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Customer Discussions > Early Reader forum

Help with a 4 year old who hates to learn?

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Showing 51-68 of 68 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on May 27, 2008 3:21:56 PM PDT
Vicky says:
My 6 year old was really delayed in learning letter names, etc. She is a very kinesthetic and also somewhat visual learner. I discovered very late for us that she is a Montessori style learner and would have done well if she could have gone to Montessori school. (Our local school ends at Kindergarten). Try making letters in the sand, out of sandpaper, clay, etc. Don't let him know he's learning. Make him thinks it's fun! That's what a 4 year old's job is. To have fun and learn while playing.

We taught my daughter Alphabet recognition by watching the Leap Frog Videos (The Letter Factory). It also teaches sounds.
I would read high quality engaging books aloud to my child if I were you. It may be that he absorbs more when he is not forced to be perfectly still. I know this isn't what school will expect of him but then maybe this is one reason why so many of the schools seem to be failing our kids.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2008 5:53:44 PM PDT
Little rewards for education tasks may get him on the right track. What's his currency? A little toy, pez, matchbox car? Also sounds like his focusing will be a big problem, especially that he can't sit still. Give him projects with little rewards also. A lot of kids do not thrive at all in daycare.
Some do, some don't. He also needs alot of your undivided time. He will improve and soon the little rewards will become a thing of the past, but right now, not learning is getting a big reaction from you, and good or bad, little ones will go for the reaction. Good Luck!

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2008 6:00:06 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 29, 2008 6:00:49 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2008 7:41:17 PM PDT

Your son sounds "spirited". He has a mind of his own and just independent.

I will ONLY give my book's title on these threads when appropriate.

Try "You Make Me Want to Sing" (Music Stories), it's melodic, soothing and repetitive. It also tinkers more with the "right" side of the brain.

Though I know how the song goes, with imagination you can develope your own tune to the story. The story is about "him", your son, all children, and how much we love them. Though I'm sure your son knows you love him very much, it never hurts to reiterate your emotions through another besides saying "I Love You."

He's four, so the reading level is just right for him. Try it out.


In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2008 10:18:43 PM PDT
R. Timm says:
Every child is unique, of course, but the following things have consistently worked for our family and others:
1. Drastically limit TV time, it isn't easy at first but it is a huge factor
2. Keep him home with you, if possible, and try to unlock his learning personality together
3. Take a hard look at his diet and nutrition. So many additives, dyes and preservatives are mildly toxic and have negative effects on little bodies. I noticed someone already mentioned the Fiengold Program and I agree.

These are 3 simple places to start, don't expect schools to help you with your precious boy. No one can love him and understand him more than you do, just think of him as a fascinating puzzle that you have the opportunity to figure out, nurture and guide!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2008 3:43:01 PM PDT
Laura Diaz says:
I am a public preschool teacher. I work with 4 year olds in their prekindergarten year. It sounds like you have a strong-willed child! As for learning learning the ABC's I found a dvd that works wonders! It's a leapfrog video called "The Letter Factory". It uses music (very catchy), cartoons, and repetition to make help kids make the letter sound connection and identify letters. I found it at Target and Wal-Mart for around $10.00.
Good Luck,

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2008 9:50:43 PM PDT
CK says:
You may want to look at my book "The Verbal Math Lesson." Its a fun way to do math, verbally as a game and with no writing.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 30, 2008 6:59:55 AM PDT
C. S. Rice says:
If he is energetic, then make up tests for him that require him to run and dart from place to place. Make math problems that require him to pick up golf balls and run over to a new location to place them and count them. Have him count the number of times he jumps rope. Have him count the number of times he can spin in a circle (careful, he may become dizzy and fall if he keeps going). Introduce energy-consuming activities. At his age, my energy knew no limit. Now, my job is almost purely intellectual (writer, publisher, artist, and programmer). If space permits, play basketball with him and have him count the number of shots he makes - how many go in, how many miss. Have him do mass problems with this sort of activity.

Additionally, reading to him after he tires himself out is wonderful. Choose books that teach logic and reasoning. Young mysteries are particularly good for this. However, the point is not to scare him, so no young horror. Rather, it is to place within him a need to learn. Introduce him to Heracles and his trials (have him count and recite them). Introduce him to the ancient history. Create hands on activities where he uses Popsicle sticks to make a longboat. Have him count the Popsicle sticks. Find an activity or area of information that interests him. There are multiple games for the computer and the various game consoles that require activity. The Nintendo Wii is a very active system, but watch him so he will not hurt himself. There are even programs that teach computer skills along with math.

A book that may interest him if he likes cats is "Samantha and Natasha: The Case of the Shining Ball" [ISBN: 0980054214]. When you read it, not only does it have a large number of pictures, but you can also create voices for the characters. Their attempts to solve the case before them will also instill morality, reason, and a strong understanding of friendship.

