When should they learn their ABC's? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 02-16-2004, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How old would you say is should toddlers know their ABC's? My 19 month old has been very interested in letters and knows all his ABC's (can't pronounce them very well though) since he was 17 months old. He plays with his fridge magnets all the time and can even put letters together to spell 3 letter words (cat, dog etc.) I thought this was somewhat normal for a toddler for his age but a lady at the library who's a kindergarden teacher says that some of her children aged 5 don't know their ABC's at all.

Perhaps I have a genius on my hand or do other toddlers do the same thing?
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#2 of 21 Old 02-16-2004, 07:07 PM
 
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I think it really depends on the level of parental involvement, and how much time you spend reading and talking to your child. I work at an elementary school where some kindergarteners don't jnow their letters, but i don't think this is the norm. A lot of our parents consider the school a baby-sitting service i think. Reading & speaking whole sentences to your child is soooo important! My oldest dd could say & recognize all the letters before she was 2, and we read a lot. She has always liked looking at books.

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#3 of 21 Old 02-16-2004, 07:25 PM
 
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I don't believe in teaching academics yet but did zoophonics cards w/ds to learn the letter sounds at almost 2 years. He learned them sooo quickly b/c it was fun and can pick the letters out at random and tell me their sound.

And, yep, there are lots of entering Kinders who don't know the letter names and many many who don't know sounds.
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#4 of 21 Old 02-16-2004, 07:47 PM
 
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I believe in following ds' lead on what he wants to learn. He know about 5 or so letters at 2 1/2 but he loves numbers and shapes. He can count to 15 and knows a good assortment of shapes including trapezoid, pentagon, octagon and parallegoram, which I honestly could not remember all of before I started learning along with him. He's interested in colors lately but is having a hard time grasping that there are different shades of the same color. All depends on the kid I guess.
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#5 of 21 Old 02-16-2004, 07:51 PM
 
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Well, DH and I read lots of books daily to our 22 month old. And he loves books, even has a few completely memorized, sings the ABC song. But he doesn't know his letters. Hasn't shown any interest in learning "ABC's" per say, and I'm a believer in the philosophy of kids learning when they're ready. It's great if they know the alphabet this early, but totally unnecessary, IMO. I bet he'll probably be reading very early from the way he's going, and if he's like me as a child, he'll be reading before he can identify each letter.

I find all small children amazing in their ability to learn without us really teaching them anything other than just being with them. I think they are all little geniuses in their own right.
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#6 of 21 Old 02-16-2004, 09:11 PM
 
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Your little one sounds similar to mine. Jakey is 19 months old now and about 2 month ago he started learning his letters - on his own initiative - not mine! He'd point at a letter and ask "dat?" so I'd say it for him. He's got most of them down now and sees them everywhere! I certainly didn't push him, but wasn't going to tell him that he was too young to learn his letters! It is pretty cute, because he doesn't talk very much so he doesn't always pronounce them just right. W is Dub-duh, for example. He also know all the colors (in sign language), and shapes.

Now he has become fascinated with numbers... so who knows, maybe he'll learn them next.

I try not to make a big deal out of it, both with him and with other people. I don't want people saying "you are so smart," or things to that effect. I don't want him to feel any pressure to "perform" in academics at all at this age. We've been taking a Waldorf approach to play and learning and I want to make sure his imagination is allowed to be the main focus for now.

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#7 of 21 Old 02-17-2004, 11:02 AM
 
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i think it just depends on the child, and a little on the parents. my ds will be 3 in June, but knows just a few letters, he could care less. we do read, but he doesnt enjoy it like he used to. when he was 1 we used to read upwards of 15 books a day!! now i have a hard time sometimes getting him to read 1 with me. He could care less about letters, but loves to count and can go up to 13 by himself and higher with help. He knows shapes and colors but could care less about letters, i have tried everything and hes not interested... im not too worried about it at this point.
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#8 of 21 Old 02-17-2004, 12:07 PM
 
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Ming is already interested in her abc's. she calles all the letters da though. i work p/t at a daycare so i take her with me so she's around a bunch of 2 and 3 yr olds who are always reciting the alphabet. she brings me the abc talking toy and i call them out and she says da. it's the cutest thing.
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#9 of 21 Old 02-17-2004, 12:52 PM
 
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I think it really depends on the level of parental involvement, and how much time you spend reading and talking to your child.
While this is a very important thing to do, I disagree that it affects when they start to become interested in letters. It really depends on the child. Some are more into numbers, some music, some running and jumping. It sounds like your little one definitely has an interest in letters!

