COAH Community

Please help- my 5 1/2 year old can't identify her letters


I have 4 kids (well 5 but 4 younger ones). My 5 1/2 year old daughter is about to start kindergarten (November baby) this next school year. I am so concerned and losing sleep because I have been working with her casually for over a year on her alphabet and she still can’t recognize her letters. I don’t believe she is dyslexic. I remember that her two older sisters (9 and 7) weren’t great at this skill either but are doing fine now, although my 9 year old is a very slow reader. My concern is that I don’t want to hinder her learning by keeping her home. She had expressed an interest in going to “real school” and I was open to letting her try it this next school year but she recently said she was fine staying home. This was my first year homeschooling. We just finished a week ago (Georgia) and this year was so much harder than I expected but I learned a lot and am looking forward to improving next year. However, I still stress that I am somehow going to ruin my kids. What do I do with my 5 year old who can’t identify all of her letters yet? I haven’t stressed her out, thank the Lord. Instead I just play alphabet games with her etc. I guess I just need reassurance and a prayer or two or three. :slight_smile: My kids are the greatest blessings to me, besides my husband and I don’t want to impede them in any way. We are using an online school next year (k12) and although that has its challenges I am going to stick with it because for us the pros outweigh the cons. I just hope that my sweet Lily can catch up in time for kindergarten. Should I be worried and seek help for my daughter? I used to teach kindergarten! I don’t understand it. :frowning:



NO!!! Don’t stress and don’t panic. she will get there. You are playing alphabet games and such which is so good. She most likely isn’t quite ready to put the letters together yet to where she consistently, or maybe the word should be, “reliably” recognizes them.
Our second son, just about to finish first grade and turn 7, struggled with his letters and had absolutely NO interest in keeping them straight - or identifying them. Some days he knew them, some days not even close. This went on through all of kindergarten and the early part of this year. We tried flashcards, alphabet songs, writing in the dirt . . .
What seemed to really bring the letters into focus was when he got into the part of Phonics that starts putting letters into words - about midyear, this year. When we started spelling word lists that follow phonics rules, he got even better at letters. It seems that his mind works better with to be less “recognize the letter” and more “use the letter”. He is really getting good at spelling and has no issues recognizing letters now. He is reading nicely now as well.
I am hoping that we see even more improvement in this next year when he leaves manuscript writing for cursive penmanship. With his older brother, phonics, reading and spelling jelled together very well once he mastered all his cursive letters.
One thing you might try is tactile learning. I did this with a kindergarten English as a Second Language student.
There are touch and trace cards that work, but we had a librarian who baked us sugar cookies each week in the shape of the small and capital letter we were working on - a combination of tactile and reward. He learned them quickly and well along with the phonetic uses in both languages.
Don’t be afraid to try all kinds of ways and ideas. You are not going to ruin your kids by trying different ideas and methods until you find the one that works for the way they learn. “Teach them in the way that they can learn” ( quoted from our oldest daughter’s DARE Instructor t-shirt.)
Good luck.



My little boy who is 5 years and 2 months also struggled a lot with letters and their sounds. He has about 1/2 down and still doesn’t know he other half. Part of it is he’s a 3rd child and a boy. This is a big part of the reason we are HSing next year. He’s not considered where he “should be” for K and would be put in a remedial group. He’s smart and it will click, he’s just not there yet. And he went to a public school Pre-K, so being at home isn’t the problem. Don’t stress, some kids are just late bloomers :slight_smile:


Keep praying, make it fun not stressful…for the both of you!!! Try using all senses and see which one seems to stick more…Hear (Alphabet letter songs, will post my favorite one! Actually helped me as an adult realize I didn’t know all the correct letter sounds!!), See (Well let’s face it, letters are EVERYWHERE!! Create alphabet bingo sheets! While out on the road running errands, grab a bingo sheet & if child gets BINGO before getting home, they win a prize!! But they obviously got to point out the letters to ya!! Letter sound or letter!! If they can’t figure which letter it is, help them! I always ask them like this…"Is that a B or a P? It really helps!!) Taste (Do they still have alphabet soup?? Or food that starts with that letter…A: apple, B: blueberries, I: Ice cream…yum, etc.) Touch (Like someone else suggested above, there are books out there that let kids trace letters with their finger…I heard sand paper alphabet letters are good! Montessori technique I think it is? And yes, writing in dirt, finger paint, shaving cream, pudding, play dough, Letter magnets and so on!!) JUST KEEP IT FUN!!! :slight_smile:


Here’s the alphabet letter song that my little ones enjoy! Characters look a little funky but that’s just my adult opinion :wink:
Watch “Phonics Song 2 (new version)” on YouTube
Phonics Song 2 (new version):


Hi there @mlnunes :slight_smile: I just wanted to leave a note of encouragement for you. Having been a Kindergarten teacher yourself in the past, I am sure you know already that children this age can have a wide variety of abilities when they come in to Kindergarten, but I also know it’s different when it’s our own children and it’s hard not to be concerned about where they are and whether we can offer what’s needed to help them reach their full potential. I just wanted to echo everyone else in saying, “You can!!” :slight_smile: Our first two years of homeschooling were full of ups and downs (we are finishing our third year next week) and this third year is the first one I’ve felt like we (or I) really had a handle on things and moved steadily forward. Each of the first two years were full of trial and error and giving up on what wasn’t working in favor of trying what might work instead. But now we’re really powering ahead and I’m learning to love the freedom of getting to constantly choose new materials to change things up and challenge us all and take fresh approaches. Things will get smoother for you and you’ll gain confidence each year, you will! And even if your 5 year old doesn’t entirely catch up in time for Kindergarten, that is probably okay. She has all of that year to grow and learn through it and to come into her own. I don’t know a lot about K12 and so maybe there are some requirements for what she will need to know before beginning that may not apply for homeschoolers who aren’t using that program. But I would hold off seeking help for her until you see how she is doing with it when that time comes. I’d keep working with her over the summer, especially using the techniques mentioned by @htfhilltopfarm (baking letters out of salt dough might last a long time and she could paint them too!). I found out in our first year of homeschooling that my daughter is NOT an auditory learner. Something I never knew! She can listen to something for 20 minutes and not be able to repeat a single sentence back to me! :slight_smile: So maybe giving your daughter the letters to hold in her hands, the actual shapes that she can wrap her fingers through, might help! It might be better than a raised letter on a card or a refrigerator magnet would be. I wish you all the best and prayers for peace of mind and encouragement of heart!


