My step-child is struggling to retain letters and numbers: How can I help him?

Here’s a tip that will probably get me screamed at. Get the kid a tablet and load a bunch of learning games on it. Set the password as the kids name. Obviously dont let the kid use said tablet for hours on end. This actually really helped both my kids at that age. Also do other parenting things like reading to them, letter association with real world things, etc.


My son was bad with letters found out it was his eyes he was amased what he could see with glasses only when it was bed time he took his glasses off his learning went full steam ahead

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Repetition and patience, if you do have him tested, no matter what they say trust your gut

Sing! Best way to learn and remember

Yes get him tested. There are so many games, and toys that will help is the a nursery school that would help with possible special needs

He could actually know but this is something he can control. Maybe just try the fun games with no pressure and praise any effort of repeating and right answers. My ds like to be silly when I was trying teach him so I had be creative and be incredibly patient. Also Sesame Street does have episode focused on the alphabet and numbers, leap frog has some DVDs focus alphabet and numbers I would play and he started gain the knowledge and be able to do sit down activities

Flashcards with numbers & abc if not you can make your own! Also YouTube with number songs & the abc song!

Leapfrog letter factory with the best thing for my son who was also struggling. He loved watching it and it helped so much. Also see if you can do a late enrollment in the Upstart program. It’s free. Most states pay for it. It is an amazing program! Google Waterford Upstart.

Make letters FUN. like playing w chalk. Also watch World World and Super Why.

Put everything you can in song versions.

Kids REMEMBER songs.

YouTube number songs. Letter songs.
That how we all learn.

Given their circumstances they probably have lots of catching up to do.

You are their Angel

Testing may be a good thing. Seeing as how you already know his biomother had CPS step in. There may be some issues physically and emotionally he needs to work threw. One can only guess what these little ones have been threw.
But I would get stamps and stickers with numbers and letters. Paint letters on the bedroom walls, and copy the caricatures from Dr Suess. And numbers on the bathroom walls.

My oldest learned with Dr Suess’ ABC her name is Zoie so the animal was a Zigger Zagger Zuess. So we changed it to a Zoie Zigger Zagger Zuess. And my youngest learned from Elmo and the gang

When I was younger my little brother had no clue about the alphabet. We made Flash cards to put around the house. A letter flashcard for each thing. A flashcard with the word of the item. In about 1 month of continuous asking the letter and name of said item (word we had got for that item. Then we asked letter, sound it out, and the item the word was.). He did great!!! Keep up the great work!!!

Tests might give you some answers/help. You are a great person to take on as primary caregiver for someone else’s children, with all of their problems and baggage :luggage: God bless all of you. I hope you have some support from family and friends. :pray::pray::pray:. He isn’t old enough to worry about it much,yet but you can try to help him start to learn some basics that he may have or not been exposed to before.


He probably doesn’t think it’s that funny, he probably has never had someone care that much, good luck to you

Let him play and be a child. Not unusual for boys (their brains are wired different) to not learn at an early age. He is in PRESCHOOL where they learn things like letter recognition, etc.


Hes 5. Life can be rough at that age. Hell get it. It will click one day. I’m sure hes got alot going on in his little mind. Xo

There is an app called ABCMouse that might be helpful. Talk with his teachers for help and to know what is being taught. Don’t scold or make him feel bad bc he is only five. Testing is always an option but don’t let the results define him or provide a crutch. I am a former teacher and had a child who is dyslexic. Be positive!!

I teach my son by being random and fun and silly with it. I’ll point at letters and say them he says them back but silly and excited and then I stop and he keep going every time he get one right I pretend he “got me” oof,eek,aah you got me after four or five I pretend to fall on the ground. We keep playing until he loses interest and we go do other stuff. Counting I like to use food like pop corn I’ll have him count echoing me a few times then I’ll have him count by himself to get popcorn and every time he gets five in a row there a popcorn shower onto his plate(handful dropped from above his plate) It takes time but if you make it fun and low pressure kiddo will pick it up in time.

