Ways to Teach Letters to a Stubborn Kid

There are a few hard truths about my four-year-old son: he loves green beans, he loves cars, he worries about everything, and he hates trying anything new.

Over the few years we’ve had him, my husband and I have found that we have to take a “rip the Band-Aid off” approach to things that would cause him worry. For example, when we took the rail off his bed, I just took it off one night when he climbed in bed. It kept him from worrying all day and as I stored the rail under the bed, I explained that big boys don’t use bed rails. Going to pre-K? We told him the day before he started transitioning. Snow today? Won’t mention it until the snow actually starts falling.

But with skills, we’ve found that we have to force him a bit. I guarantee my kid would still be in diapers if I had not given him any other option. We’re in the middle of buying his first bike and judging by his refusal in the store, we’re looking at a hard road to get him peddling.

Needless to say, learning his letters has been a challenge from the start.

We noticed in preschool that he wasn’t participating in letters. He had no interest. But when he moved to Pre-K, it became something he HAD to do and he was already behind his peers. It was time to force the issue.

I knew he would resist so I knew I had to make it remotely enjoyable. While I am not a natural teacher, I think I’ve done a bang-up job. In less than three weeks he’s writing his name, sight-recognizing almost all the letters, and working on spelling. Here’s the ways to teach letters that we used on our stubborn (but smart) kid:

  • Need to teach letters to your stubborn kid? 1 of 5
    teachletters

    Click through for fun and easy ideas on how to encourage letter learning in your preschooler.

  • The Endless Alphabet app 2 of 5
    f30c10f0733d11e3bf36122e6a41368d_8

    This all started with fun :) Our son loves to play Angry Birds and a friend of mine had written about The Endless Alphabet app on her blog. The app sounds out each letter to make a word, so he gets the visual and auditory aspect of the letter, as well as a subtle learning of how letters make a word. So I downloaded the app and started requiring that he do 10 minutes of letters to earn Angry Birds. Soon he was begging to do the "letter game."

  • Reading alphabet-based books about topics he already loves 3 of 5
    5fd621a6761a11e39b73121f05e73e5c_8 (1)

    This is our favorite book since Harry adores trucks. By using a topic he enjoys, he will sit and read this with me without fuss, and it makes memory easier — he remembers "E" for excavator since he loves excavators. Each page is dedicated to a letter, so I read slowly and ask him which letter is on the page. 

  • Going old school with flashcards 4 of 5
    flashcards

    Before anyone cries that I'm drilling my kid, I swear I am not. We ONLY do flashcards when he asks to do them (which is pretty often) and he gets a mini marshmallow every time he gets a letter right. When he was in speech therapy, we used mini marshmallows as rewards and they are a huge incentive for my kid to try and earn a treat. 

  • Writing letters he’s learned 5 of 5
    chalkboard

    This Ikea chalkboard is gold. We keep it in the living room for drawing, but we also use it to practice letters. I write a letter and he traces over it twice. Then he writes it on his own. The first few times, we used marshmallows as incentives but now he gets so much pride out of success that I don't need treats. 

MORE FROM BA:
Working mom resolutions for 2014
Toy organization tips!
Kid things I still do because I’m the boss of me
Tips for staying sane as a working mom

Beth Anne writes words and takes pictures at Okay, BAYou can also find her on Twitter.

Tagged as: , , , ,

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Learn More.