Delayed Recognition of Letters and Numbers

My son repeated kindergarten and will be going to first grade even though he cannot recognize or write his entire alphabet or numbers. Any ideas on techniques to teach him these skills, without focusing on visual skills, his weakness in learning?

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Because you indicate that he is not visually oriented, I would recommend teaching him these concepts orally (in a way that he can hear) as well as kinesthetically. Eventually, he must be able to recognize numbers and letters visually, but the first step is encouraging recognition through alternative methods.

Songs and chants are an effective way to teach him numbers and letters. There are some good Sesame Street videotapes, as well as videos by Richard Scarry that can engage your son in learning these concepts. "Bailey's Book House" is a sweet software program that combines the visual with aural, a good combination for your son. You may also want to consider "Kid Keys" as a way to teach him the alphabet and keyboarding.

He may also respond to hands-on learning. Teach him the letters and numbers by allowing him to actually touch them. Cut letters and numbers out of sandpaper or differently textured fabrics. Have him trace the cutouts with his fingers as you tell him the name of each letter. Invite him to copy the letter shapes in plates of flour, sugar, salt, or whipped cream. He may even want to copy the shapes using clay.

Matching is also a good activity for a child this age. Find an alphabet memory match game for him to play. He can also match magnetic letters or numbers to their mates. Some stores carry alphabet macaroni and cereal, too.

Alphabet and number puzzles are easy to find at toy stores and educational supply outlets, and may help reinforce the concepts.

"Millie's Math House" is a good program for introducing the concept of numbers and early math skills. Your child may also enjoy "Muppet Math" and "Thinkin' Things." In addition to these, you may want to invest in dominos or other number matching games.

Books are another great way to introduce concepts. Read and share alphabet and number books with your son on a regular basis. "On Market Street," "Alphabears," "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," and "Animalia" are just a few of the wonderful books available (check out Amazon.com for more alphabet and number books). Your local library may have a selection of alphabet and number books, too.

For more ideas, talk to your son's former and current teachers. They may have some ideas for you that will help him make great strides. Although it may take time, he will eventually learn the numbers and letters. As in the story of "Leo the Late Bloomer," some children take longer than others to fulfill their potential. Be patient, and continue to support him. He needs your love and guidance.

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