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Hooked on phonics. Learning through music

His joke might be his way of hiding embarrassment. If he is just now in PS, I wouldn’t be too concerned. That is what PS is for (I am a former PS teacher). If he senses you are concerned, that won’t help the situation. Relax…he will learn thru play faster than any other way


Honestly, Elmo helped by son sooo much. Blues Clues as well. My son didn’t know any of his stuff for the longest time

Ok, I’ve taught preschool and kindergarten… some kids just get things later than others BUT I would say make it fun! Let him laugh, let him think it’s a game! The more fun you make it the more he will love learning! It’s called PreSchool for a reason! Don’t rush it!


Make it into a fun game, ideas on pinterest if you have that or just Google. May take a few tries to find something that he likes and helps.

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Have you already had hearing and vision tested? My cousin labeled everything in her house(chimney, tv, microwave) and she counted her stairs(labels on each step up). While I am not a huge fan of using electronics to teach a child, there are plenty of apps and computer programs and websites that offer games to help reinforce what is being taught.
Only other question is whether or not this has been brought up to the pediatrician?


Singing. Kids remember songs easier. Try making a song of what he has to remember.

Make sure he feels loved. Flash cards. Make homework time calm, peaceful, no playing. He will catch on.

Can the 9 year old help his younger brother maybe play some simple games with them both so he can catch up to where he needs to be

Try alphabet games. Pinterest has some great ideas. Most kids dont fully know alphabet till mid kindergarten. I know hes 5 but he just started preschool. All the change could be why he is having learning trouble also.


May God Bless you in abundance for helping these children :heart::heart:

He may have dyslexia. Ask the school to test him.

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Flash cards on his wall, make it a fun game.

Please pm me I am a step mother same exact issue I got helpful tips

As simple as it sounds, I had Great success with Leap Frog DVDs. Plus, they are inexpensive!


Have him tested for dyslexia.

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With all the changes going on, how is his social skills? The social emotional part for children most of the time needs to be met before The academics will come. ABC’s, one two threes, name writing, knowing the letters in his name those are just things he can memorize and they will eventually come. But can he sit for a story, can he sit at group time, can he play with other children, does he pretend play? Those are skills that a lot of kids even in kindergarten they have a hard time with. He can do all that he academics will come. :slight_smile:

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Tests? What are they going to tell you? He’s 5, not incapable of learning. Stop comparing him to others. I have two, a boy and a girl. My son is 6 (he still doesn’t recognize all letters and sounds, and doesn’t really know any numbers past 10), my daughter just turned 4 at thanksgiving (she knows all letters and all numbers to 10 and has since she was about two). Every child is different, every child learns differently. Take time to figure out different ways to teach him. Things associated with letters, such as animals, make the animals make that letter sound. Use index cards as flash cards for a visual, and you could even use clothes pins and write the letters on there. I mean there is so many options to help him learn. Also take into consideration that he just had a major life change, and it’s going to take time to adjust to that. Step up and take on that role as his mother, teach that baby how life should be, and he will learn better and will love you for every bit of effort you put in. He never had anyone before you it sounds like, so exceed his expectations. Make his life fun, the way it should have been all along. He’s going to act like learning is a joke, but being mean will only make him shut down and that’s the last thing you want at this point. Keep trying new momma, you got this!

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Alot of variables will play into this …how long have you been primary mommy and what happened before you had him… I’d talk to the pediatrician and go over all that he has been threw and is dealing with now. See if it’s just him learning at his own speed or if it’s more


My daughter is 2 and what worked for us is first she started with Sesame Street and they had the letter or number of the day song she danced too. So I tried to make it fun. Then I taught her how to count to ten demonstrating how to count to 10 on my fingers and then we would play hide and seek. Then I got these learning critters where I would say pull out 5 purple kitties from the bucket and she would do so. Then we did flash cards and seek and find books so she could recognize them written down. So now she can count to 20 and recognize that. We also played videos like Baby Einstein and Schoolhouse Rock which mainly was background noise to eventually get stuck in her head. :slightly_smiling_face::slightly_smiling_face:
But keep in mind every child learns at a diffrent pace. Kids all have dominant things there good at and some things that aren’t so great. Hope you find something that works. :green_heart:

