How do I help my three year old learn her letters? - FamilyEducation
How do I help my three year old learn her letters?
04/28/2008 at 11:50 AM

I get weekly emails discussing what is going one with both of my children at that point in their lives.  My daughter, Maya, just turned three and the last email said she would be writing her name soon!  I was shocked!  Maya knows the alphabet, but that's the extent of her letter expertise.  I made a book, with an upper and lower case letter on each page along with an object that begins with that letter.  We went over A, B and C today.  She seems to be doing well with that, but when I asked her to try and write the letters, even after practicing, all she was able to do was scribble.  Is she very behind?  Is there something I can do to help in this area?  Any ideas???

I put up alphabet posters in my 3 year olds room, one day i was shocked she said "look mommy, a, apple" just beig around it all the time and she'll pick up on it. If you think your child is behind ask your doctor about it. Most of the time they're not "behind", children learn at different paces, what ever you do dont make your child feel like its a chore to learn, make it fun, if she thinks she has to do it, she wont want to, so have fun with it and good luck.

To help the child learn to write her name, label things with her name. Write "Lucy" inside her books and put a "Lucy's room" sign on her door. The reason the day-care is teaching her to write her name is because they are going to be doing more coloring and other papers to bring home. The coloring will develop the strength of her fingers so she will be better able to learn writing letters in a couple of years. Let them take the responsibility for doing this, it is just so that the staff doesn't have to write the names on the children's papers. You spend your time being mommy and daddy, not being surrogate day-care teachers. There is nothing wrong with having blocks and games with letters on them, but focussing on letters is best left til the child is older.

Your daughter is not behind at all. I work at a daycare center with 4 year olds. At this age (3-4) children learn the most through play. Some of the children reach my room and don't know how to write their names. They all learn differently and at their own pace. The 3 yr old teacher does mainly letter tracing with the kids and the ones that can write their names on their papers do and the ones that don't, she will write it for them. Once they reach my room we start to get away from tracing the letters to actually writing the letters. We do writing twice a week for about 20-30 minutes a day. We do this on white boards, chalk boards, in shaving cream, on paper, etc. I sit with each of them individually once or twice a week and help them write their names. Usually by the end of the year (Sept-May) they can write their names. I give them lots of verbal instructions to help them remember. For a small 'a' I tell them to make a small circle and give it a little tail. Or for an 'h' I say straight line down and then a small hill at the bottom. For 'e' I say to make a 'c' and then connect the top. They really seem to pick up on this technique and I hear them saying it as they write their names. Just remember not to rush her. If you want to do something I would just start out with the tracing and also labeling things with her name (as someone else suggested) is a great idea. Good luck!

Hi, With my boys, we played a matching game. I made my own flashcards for uppercase and lowercase letters. I made each letter (big and small) a different color (expl: A/a red, B/b blue etc). At first they matched uppercase and lowercase letters by color, but w/ repetition, they started to recognize each letter and were able to name them. We just started to practice writing letters. From what I've heard, letter recognition usually comes around 3 yrs old, but learning to write letters comes closer to 4. I wldn't worry. I started with pre-writing skills (horizontal, vertical and diagnal lines. I also had them trace shapes using dots and stencils. With their names, I had them trace dots, or I'd write their names w/ a yellow highlighter pen and then have them go over the letters with a pencil. My oldest son is 4, and he gets OT in school, so I've learned a lot of different techniques. In Barnes and Noble, I found some great Kumon workbooks that are very helpful w/ pre-handwriting, handwriting and cutting skills as well. Hope my suggestions help!

Your daughter is not behind. Some kids learn things at a different rate. If you are really interested in helping your daughter to read though, I would suggest the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann.
We used this book to help our daughter learn to read. The lessons are short and easily laid out to help make learning fun and easy. With that said, it's important not to put too much pressure on your child, and to let them learn at their own pace.
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Don't worry about her writing. It will come naturally as long as she is exposed to letters. One example would be making going to the grocery store a learning experience. When you see letters, for example apples, you can reinforce her learning by showing her the apples and pointing at the letter a. My child new the letter C at a very early age by seeing Caribou coffee. Another idea is to let her pretend to make a grocery list before you go to the store to practice her skills using a crayon or pencil. Another idea I give when teaching an early literacy class is to let children sign in when they get to school. They aren't going to automatically write their correct letters but giving her these opportunities will be fun for her. If she see's your worried, it is going to make her worried that she does not know how to do this.