@HSintheCity, great ideas! You have said all and more than what I was going to say :smile: ! I love the multisensory Montessori approach!
@mlnunes, you have received great responses, I have nothing else to add! I am sure you can do it and also your daughter! Keep on going!
Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. (‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭15‬:‭7‬ KJV)


You have gotten some great responses! The only idea I wanted to add is to read lots of books together. Make sure she can see the words on the page, and touch each word with your finger. The more exposure she has to language, the better she will do! Dr. Seuss books are great for letter recognition because of all the silly words and funny sounds. They really make you look at the letters in the word. I know that some people disagree with that so feel free to take it with as many grains as you feel appropriate. :blush: Don’t worry, your concern is enough proof that you will not “ruin” anyone. :blush: Most homeschoolers have those fears in the beginning.


Thank you all so much for your encouragement and your great ideas. I am going to try each and every idea you all mentioned! You gave me so much to try and to work with that I will have a fun filled summer of activities. Thank you all so much for responding. I appreciate each of you and your kind words.


Thank you. This is great!


I have been in the same situation as you worried about messing up my children’s education, worried that they didn’t know the things they should etc… here we are now and doing well. :slight_smile:
My advice when it comes to learning letters is always the same. For us we used Leapfrog Letter Factory. I let my children watch it once a day, and right after they watched it I would show them flashcards with the same letters (we started with capitals because they were not yet reading age so it didn’t really matter) after they picked up most of the letters I continued with the same routine and added lowercase letters (we only went through the cards once or twice). Once that was down pat we went through it once again with them associating the sounds with the letters. By the time they were 2 and 3 they knew the letters and sounds. I didn’t make it stressful, it was just a quick run though until they got it. I think it took us a couple months. This may not work for everyone but it is what worked for us. I hope with all the suggestions you find something that works for you.
The fact that you are worried about messing up your children’s education is usually a sign of someone who will make the best efforts to make sure they don’t. You will pick up on things very quickly and try to help your child rectify them. :slight_smile: Don’t worry and enjoy the journey. When your DD ‘gets it’ you will look back at this moment and wonder why all the stress?!


During K5 my children learn to sound out the letters. Short vowels, consonants, long vowels. It’s actually better if they don’t know the letter names yet, it was advised. And they learn the letter names as they learn their sounds. If she was going to 1st grade I would say she needs some work done beforehand. But not for K5. If you really want to, you can use Reading Readiness by KOF just to give you some peace of mind. But I don’t find it absolutely necessary in this situation.


I know most people have already covered the main points - but just wanted to offer my experience. My 3rd child - a son - had no interest in letters or the alphabet up until he was actually in “school” and in “kindergarten” and we started doing phonics. But it still took him 1/2 a year to learn the alphabet song and the letters - he is doing good now, although even now has trouble sometimes. He is actually much better remembering the sounds the letter makes than the name. So no worries - she will learn them when she is ready :slight_smile: keep doing what you are doing - and you are not ruining your kids. :slight_smile: Have a good day!


Thank you for the encouragement, sgrrrbear. I remember that you had used k12. Did you use it for kindergarten? If so, did they provide good hands on manipulatives? Do you recall if the lessons assumed full letter recognition prior to the start of kindergarten?


@mlnunes - yes we used K12 online school for his kinder year - As far as manipulatives go - I think they did pretty good - but I have not used any other programs. :slight_smile: So I have nothing to compare it to. They included a white board, and letter tiles, so that they kids can make words with them. They also include a bunch of color tiles as the kids learn sounds and hear them change. They have sight word flash cards as well. They have k12 phonics works readers.

The first 9 weeks of K12 phonics are learning the sounds of letters, (NOT with the letters either - it is just listening)and learning the alphabet (letter names) and learning capitals and lowercase letters. - learning your right hand from your left. So, it is OK in the program if your child does not know all the letters at the start.

The final 3 quarters they finally start learning letter sounds with letters and start learning to read. So, it is a really great and slow progression - starting off with just the very basics. I really actually do like the phonics course and purchased everything privately. :smile:

Thanks for asking - and I do hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions! :slight_smile:


sgrrrbear, you have made my day! Thank you so much for your reply. I think that with that slow progression, we will be fine. What a relief! :slight_smile: Thanks again!


You’re welcome @mlnunes - I am so glad I could help ease your mind! I too think everything will be fine. Best wishes to you! :slight_smile:


You’ve gotten some great advice here. I just want to add that there is nothing magical about when kids should learn certain things. Public schools have to have a set list of things for all kids of the same age to learn. Otherwise, the teachers would go nuts trying to keep everything straight. You don’t have to worry about that. When he is an adult, it will not matter if he learned to recognize letters when he was 5 or 8. He’ll be fine. Hugs.


Thank you sahmcolorado. You are absolutely correct. Sometimes I forget that my kids can go at their own pace now that they don’t have to worry about the traditional school. Thanks. :slight_smile:


It’s so hard to remember!