Try subscription to ABC mouse .com

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If he thinks it’s funny while you are trying to teach him, then make it into a game so he’ll be more interested. I used alphabet blocks, I would put them on the floor in random orders then ask my son to find a letter, when he found it he could use it to stack with other blocks. I did the same with the number blocks. I also let him play with all the blocks when we weren’t using them to learn with. It helped a lot. Always remember that you are doing a great job with the boys, don’t doubt or second guess yourself if someone says something negative about what you are doing, as long as the boys are being loved, cared for, and growing, that’s all that matters.

Thank u for yur sacrifice, advice get him assessed, cud be ADD (it’s a lack of concerntration disorder), very common now days, my nephew had ADD an he’s 16 now, jus discovered he had ADD in Jan cos he was always failing, he is now under treatment for that ADD , best is to take him to hospital an explain to them wats the situation an take it from there, psychologist will help

Get his eyes checked. Our 5 yo was having a hard time until she got glasses. Her teachers from last year said they had no idea. But it’s helped her tremendously


Not much advice except, my daughter has a form of dislexia and they caught on in first grade so the school should catch it and give h one on one time with a special teacher a few hours a week. But can I just say awesome thing you are doing for those children and their father! They are lucky to have you!

Try the alphabet bingo, it really helped my daughter and she was interested in it because it was a game. But yes parents should be doing that with them earlier


Ask the school to test him…my daughter went to head start not speaking really any words they tested her and we were able to get help for her…fast forward 3 years and shes in 1st grade reading at a 2nd grade level…its not easy and i had to push to get her tested but once i did i also recieved help as well as far as being able to teach her

I don’t have any advice but would like to take a minute to praise you for taking those boys in like your own and being there for them. You are a strong woman and reaching out for help like this just proves how awesome you are❤


That’s completely normal. You’ll just have to work with him. And the laughing part…he’s 5?


ask the school to test him. he might have a learning disability. he might need extra help. both my boys have an iep


I would have the school test him. My middle boy is 6 now and repeated Kindergarten. He is on the autism spectrum and has ADHD. Do flash cards with him. There is work books he can do. Read to him. There are lots of things you can do. But definitely have the school test him.


Flash cards with pics and the word it helps with memorizing. And my grandson is 4 we just found d out he is autistic he has the same problem

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Speech therapy helped my daughter huge. And they will show you what to do at home too. And if he laughs at you, try to make a game of it. Then you can both laugh together.

If he’s 5 and just starting preschool, that’s pretty normal. I’d bet no one worked on his letters with him.

Try flash cards and games and lots of praise for getting the right answer.

Great job!

(And kids that age find everything funny)


There’s a toy made by PlaySchool that has a chalkboard with letter and number stencils. That’s how I taught my kids to write their numbers and letters and spell basic sight words. Maybe try the magnetic letters and make a game out of it?

It’s normal, every child learns at their own pace and some dont pick things up as quick as their peers. Dont push it too hard or he’ll hate it and resent the time you’ve spent to teach him. Make it fun for him and he might just eat up learning it. Keep positive. He doesnt want to laugh at you he wants to play and laugh with you.

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I went through the same thing with my oldest but he eventually grew out of it… every kid learns at their own pace!


Try cutting letters out of sand paper for him to manipulate. The feel of the rough sandpaper may help him remember. Also I bought magnetic letters and put them on the refrigerator. The little ones were free to play with them. I played with them by creating creating their names and they caught on and started making their own words

Flash cards. Practice writing them and saying them at the same time.

Read books. Go to library and read there. All play is learning. Tell them how smart they are. Have them do chores so they can get more praises.

