kids learning ABC's

Our daughter is just learning the ABC's in our typical nonchalant mom fashion we are totally late and maybe we just thought she would learn it by herself in Kindergarten, but we already knew that because it didn't work for our son either (he's in third grade and doing fine now so it didn't stunt his growth). I think what I am doing is reaching out to you! Honestly I was sure that she loved school and already knew the ABC's but when your kids have been in Montessori pre-school they have learned lower case and sounds (it was all supposed to come together this year but we sent her into kindergarten!), in public kindergarten they teach uppercase first! whoops! poor thing, she has no idea what they are and has never seen them...

So here we are half way through the year, pulled aside by her teacher and when she told me she didn't know how to write the ABC's yet I was surprised! I guess this is a bit of a forewarning for those of you with kids about to go into K, so start now! We are playing catch up and I feel so bad for her. We were naive parents and well honestly it probably has to do with laziness on our part and I also feel that they are in for so much school I didn't want to force learning on them at home too. I still don't think this is wrong (and I know it's okay because my son LOVES to read and write now, so no problem there...).

We are using flash cards and I am all about repetition, she comes home from school and writes the alphabet, before she goes to bed "Let's do it again!"... We looked at signs and letters all over NYC last weekend (NYC kids MUST know the alphabet immediately because letters are everywhere!), so it's going.. but if you have any tips... just tell us here!

thank you!


Anonymous said...

I always think it is fun to have children create their letters out of playdough or have them write them in shaving cream. Not only are these great fine motor activities, but they are something a little different and thus fun!

Melissa said...

Hello! Not sure these will help, but our LeapFrog fridge phonics magnet set has helped our daughter begin to recognize her letters. I figured she would think it was a fun toy but she is now saying letters when she sees them elsewhere. It says the letters and the sounds they make. It's also sing-songy, which they seem to like:


I also LOVE these from etsy, have yet to buy them, but couldn't resist sharing:

Good luck!

SmartBear said...

I was going to say the same thing as the first commenter. Shaving cream is really a good tool. Anything to get her using her kinesthetic sense rather than just relying on the visual will help. You can also use colored sand or finger paint. Some kids are better auditory learners too, so sounds are easier than visuals.
You probably know this well already but I am sure she will be fine. These days kindergarten is more like 1st grade. It can be a little rough...

Carmen Eva said...

maybe you could try with KUMON....but she will do it herself in her own time....good look in the K!

Erika said...

Oh dear, I have a lot to say about this subject! While a child naturally picks up language from the family, the act of reading and writing is a different proposition altogether. My children are in their first year of kindergarten at a wonderful Waldorf school and biodynamic farm, and they will not learn their alphabet until they are 6-7 years old (although, they seem to be picking up pieces here and there, nonetheless). Until children are "fully into their body"--something that happens with plenty of gross motor play and rhythmic activities such as swinging and singing, learning to read and write an alphabet can be a challenge for some children. So, in short, try to make the experience of learning a multi-sensory, multi-dimensional one so that Frannie learns her letters with her whole body. It is quite fun! She can slide and slither like a snake, do "s" poems and drawings, etc. Here's a link that is a long, but thoughtful piece about the learning process in a Waldorf school...it's really worth reading and thinking about for everyone. And, if she is truly struggling, it's not a bad idea to get her evaluated to see if there is another challenge present. Dyslexia runs rampant in my family, which is why we have tried to be thoughtful about the schooling of our children. Feel free to send me an email if you would like more information, and have fun with teaching her...don't feel bad, either. Public schools are teaching this stuff much too early in our country. Think of Finland where the children start school at 7, and are leading the pack!

Erika said...

And here's the link :-)

jill s said...

best investment EVER.


and then this one too...


you won't regret it. :)

Anne said...

I bought my daughter "My First Book Of Uppercase Letters" from Kumon Workbooks. It is a great way to memorize the letters as you learn the shape and the writing at the same time.
I came to know the Kumon method while living in Japan. It is really interesting!
My daughter loves every Kumon Workbook I got her.
I hope it will help your daughter as well.

nonchalant mom said...

thank you so much for all of the suggestions... even though it was a snowstorm I ran out to purchase some shaving cream! I love that idea and I love them all... we also made some of our own flashcards (boy do kids love to look at themselves) we will post them soon! thank you again for all of the wonderful suggestions, I promise you we are working with all of them! and Erika, thank you for your comment so thoughtful!

Lesley said...

I was surprised last year when my daughter started kindergarten. The children were almost expected to know how the alphabet before school started. I remember learning the alphabet on letter at a time during kindergarten. We didn't work on the alphabet during preschool either. Our daughter was going to a japanese preschool and was learning japanese characters. She was really behind when she started school but within the year she caught up. We read together a lot (even before she knew the alphabet). Her classroom has books divided by levels. She started reading books with one word and a picture of the word, then books that repeated the same phrase, changing only one word on each page (For example: "Tom likes apples." "Tom likes bananas." I believe these were scholastic books and were simpler than Dick and Jane books (which are also great). I wish schools would spend more time on the alphabet, it was a very frustrating way for her to start school.

raina said...

