enjoy reading stories to him, which I am sure he loves and will really help him.

Kids will start school at all different stages - some will be able to read already, others won't be anywhere near it, but it's important to not compare and just relax about the whole thing.

bodiddly Tue 03-Mar-09 08:46:25

MG my ds has also just turned 4 and sounds exactly the same as yours. He is at nursery full time where they don't really teach them anything (unlike some pre-school nurseries) and he doesnt have a clue or show any interest. That said his pen control is pretty good as he loves to draw which I encourage. The only thing we have started doing with him is when we are in the car ... saying I'm going to think of a word starting with b or d and see how many words he can think of. It is a bit hit and miss as to whether he gets them right but he enjoys it. I hope it helps him in some way as he just doesnt seem interested in learning the letters and numbers at all!

GooseyLoosey Tue 03-Mar-09 08:54:42

Don't stress - ds (now 5 and in year 1) could niether read nor write when he started school and did not recognise all of the letters. 18 months on, he is now free reading and reads well above his age group.

Dd is now in reception (youngest in year) and similarly was not good on letters, sounds and numbers. She seems to be on a par with her peers and has picked things up quickly.

Seems to be that the school had little expectation that they could do much more than write their names when they started.

MummyGeorge Tue 03-Mar-09 09:24:43

Thanks for the messages. My son goes to a Preschool where they do teach.. and they have progressed quite a bit too.. and still he has not picked them up. That is why its a little worrying. But as y'all have said, I'll wait for 1 more year to see how things go.. hopefully he will develop his interest by then.

Dingbatgirl Tue 03-Mar-09 09:48:58

Hi MummyGeorge, I was also worried about my ds at age 4, he is a summer birthday and started reception at 4 years 1 month. He didn't respond to Jolly Phonics, but enjoyed books, so I just read and read to him. In Year 1, all of a sudden, he started reading really well, and now in Year 2, he is a great little reader. I am convinced he learned to read by 'Look and Say,' we just kept pointing to the words, and he learned them by sight. He didn't get the hang of phonics properly until after he had done this.

I think, like everybody else, don't worry, but having said that, I also worried about reading when my ds was 4, so I appreciate how you have been feeling. Just look at books with him on whatever he is interested in, no pressure, encourage him to enjoy them and have fun.

Dingbatgirl Tue 03-Mar-09 09:50:34

And also, Jolly Phonics have a set called Finger Phonics, where the child can trace the letter while saying the sound. This may help.

Shitemum Tue 03-Mar-09 09:52:14

Just read to him lots and let him see you reading, point out signs to him in the street, especially the first letter of his name, make it a game seeing if he can find that letter.

thisisyesterday Tue 03-Mar-09 09:57:02

hi mummygeorge, I have a just turned 4 yr old too and he recognises most numbers but the only letter he knows is L.

don't worry. he won't be behind at school and he won't struggle. that's why they go there... to be taught!

if he isn't able to get the hang of it that's because he isn't ready, and there's really no need to worry.

MummyGeorge Tue 03-Mar-09 13:30:54

Thanks all .. this is such a great support..

To be fair to him, I've not spent as much time as I should. Any time I get is spent with my older son, who is struggling with his reading..

I too play the game as bodiddly does, with guessing words starting with the phonics "a" etc. He joins well for that, tho he says p for purple, b for burple, c for curple etc.. that freaks me etc. grin It is the recognition bit that is the problem. But like everybody says, I'll just hope for the best

bodiddly Tue 03-Mar-09 15:28:33

that sounds familiar mg ... my little one does that the whole time.

Jux Tue 03-Mar-09 15:56:02

You've got months and months. He will change hugely in that time. He may know the entire alphabet upside down and backwards as well the true meaning of infinity by then, or he may not.

If not, it won't be for long.

DottyDot Tue 03-Mar-09 19:51:33

MummyGeorge - ds1 was just that - our precious first born and we spent eons of time with him doing letters, words, sounds, etc. Didn't make a blind bit of difference! grin

Ds2 has been typically neglected and of course is a reading superstar hmm

You can never tell or (I think) influence too much when it's going to click for them.

One thing that seemed to help ds1 though, once he started reading (year 1/beginning of year 2) was dp and I reading every other sentence for him - it helped create a flow for him and meant stories started to make more sense, encouraging him to read more - even though we were doing half of it! We're still doing this - reading every other page - so that he finishes things slightly quicker and doesn't lose heart.

seeker Wed 04-Mar-09 16:21:21

That's what school's for!

Just read him tons and tons of stories - don't bother about anything else!

OrmIrian Wed 04-Mar-09 16:38:59

That was my DS#2 last year. He could hardly recognise any letters. Now he's doing fine. It will come.

Littlefish Fri 06-Mar-09 22:17:36

Read stories together
Sing songs
Play "I spy"
Read stories together
Count cars
Count buttons
Count apples in the supermarket
Read stories together
Sing more songs
Say rhymes
Read stories together
Tell jokes
Tell stories
Have conversations
Play role-play games
Read stories together

Don't worry about recognising numbers or letters. What's important is that he can enjoys books and is starting to hear sounds in words.


katiestar Sat 07-Mar-09 13:50:16

Children have to be ready.Some are ready before others ,not because they are going to be more intelligent,just because that's the way they are.But you do run the risk of putting him off and sowing the seeds of self doubt in his mind.

sarararararah Sat 07-Mar-09 20:45:59

PLEASE stop trying to encourage letter / number recognition. He has just turned four, he has loads, and loads, and loads, and loads of time!

Do all the things littlefish suggests instead or you will put him off. The most important things you can do to help him with all this is to talk to him, play with him, read to him, sing to him etc. To be ready for school he needs to be independent so spend time working on these skills instead!

He will be FINE! Promise!

dilemma456 Sat 07-Mar-09 20:57:38

Message withdrawn

MummyGeorge Mon 09-Mar-09 08:17:56

Thanks all, for the lovely suggestions... dilemma456, the site looks great. I think he will love it.. I'm definitely more positive and will take this slow. Thanks once again !

sarah293 Mon 09-Mar-09 08:39:10

Message withdrawn

NK4c0d6f07X12038c8e15e Tue 24-Mar-09 14:27:33


My daughter turned 5 in January and started school full time in September. She knows her letters/sounds but I have just had her first school report and she is "not on target" for her reading and also maths. The system that the school have in place is that the children get a certificate everytime they know each group of HFW and she hasn't even got the first one (bronze) yet (although she does know quite a few of them). I know that some children have already got their 3rd certificate and this worried me as July is looming it is not too long before she will be in year one. However, obviously she is not being pushed too much as this will put her off reading and she may not enjoy books..she is quite happy at the moment to sit down and just read them in her own way. I would appreciate any thoughts on this. Thank you.

TotalChaos Tue 24-Mar-09 14:30:48

thoughts - arrange a meeting with the teacher to discuss a)whether it's concerning she's not on target b)what do school propose to do to help her c)what (if anything) do they recommend you to do with her at home to help her with weak areas?

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