Carol Rice
Matthew Rice
Saniya LLC
Published: Samantha and Natasha: The Case of the Shining Ball [ISBN: 0980054214]
Published: Saniya: Pandora's Box [a D20 realm] [ISBN: 0980054206]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 30, 2008 7:45:44 AM PDT
Andrea Hatch says:
I have a daughter who will be starting Kindergarden this year, and up until a few months ago was very behind. She went to a special pre-school because of some speech delays due to constant ear infections. Instead of focusing on what she needed, they did not challenge the kids. While this was good for her speech, half way through the year I realized that she knew virtually none of her letters. I happen to have a good friend who taught early reading to children, both in pulic schools and private tutoring. She gave me a few tips that I thought I would pass on. First of all, like has been mentioned before, try to make it fun. If your son is anything like my daughter, if they realize you are trying to "make" them learn, you've lost them. Anyways, a few fun ideas. Make up some instant pudding, their favorite flavor, and set two sheets of wax paper on the table. spread a bit of pudding on them, and then the two of you can draw with your fingers in it. Be sure to have some fun and draw fun stuff to, because it will help with fine motor skills that at four should be developing quickkly. Then you can work in a few letters in between the fun and see if he can copy them. Also, you can put a few letters on construction paper on the floor, only 5 or so at a time, and ask him to step on the one you call out, like a game. The more you play you can switch up the letters and eventually he will learn more. One more thing, I would also heavily encourage you to place a large emphasis on the lowercase letters. They are more difficult for most kids to learn. Especially bpdq because they are so similar. I also thought I would recommend a film that my daughter loves that taught her a ton in a few weeks. She now knows all the letters and thier main sounds. It is by LeapFrog and is called The Letter Factory. It is basically the story of a young frog learning his letters. He goes into each room that a letter is made in. There is usually a cute thing that helps them remember, and a catchy song that my daugher can't stop singing. For example, in the a room all the A's are sitting there and a monster comes out and they all scream AHHHH! Then comes the song, and it's on to the next room. Anyways, hope a few of these ideas helps someone. Goodluck!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 11, 2008 12:40:42 PM PDT
M. Evans says:
To help him get used to classsroom situations, you may want to check out free storytime on your flip phone, iPod or iPhone -- or any device -- from or from iTunes (which just names Maggie Tales a top pick out of all iTunes!)
Developed by educators, they feature teachers reading picture books with music -- gets them ready for class and builds their love of reading by turning waiting time into storytime! Eight books -- all free -- are ready for you to download at Check it out -- for both of your sakes!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2008 2:56:36 AM PDT
A Nice Guy says:
Try the Penelope Dyan new early reader series. Kids love it. It grows with the child and the simole pictures are easy to identfy with and childlike an colorful. I believe there are abiout 16 books and they are based on the first primary word reading list.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2008 8:18:19 PM PDT
Little Lee says:
HI, Maryssa.
Kids develop skills at different rates...but to help him focus and not even realize he is learning, try manipulatives that seem more like a game with self-correcting features (ie. The Learning Palette available from Usborne Books: Also, Usborne has search books that help kids learn numbers and offers factual information in"bite-size" pieces while the wonderful, complex illustrations promote longer attention spans. And, one of the best and simplest things you can do is to READ ALOUD to him. Do a variety of subjects, including poetry and rhyming (phonics based and good ol' Dr.Seuss!). If he has an interest in one thing, search out every book you can, both fictional and non-fiction (if applicable).

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2008 11:49:13 PM PDT
B. Caruso says:
Young children (actually, I think it applies in most phases of life to some degree but is most concentrated in the experience of young kids) learn through play and everyone has a different learning style...
We were very frustrated in parenting our little boy when someone offered some sage advice- and that was to catch him doing good things, to praise him when appropriate, to stop focusing as much on the negative... I am a firm believer that the negative attitude or negative expectations of parents can result in a negative outcome... But positive support for what he does right may be what he needs to want to do more positive things...
At 4 I think many folks' expectations of what their kids should know are based on observation of other kids, TV, and what we knew at that age (from our best recollection)... Kids learn constantly- it's not always visible or easily logged as progress in knowing one's numbers...They are sponges and learn from everything- good and bad... And that includes "attitude" picked up at daycare....
If he was in daycare- you might want to look into more of a preschool setting. It helps kids get used to the social dynamic of school as well as many of the rules that he will need... As far as not thinking and getting frustrated- child thought processes are different from ours...Most 4 year old boys will not sit and formally learn (some will, some won't, what works depends on the kid and each one is different) or sit and do anything....

Also, there is nothing wrong with being concerned about any of the things he is doing. If you are concerned about the possibility of any developmental or neurological disorders then I encourage you to seek more information. I found that our general pediatrician brushes everything off to the point that two years later we are finally getting my son the help he needs for his developmental disorder. Most counties and states have early learning groups that may be able to answer some of your questions- if you google your state and "early intervention" that may help determine what department works with kids your son's age. They may be able to provide more direction or evaluation of concerns, or even just point you in the direction of resources that may be of help..... Not everything has a diagnosis or needs one- lots of this stuff sounds like regular kids stuff- but as a parent of a child who has multiple issues that affect not only his learning style but his ability to learn and use certain types of information and who was diagnosed fairly late - I do think there is something to be said about trusting your gut and digging deeper. Leave no stone unturned...This is your little boy, if you were not a good parent you would not be looking for help and answers, so ask questions and keep an open mind and work with it...