There is absolutely no need for your child to know her letters at the age of 3 and no, she is not behind. All children learn at their own speed. I agree with lots of the ideas here though. Just having words displayed around the home, pointing out words when you are out shopping etc, a letter frieze in her room, and free access to paper and writing/drawing materials so that she can 'write'. Usually the first letter they will learn is the first letter of their name. You could put labels on familiar things in the home. Try writing letters with her but make it a fun thing and don't persist if she doesn't show interest. Just try again another day. Learning should be fun.

I don't think you have to worry about her being behind. As others have said, every child learns at his or her own pace. The important thing is to make her learning fun and consistent. She'll start picking up on things before you know it. She'll probably surprise you with how much smarter she is than you might think! :)

A couple of things came to my mind to learn letters. First there is a cereal that has letters and soup as well and I'm thinking there are crackers maybe too. I also have some molds/cutters that are letters and my kids use those with play dough or you could do cookie dough. If they cut out the letters to their name you could have them put them in the right order to spell their name. Or have your child make the letters rolling out play dough. This is fun. Just reading to your child exposes them to letters and words, and the more exposure the better. Leap Frog has some great learning games and VTech does too. My son has a Vtech game that models writing the letter and then you do it. Magna doodles are great for practicing letters and erasing them. Go outside and use colored chalk on your driveway to write. Have your child help you write his names in birthday cards, etc. or at the end of letters to say... Aunt Sue or Grandma Betty. You modeling writing letters is also helpful. I would mainly concentrate on upper case letters and then the lower case will come. My youngest son will be 4 soon, and can only do a few letters, but he is recongnizing some words and just starting to read. Another thought too is that alot of kids do better with the thicker pencils or even using a pencil gripper. I certainly wouldn't worry - that's coming from a mom and teacher. Good luck. Only

I was just having the same problem a couple of months ago. I started sending my 4 year old to preschool. At first all she could is scribble now she is improving as the weeks go on. They give her worksheets that had dotted lines that you trace over. She is recongnizing her letters and writng them down on paper. You can find age appropiate workbooks at wal-mart. Wish you the best hope this will help you.

Your daughter is definitely not behind. Avoid focusing on this "problem." By worrying, you actually risk causing problems and taking the fun out of learning. Instead, read to your daughter as much as you can. It is the best thing to do, for her learning and for her relationship with you. Matt TheBestForMyChild

my little girl has just become 3 and i am really worried that she is far behind other kids. i really struggle to potty train her she hated a potty so i let her choose a toliet seat and a step thinking that would intrest her more but when she says pee pee mommy i take her to the toilet and she keeps grabing me and crying her eyes out becouse she dont like sitting on it and i just dont no what to do with her. i also struggle teaching her words i have tryed with her but she gets the words when i say it and she will repeate them to me but yet she seems to still not get better with her sentence's i really dont no what to do and i am really worried that at the age of three she is too behind

Play with her - have LOTS of fun and incorporate the letters into the play - especially her name, but also things she is interested in, like "angel", "pony", "Car", etc. Make letters with playdough. Use stencils and markers to draw them. Bake cookies and shape them into letters. Copy from her favorite books. Don't drill her on them. Don't quiz her. Don't make it a test under which she must "perform". The critical element to her learning is to **JUST HAVE FUN**!!

Best idea is not to listen to people telling you what your child should or should not be doing at a certain age, unless they are health or education professionals who feel there is a problem. All children achieve their milestones in their own time and should not be pushed into accomplishing them before they are ready. All learning should be fun at this age, not a chore. Children learn through play, so give her plenty opportunities and leave the rest to her. I have worked many years with children of this age and very few of them have been able to write their name, or know many letters. There is plenty time for this. It's not a race. Let her enjoy being who she is at the moment.

Motor Skill Development This is the child's ability to use small muscles, specifically their hands and fingers. Use different kinds of words in your home unfamiliar to your child so that they can adopt new vocabulary. Buy tracing books and make them trace the letters so that your child may not face difficulty reading books. Buy CDs or cassette of poems and phonics so that your child may adopt some skills needed to read books. It is all up to you how you teach them and how much interest you take. • having a large vocabulary of words and knowing how to use them • understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds (this is called phonemic awareness) • understanding that marks on a page represent letters and words • knowing the letters of the alphabet for more information visit this blog

The recommendation to use tracing books to trace the letters is not a good one. A better way to develop small muscles is to make things with clay. Providing crayons and paper, along with occasional pre-printed coloring pages is also good. A better recommendation than buying CDs or cassettes is to read aloud with your child on your lap. Point to the words as you read them, and this will help develop phonemic awareness and symbolic awareness.