I had granddaughter who missed 113 days of school when teacher made me aware I made 4 pages of one notebook sheet so had 8 page books Tessa had to write them herself then read them each evening 3 each evening she stayed on honor roll till she was 16

I suggest talking to his pediatrician. But above everything, patience, patience, patience!! If he can feel you stressing about it, he’s going to stress and learning will be much harder! A 5yr old boy, his mind is on dirt, bugs, and fire trucks if he’s anything like mine were

Don’t overload with to much at a time. small amounts and not to long of a study time. Might want to look for some work books . Keep it simple he will get it.

Do you read with them?

Maybe he’s just not ready!

Maybe put him in speech class?

Ask his pediatrician about “early intervention” (usually a free service) for his delay in your area. He may need a little extra help.

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My step daughter had the same issue. Exact same issue. It was discovered that she had issues with “working memory”. It went on halfway through 1st grade, until her mom went to jail and she came into our custody. She was eventually diagnosed with ADHD. It was missed for so long because she had no physical hyperactivity. She could sit and listen for hours, but when it came time to remember and use the information, her brain couldn’t organize it in a usable fashion. At the time, she was 6. I took her to a therapist. She had some serious abandonment issues at the time due to the sudden disappearance of her mom. (Her “mother” dropped her off with us and disappeared off with some dude she met, got arrested, did her time, got out, saw Ari once, then ran out on her probation, never to be seen again. She was 6 at the time. It has been 3 years since then.) That is when it got figured out. At the time she was in 1st grade. I pulled her out, got her on medication and started childrens yoga off YouTube and just read to her every day. Re-enrolled her in 1st grade the beginning of the next year. She has been in the top of her class ever since.

I am not saying your stepson is ADHD. They usually won’t diagnose that at your son’s age, at least not here, but I would consider trying to encourage him to watch things like Blaze and The Monster Machines. It did wonders with my son at that age to understand that numbers weren’t just a game but truly mean something important. It teaches not only numbers to toddlers but engineering concepts as well.

My daughter is going to be 5 in preschool. She refuses to do homework or anything. She seriously only identifies “a” . Some kids just learn slower & need different types of teaching techniques. Shes getting evaluated for autism,adhd & all that but he could also be acting out due to situation with parents. Kids handle things differently.

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You doing this for these babies speaks volumes of you as a person. I applaud you :clap: I have been raising my almost 16 year old nephew since he was @ 6 months. For me it was both learning and behavioral problems and all I can say is day by day trial and error. Start with either raising concerns to the school or Doctors. They should guide you on the steps, testing and treatments or home activities you can do. Just take a deep breathe and take everyday as it comes. Don’t get overwhelmed it might just be that he will learn at his own pace. You are amazing for taking these babies under your wing, your love will make them successful :heart:

Try some online tutorials, make him sit and focus, reward for success. You’ve got to earn some respect…spend time having fun with the child away from homework and keep pushing

I homeschool my son who is 7 and has autism, ADHD, and sensory processing. when he was old enough to do preschool I used an online site called starfall and use ABC mouse with him now. The games for letters they have keeps him interested and makes learning fun. He doesn’t like flash cards they bore him to death and YouTube has a lot of kid videos that focus on letters and stuff as well. Its easiest if you can make it fun for him and find out how he learns. :slight_smile: Get letter magnets for the fridge, a sign with his name for his room. Anything that will expose him to letters and numbers is great. Sometimes if you make games out of it he will engage better. Just make it fun. He is young yet and children develop at their own pace. Good luck <3

Id speak to your GP they can get some one to help you out if your struggling with him

I have this problem mine was dignosed with sight dyslexia
Nd moderate learning difficulties

i was 5 yr old when my parents found out i had learning difficulties nd i went to speciel needs school through out my child hood

I was 21 yr old when i found out i had sight dyslexia
And i have maths dyslexia

Am now in my mid 30s lead a normal life when it comes to reading nd weighting i have speail tinted lessons in my glasses that help me read nd a wright nd i have maths dyslexia where my brain cant see figer out numbers