My ds will be 3 in May, knows all of his letters, but doesn't sing the ABC song. He doesn't sing any songs though. We read constantly around here. He has been 'diagnosed' as gifted because of his advancement in the way he uses numbers, apparently. But I've never been one to sit down and work on his ABC's with him. I'm not really big into rote memorization, and really believe that each child will pick it up when they are ready.

I don't think there is any one answer as to when a child 'should' learn their ABC's. They all will on their own time frame, and when you have a group of 6 year olds together, you won't be able to figure out which ones were saying them at 14 months (like a friend of mine's dd) or at 5yo.
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#10 of 21 Old 02-17-2004, 03:19 PM
 
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In response to Ocean Baby... Yes, I think at this age it does depend on the child and what their interests are. We happened to have read a lot of alphabet books when Revina was younger b/c she liked them, so I am pretty sure that is how she learned her letters. However, as the kids get older having a parent who reads/talks to their child is essential for academic growth. I know to a lot of us it may sound like common sense, but I work at an elementary school in a program for low readers and I see kids everyday whose parents don't read to them now and didn't when they were a child. Reading just 30 minutes a day makes a huge difference. Too many of our parents think their childs schooling is something they don't need to take part in. And a lot of these kids don't like reading now, because they didn't get the opportunity to like it as a child. You know you don't have to force a 3 year old to sit during the day to read a story, but it could be part of the bedtime routine or something. JMO

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#11 of 21 Old 02-17-2004, 03:39 PM
 
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Originally posted by oceanbaby
It really depends on the child. Some are more into numbers, some music, some running and jumping.

My ds will be 3 in May, knows all of his letters, but doesn't sing the ABC song. He doesn't sing any songs though. We read constantly around here.
I really, really agree with this statement. As a comparison to Oceanbaby's dc, my dd just turned 3 and has been singing EVERYTHING (including the ABC song) for a long, long time. She is a very artsy-fartsy child (like her parents), and her interests are visual arts, storytelling, singing, dancing....and she is very gifted in these areas. But she is completely bored by the actual letters, and can only identify 10 of them (abcde,l,m,o,r,s--and s only because it looks like a snake ). She loves to be read to, and we read piles of books each day. She also "reads" constantly to real or imagined audiences, and has many books memorized word for word. She seems more interested is seeing a whole word than a letter--and will ask "what is this word?" or "how do you write 'tree'", but never "what is this letter?".
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#12 of 21 Old 02-17-2004, 03:53 PM
 
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However, as the kids get older having a parent who reads/talks to their child is essential for academic growth. I know to a lot of us it may sound like common sense, but I work at an elementary school in a program for low readers and I see kids everyday whose parents don't read to them now and didn't when they were a child.
I totally agree. It's hard for me to believe that some parents don't read with their children, but dh told me that his parents NEVER read to him. He just now as an adult in his early 30's has finally learned to love reading (I like to think I had something to do with it!), and now has a hard time putting a book down. My father doesn't read for pleasure for himself, but he always read books to us as kids.

I could read by the time I entered first grade (I didn't go to preschool or kindergarten) just from reading with my parents so much. It was one of the things I was most looking forward to when having a child - reading with them.

