Bright child can't retain letter names?
My 5 year-old M seems to have great difficulty learning her letters and numbers. She has been in preschool for over a year and can recognize only five letters and the numbers 1-5. I have to admit that I have not worked with her at home as much as I should have, just because of all the turmoil in just adjusting to a new child with issues.

Anyway, now that I am working with her, I am surprised to see that after working on one letter for about five minutes (tracing and saying it, writing and saying it, making it out of yarn, clay, etc.) she can not remember what that letter is literally five seconds later. I try to motivate her by lettering her earn quarters that she can use to buy a toy she wants badly. I don't think she doing this to be "uncooperative", for lack of a better word. I know for some kids things just "click" later than others, but it concerns me that she can not retain something even a few seconds later.

She seems very bright in other ways (memory games, vocabulary, some abstract concepts). Her teachers and therapist agree that she is bright. I am in the process of arranging an evaluation through the school district, but I'm curious if anyone has experienced this. I am thinking maybe she has some kind of processing problem. Maybe she can visualize where a certain picture is in a memory game, but can't connect a letter name with it's image, as letters are still somewhat abstract to her.

If anyone has any thoughts, I'd appreciate it. Thanks!
It sounds like maybe she is dyslexic. I am as well, though mine is numerical rather than alphabetical. It took me years to be able to "see" certain numbers - I could recognize other numbers, but not certain ones. In a string of numbers, my eye would skip right over certain ones.

Interestingly enough, I did not really overcome my dyslexia until I started using typewriters and then computers. Because I knew WHERE those numbers existed on the typepad, I could make them appear on the paper or screen. After a while, I started actually seeing them because my brain knew I had put them there - sorry, that's the best way to describe it. The longer that happened, the easier it became for me to "see" them in every situation.

I had to literally train my brain to recognize that those numbers existed. If your daughter can say/sing her ABC's, even by rote (vocal memorization) it's likely she can learn that they exist, even if she doesn't 'see' them quite the same way you and I do yet.
Did she know her letters at some point, and then forget them, or is she still in the learning stages?

With Dennis, we used the whole Leap Frog system. The best was the "Letter Factory" video, which had a song and a mnemonic learning device for each letter. Dennis loved it, and he still remembers that a K is for kick. Just a suggestion.

What does her preschool teacher say?
She is still in the learning stage. My biggest concern is that she can't remember it even a few seconds later. I am trying to work with her more at home. Her preschool teacher had not noticed a problem until I brought it up a few weeks ago. She has since been watching more closely and working with M more. The teacher does seem a bit concerned now, and is trying to work with us. I will check out the Leap Frog sustem.

HI, My daughter had the same thing you are describing, It started around the same time 5. In the first grade they thought maybe she had a learning disability, her teacher recommended holding her back a year to see if it was just a maturity thing (maybe just not retaining due to lack of attention, although it did seem that she was paying attention and that she truly couldnt remember 5 seconds after) I did hold her back and she repeated the first grade. The best decisin I could have made, she is now a 4th grader and has been a straight A student since the second grade. I believe she just needed a little extra time to get it, the teacher explained it like this : Sometimes a light bulb goes off in their head, kinda like OH now I get it. LOL She really does"get it" now. She loves school and is doing very well. So keep in touch with the teachers and kep working at it, she will get there. Good Luck to you and her!!
The Leap Frog Refrigerator magnets are good too. My daughter puts one in each time she passes the refrigerator. It has improved her letter recognition and she is getting the sounds and word association.

They run about $20.
I would work on one letter a week and introduce the short sound as well. Write it with crayon,paint, finger dipped in water written on paper, tracing it in bowl of rice, whatever you can think of. Finding the letter in magazines, pictures that begin with this sound cut out and make a letter collage book. Lots of review of previous letters. Have her find letters when your in the car on signs in stores.

Some kids just need maturation, but given our kids backgrounds its best your having her evaluated. She's lucky to have a proactive mom.
Wow! I was just browsing through here as we have been starting to learn letters with our son (adopted 11 months ago) and it is exactly the same thing. We just don't know what to do.

We worked for days with the Leappad fridge letter thing... nothing (we were just working on A and B)... we moved on to him tracing and writing the letter. He seemed to learn A and then B (three days of practice). We skipped one day this weekend and now he has no clue was a B is... you can point to any letter and he says A...

I am so sad and anxious Unhappy and I just don't know what to try next... what will school be like if he can't learn his letters.