All of this parenting stuff is a journey, a long and sometimes difficult journey.

Oh and singing, dancing, and imagination are very important for little kids... Not everything, especially with a kid that age, is about books and memorization and testing or being able to spit information back or completing a puzzle... They need to be engaged to learn... Patience, with all of this, is definitely a virtue, and on some days can be hard to find in the required amount... My little boy has trouble sitting and doing anything, so I sit with him and give him reminders as to what he is supposed to be doing. He can't sit for long periods of time, so we take breaks when doing projects to move our bodies and get his "wiggles" out which is a huge help and important tool in him being able to focus. When I was a kid I could put a kid's craft kit together from start to finish without any help or reminders and my kid needs help every step of the way- from showing him how to do parts of it to must reminding him what he is doing... Some people just need smaller doses or different doses- of information- to make that information usable and to incorporate it into their lives...

As far as alphabet books- one of our favorites is "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom"
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Book & CD)

There is also a DVD-
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Your local library may be a good resource for more information on early childhood education and also for great kids DVD's on more academic subjects- but many incorporate music and singing and imagination and dancing as those help kids remember what they are learning - it helps with recall...

Good luck and giant hugs to you and your little-big guy!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2008 4:38:16 PM PDT
Mama Bear says:
I really just want to ditto what B. Caruso was saying. You know your child better than anyone. If you just need a little help with book selections, I think you are all set. Lots of good stuff has already been recommended. But if you suspect there is something more going on, it really doesn't hurt to look for help now. It just gets more difficult if you don't. And if it's nothing, your relieved and maybe you'll get some more good advice.

I've got two gifted readers, but surprise, one has a learning disability.

Here is what we did:
Read to them every night from birth. Both parents are equally involved.
We have a weekly Library ritual, sometimes we just play at the library. The kids chose 10 books each. Some books were never read.
We have a nightly reading ritual that starts an hour before bed time so that we can go from book to book to book. It's always the kids choice even if it was the same thing again and again, for years.
We didn't teach letters, but we did read books like Richard Scarry A to Z.
Infact, I don't ever remember trying to teach them to read, but both started to read at age 3. When they seemed ready, I bought phonics books in little box sets from Scholastic. Still their choice to read them or not.

Here is something else I know from experience. In some places, kids all come into Kindergarten reading or close to it. In other places, the kids come to school not knowing any of their alpha friends. We moved from a place where people camped out over night for pre-school spots to a place where day-care was something that you had to do but would never choose to do. There is no pre-school here. (It's a cultural thing.)

Kids are malleable, if not now then later. And if there is a problem it can be fixed or dealt with.


In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2008 2:44:10 PM PDT
S. Schutz says:
Have you tried Super Why? It's on PBS Kids. It uses super heros and other fun stuff to teach reading.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2008 10:06:05 PM PST
honeydew29 says:
Hi ,
sounds alot like my daughter ...she is 4 and up to 2 months ago didnt know any of her letters or numbers and like your son wanted to guess and refuses anyone to demonstarate , teach or actually sit down and go over anything .her nanny had no idea of her learning style because she is a very kinesthetic child .

I have been able to incorporate counting into her favorite games such as building forts -(count cushions) , collecting rocks , catching counting butterflies etc , and also covered shapes and letters using chalk on the cement and making hopscotch then adding concrete materials to represent each number .Everything has to be fun and she doesnt realise im trying to "teach" .By incorporating learning into everyday fun interests children like that are waay more receptive and love to learn.Also music and cooking .... huge!!

she is now ahead of average in 2 month perid so knowing what kind of learner your child is makes huuge difference , good luck !

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2008 6:37:42 AM PST
I'm a teacher and I'd like to offer some suggestions. First of all, turn off the television. That's not the way for a young child to learn. If he's getting frustrated and you're getting frustrated, try to ease up on him a little. He doesn't hate learning, he hates being tested and made to sit still and learn what you want him to learn when you want him to learn it. Learning, especially at this age, should be fun. Learning to read isn't all about learning the letters. Read him stories, start with very short ones if he can't sit still. Don't force it. Find one he enjoys. Let him learn that books are something to enjoy. Let him learn about the process of hearing a story from start to finish. He will start to anticipate what comes next in the story. He will begin to look forward to "reading" and will eventually want to be able to decipher the meaning of the words, but right now it is okay for him just to listen. His vocabulary will increase this way also. If you take a step back and watch and listen to him, you may see that he is doing a lot of thinking, not just memorizing letters and passing your tests. Allow him to build with blocks, play games with him, enjoy him, and sit with him and watch him play so he will want to sit longer.
I hope this helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2011 10:56:38 AM PST
Jerry Hupy says:
Rose... I am trying to find Carol
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Discussion in:  Early Reader forum
Participants:  60
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Initial post:  Mar 11, 2008
Latest post:  Feb 3, 2011

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