And yes, my ds would always point to letters and ask "What's that?" He definitely did the letters, not the whole words, like sunmama mentioned her dd does. It's so funny how different each kid is. I am a math freak, and my sister can barely add, yet we were raised by the same parents.
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#13 of 21 Old 02-17-2004, 04:22 PM
 
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Imust have the only kids who hate being read too. They will both look at books unitl the cows come home but heaven forbid i try to read those books. They give me a look and run away :LOL Go figure. My three year still doesn't recognize many leters (2 or 3) but her intrest is growing and she ismore intrested in writing them than saying them. I have no doubt that when she is ready she will learn them over night and know everything about them. She is a very "in my own way and in my own time" sort of a girl. My oldest one was more easily led and knew all her letters byt he time she was 3 1/2 or so (I she did let me read to her, still loves it when I do). my baby is just a baby and can't say three words much less the alphebet.

I also wanted to point out that all of my children were late verbally (except for the middle one ) but she stopped taking at a year and waited another 6 months or so before utteriung another single word., (I must have tried to get her to say someting one time : ). But I think a childs verbal ability has a lot to do with when they can recite the letters and a baby who talks earlier is definitely going to be able to say thier letters earlier.

Your child is deffinitely ahead of the curve. Lots of kids can recognize a few letters at his age and even remember what sounds they make and how to spell simple words. especially if you make a habit to teach him. I also think it is perfectly normal for a child his age and much older to just not get it or just not care and there fore be unable to.

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#14 of 21 Old 02-18-2004, 12:33 AM
 
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I don't think it's a matter of "when" they should learn ABCs...just whenever they are interested and ready.

My dd knew all of her ABCs, numbers up to 20, colors, etc way before she turned 2. She could sing the ABC song, and she recognized a few words. She just turned two and is now starting to "sound out" words. ("Duh-ah-dee. Daddy!") She speaks in full paragraphs, not just sentences.

Her favorite activity is reading, though - and I am not exaggerating when I say we read for about 4 hours a day.

However- she has friends who can color in the lines, whereas she scribbles. She has one little friend who can sculpt animals out of Play-doh. My dd just wants to feel it squish between her fingers. I'm not worried. She excels at what she likes best. I think it is totaly normal for toddlers.

(And I think it's one more reason to homeschool. I don't want her to go to pre-school next year and have to sit thru learning letters and how to count.)
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#15 of 21 Old 02-18-2004, 12:43 AM
 
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Imust have the only kids who hate being read too. They will both look at books unitl the cows come home but heaven forbid i try to read those books. They give me a look and run away
No you aren't theonly one. Ds does not like to be read to. He is about this about everything though, he has to direct how things go. Sometimes he wants to tell me his interpretation of what is going on by the pictures and sometimes he just wants to point to things and tell me what they are or ask what they are if he doesn't know. Whenever I try to actually read to him he says no and closes the book. Oh, when he opens a book he says "Once upon a time." and when he closes it he says "The end." It's so cute.
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#16 of 21 Old 02-18-2004, 01:26 AM
 
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I agree it just depends on the child. It also depends on the sibling factor.
My oldest dd didn't learn the alphabet until she was three and then some. But my youngest dd (now 2) has been saying the letters for months now because she follows the lead of my oldest dd. Sooo...so many factors go into it. The important thing is to follow their lead.
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#17 of 21 Old 02-18-2004, 02:46 AM
 
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I agree that it depends on the child. My ds1 was very verbal beginning around 2, and he started learning them, by himself, around 2 1/2, and I did teach him the abc song. He also LOVED being read to.

Ds2 is 19months and verbal, but not nearly as verbal as ds1. He likes playing with the fridge magnets but isn't interested in what letters they are. He also only likes being read to a bit.....mostly he's not too interested.

I knew my letters and could read (not recite from memory but actually read) at 18mos, can you believe it? My family thought I was a genius........well.......they were wrong, lol, I was just really into reading and ahead of the curve in that department.


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#18 of 21 Old 02-18-2004, 11:22 AM
 
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think it just depends on the child, and a little on the parents.
I totally agree with this. We're following a kind of unschooling philosophy. I don't force my 29 month old to learn anything. We never sit down and say now it is time to learn the alphabet, etc. I just buy him a lot of learning toys and he knows they're available. Sometimes he plays by himself and sometimes he wants me to play with him.