We sent our daughter to a Waldorf school for the first 3 years where they didn't push reading, plus we later discovered she had some learning issues involving reading. We switched her in 3rd grade to our public school where after a bit of extra help and repetition she not only caught up but surpassed her grade in reading. She is now in middle school and never has less then 3 books with her at all times. My point is that with patience and time they get it and there isn't a reason to beat yourself up about being laid back. Often that's better then pushing them to fast.

Jen said...

Great discussion. I'm sure you have talked about it before but I would love your thoughts on Montessori vs.
public school. My son is 3.5 and in a Montessori school.
We just had parent teacher conference and I was told that my son spaces out and does not take responsibility in the class.
(doing things such as picking his own lesson to do)
We are wondering if maybe montessori is not right for him or really it is just too soon to tell. He has no problems in other areas such as socializing, playground, etc.
Any thoughts?
Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Been there, like most of us!!! I created sandpaper flashcards in which I cut out the upper case letters and pasted them to stock paper. My daughter says the sound of the letter as she traces the letter with her finger. She then "draws" (the same letter she felt on the sandpaper) in a container (tupperware w/ lids is best) filled w/ sand or rice.

I like the shaving cream idea but the sand (or rice)is reusable.

emmi said...

I love the idea with sand, all kids love the feel of sand on their finders. I can also recommend the "They Might Be Giants" video podcast for the alphabet. They are beautifully done, highly imaginative, and have catchy songs to boot. I find myself singing "go go go go for G" to my son as we go through the alphabet tower blocks we got him for Christmas from Melissa and Doug (also very nice!)
Best of luck and have fun.

Erin @ Letter Soup said...

I totally agree with the multi-sensory learning suggestions. Also, I'd try to focus on learning letters through games to make the activities as fun as possible, so they don't feel like drill.
Here are a few more ideas:

Littlemissairgap said...

I'm from Australia (plus an early childhood teacher) so I'm not quite sure how old your children are in the US when they're in Kindergarten. I'm presuming 4 -5 years? Just trying to understand what the problem is the teacher has ... is it your child can't match the lower case to it's corresponding upper case letter? Or is it that your child can't handwrite the upper case letters? Or is your child having problems naming the letter and/or the sound it makes?
Here are some of my thoughts - As a teacher, I love it when the kids can handwrite lower case letters. As parents, we tend to write their names using upper case because it's easier for kids to learn, which is fine, but for some children it can be hard to then learn how to handwrite the smaller lowercase letters. They all get it eventually.
If your child is having trouble with the letter sound/name association & is only in Kinder, then I wouldn't be concerned, particularly if they're only 4 - 5 years. Maybe your child isn't ready for this yet.
If your child is having trouble matching just the upper & lower case letters then to me, this is a real easy one to work with ... lots of alphabet books (don't concentrate on the sound of the letter, but the name of the letter), typing her name on the computer using different fonts and cases, play dough letters, making letters with sauce (ketchup), magnetic upper & lower case letters on the fridge, cutting out letters from magazines.
I certainly wouldn't be doing any kind of paid tutoring program (she's kindergarten for goodness sake) such as Kumon, Fruition. etc. I wouldn't be buying any kids computer (they have very limited functions & don't allow for any creative thought).
I'd also be looking at how the kindergarten program is being delivered. Is it hands on with children using materials? Are there a lot of "worksheets" going on? Are worksheets being given in isolation i.e. not in context i.e. hey kids we're going to Gg today because that's the next one we're up to, or does the letter have any meaning e.g. the children are reading Mr Gumpy's Outing or it's Grandparents day or there are 6 kids in the class with the letter Gg in their name?
Anyway, I'll get off my high horse now ;-) Any questions, just email :-)

Kylie D'Alton said...

This is interesting to read. My son is 3.5 and attends a Montessori school (in Australia). I have often wondered how he would manage the shift to a traditional school if we had to move. I'll be keeping this post in mind.

nonchalant mom said...

I am so happy that this has been helpful to others, I just wanted to check in and let you know that we have taken many of your suggestions and used them and have also used many other ideas... she is doing much better (just a few weeks later) and catching up quickly. we have also been helping out in the classroom (as room parents) which has been a tremendous help as well as various iPad apps in which she traces letters and alphabet and number work. I will write a post on some of the apps that we have been using in case it's helpful to anyone. thank you again for all of your suggestions, so VERY helpful but mostly knowing that we are not alone in this is calming for a difficult situation. thank you!

g-girl said...

found your blog while doing a search for abc images! lol. it's such a coincidence that i stumbled upon your blog as I am a teacher at a school where we don't believe in direct instruction of reading or anything alphabet related. yes, Kindergarten should be a time for kids to play and have fun but when 1st graders are expected to have all the tools to know how to read, push has definitely come to shove. Everyone before me has offered up fantastic suggestions. I would add having your child write letters in the air too (take a picture with her eyes) and then write it in the air. bingo games, songs, matching games made out of bottle caps, etc. good luck!

Anonymous said...

There's no V.

Anonymous said...

I think you missed the V!!