Any and all advice is REALLY WELCOMED!!!
Your case sounds much like my cousins. They thought his motor skills were great as well, but he was found to have dyspraxia :eek: . Here is a site with some information on it: [url][/url] Though I should state that even though the definition of this link has more emphasis on physical effects (not sure your dd shows), I thought you might find any information about processing with this disorder interesting.

You know your child best so maybe this doesn't fit her--you haven't given a ton of indication that it does. There are just many similarities though in the processing dept. My understand is that it's a wiring issue in the brain. The recepters and connecters aren't always working like they're supposed to. The information might even be in the child's head but it's almost like they can't find the file.

You may also want to check with a neurologist. They will probably have the best answers for you.

Best to you!
I thought my daughter would be unable to learn to read because of her FAS and apparent memory problems. Well, as it turns out, it's more a matter of her attachment disorder. She's a lot smarter than she lets on, and wouldn't learn her letters as a means of exerting control and wasting my time. She has memorized the alphabet, and can do pretty well on her weekly spelling list, which is 5 words. She's in the first grade. I recently was surprised by how much she understands phonics. I discovered this after she left me some notes on the stairs one day when she was upset about being put in time out. It was a revelation.

So, it could be a learning disability, could be a prenatal exposure issue, or it could possibly be an attachment issue. I don't recall if your daughter has attachment issues, and I recognize not all kids from care do. Just thought I'd mention another possibility.

It's sobering to realize my daughter feigns ignorance so that she can control people, but it is encouraging that as she gets treatment for her attachment problems, she will be able to learn with much more facility.
I also think we may be dealing with attachment issues and/or control issues here. But then again, I am fairly sure there was prenatal exposure that could be having an effect. She still has a lot of fears and anxiety, so maybe she just can't devote the energy yet to all the developmental tasks.

For now I am continuing to work with her. She does seem proud when she can name a letter. The only letters she can easily recognize are the ones in her name. Other than that, she gets B right 50% of the time, and we have been working on D and E (one at a time) for weeks now. Only rarely can she identify them more than 5 seconds past when we worked on them.

I knew a child with what I thought dyspraxia (according to his mom). He could not speak at all. Maybe I am mixing up the name. I assume his case was pretty severe. Anyway, a neurological evaluation may be a good idea down the line, to try to determine what damage was done by exposure to Meth both before and after birth.

Thanks for all the input!

I don't know about CO, but in CA I have learned that we can have her assessd through the school district, even though she is still in preschool. However, once she is assessed they will not do another assessment for another three years. I am debating whether to do it now or wait until kindergarten. Probably will do it soon. Good luck!
Hi SFBay

I am so happy to meet you (internet style). I thought we were the only ones with a child who could spend days looking at two letters and then the next day have no idea what they were.

I have asked to have him tested. Initially for speech / language (I asked at 6 months home they said he wasn't home long enough). So I am waiting on an appointment. I said I would like to have his learning tested and explained about the letters... she says "oh he shouldn't know letters yet" HUH?? :confused:

Please let me know what you learn and I will keep researching and I will let you know what I learn. I hate that our kids are going through this but hopefully we can help each other and our kids.

Feel free to pm me or email me at tjsaint04 at

Still sounds like it "could" be some sort of dyslexia (there are 100's of forms). Under this umbrella is dygraphia and a few more I won't even begin to spell.

I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about (I have it, so this is 1st hand).

I was making a poster. Had the word "The" just like that and wanted to put it all in caps (this was in a wp programs with spell check!). I could not tell what was on the screen! I'm in my 30's, graduated sum cum laude in college, A/B student, 99%tile on tests, and I couldn't read the word THE! It wasn't that I couldn't read it... I literally had no clue what the letters were that were staring back at me! I just shook my head, shut the computer down, and went home! My eyes/brain had had enough for that day!

With my son T (age 8, grade 2, severe dyslexia), he cannot remember letters from page to page, moment to moment at times. He's just barely starting to read.

It could be other things, but don't dismiss dyslexia.
Again like one of the other posters - I'd highly recommend the Leap Frog DVD's - it's a movie, lot's of music - very catchy. My 4 1/2 year old knew few of his letters prior to getting this DVD. I started with the "Letter Factory" then "the talking word factory". You basically work your way up. My little guy has exposure issues, attention span issues and I figured this was a good way to jump start kindergarten. Good luck!
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