Before he turned 2, we used to play this game where he picked up a magnetic letter and as he shook it, I'd make the letter sound over and over. Then I'd name a bunch of words that start with the letter. Then about four months ago, he took a magnetic A out of the letter box, walked to the refrigerator chanting the short a sound. My husband and I were shocked. Soon, we realized he knew a bunch of letters and about a month or two later, he pretty much knew the sounds for all the letters. I am amazed because I used to teach preschool and I rarely saw 3 or 4 year olds who could do this.

But although I'd like to say, he can do this because we are such amazing parents...I think he can do it because he has an incredible memory. He knows shapes, his letters, colors, some numbers, can identify 5-6 states and about 5-10 countries. We really don't put any effort into it. We're very much into child-led learning.

I'll also say he's a late-talker...so while his brain his far ahead in one area....it's somewhat behind in another area.

Another child might be excellent at communicating with verbal language, but have no interest in the alphabet until they're eight years old. I don't think it really matters. We usually all get their eventually.

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#19 of 21 Old 02-18-2004, 11:24 AM
 
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To reply to the OP, yea, I think that is really early to identify letters. Spelling words at 18 months...woa! Sounds exciting.

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#20 of 21 Old 02-18-2004, 05:14 PM
 
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My son has decided that it's time to learn his letters, numbers, and how to make words. (As I sit here typing, my son keeps bringing me things with letters and telling me their names, asking for sounds. : )I don't think there's any such thing as being too young or too old, and I think it does children a grave disservice to imply that there is. When the kid is ready they are ready, end of story.

Both of my nieces learned their letters and numbers around 2 years old, that was what they wanted to do so they did it. I learned mine at age 2 in four days because I had wanted to do it earlier but did not have the opportunity (long story). Six months after that I was reading on a second grade level; my older niece is 6 years old and is only now comfortable reading on a first grade level. She's taken her own time about it, and it's all good. My younger niece has no interest in either putting letters together to make words or taking words apart to see letters (unless they're very large print :LOL). She's three years old, and no one is pushing her. She'll do what she wants when she's ready.

Eli is 15 months old, and many have said "that's too young to be teaching a child his alphabet". Well, Eli seems to think otherwise.

Oh, and about being read to: I hated to be read to as a child. I remember being three years old and someone trying to read to me. I took the book out of their hands and said "Thanks, but I'll read it myself." I always found it irritating that a)their voices never matched the way I heard character's voices in my head and b)they read so unbearably slowly. Only recently have I been able to tolerate listening to any "reading aloud". I've been listening to recorded books on long car trips, and I really enjoy that. Time to go, Eli is crying for the alphabet again and I'm going to be a naughty parent and indulge him. :

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#21 of 21 Old 02-18-2004, 05:43 PM
 
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Originally posted by trishshack
No you aren't theonly one. Ds does not like to be read to. He is about this about everything though, he has to direct how things go. Sometimes he wants to tell me his interpretation of what is going on by the pictures and sometimes he just wants to point to things and tell me what they are or ask what they are if he doesn't know. Whenever I try to actually read to him he says no and closes the book. Oh, when he opens a book he says "Once upon a time." and when he closes it he says "The end." It's so cute.
This was ds to a 'T' until just about a month ago (a few months after he turned 3). He has just started wanting to read a book or two (or four or five sometimes) at night before sleep. It's strange to me because I just ASSumed he would be like me. I loved to read and started doing it on my own at his age. Nope - not him! He has another agenda. His vocabulary is extraordinary... his imagination is soaring. But, with the exception of a singing a slightly botched ABC song every now and again and occasionally playing with his letter magnets to spell his name, he has very little use for letters.

In their own time... that's the key.

But I do see the difference between having a child who just doesn't want to be read to and having parents who never make the effort. That's tragic, IMO.
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