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indigomama

5 year old cannot write numbers or letters

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I have taught 4 children to read and write, but I feel at a loss with my youngest. She turned 5 in September. She cannot write any letters or numbers. We are using singapore for math and HWOT for writing practice, but she still cannot make legible numbers or letters. She's also having a hard time recognizing them. She can count objects just fine, but cannot remember 1-10 or all of her ABCs. 

 

Do I put the workbooks away and try something else?

Are these signs of a learning disability?

 

 

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I would put them away she's probably just not ready. Maybe work on fine motor skills (there a re lot of activities listed on pinterest or a search online) and try again in a few months. She is still a very young 5 year old so maybe its just that, if its still a concern then you could try getting her tested for a learning disability.

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She may have developmental vision issues (you might consider getting a vision evaluation through a developmental optometrist).   Has she ever had a vision screening?  A standard screening through a pediatrician rarely catches develomental vision issues since they are not based on visual acuity.   She could have dysgraphia (which can have many causes).  She could just be slow to mature (although having such profound issues at 5 is unusual).  How is her coordination overall?  Does she have any other fine motor skills issues?  Gross motor skills issues?  

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She may have developmental vision issues (you might consider getting a vision evaluation through a developmental optometrist).   Has she ever had a vision screening?  A standard screening through a pediatrician rarely catches develomental vision issues since they are not based on visual acuity.   She could have dysgraphia (which can have many causes).  She could just be slow to mature (although having such profound issues at 5 is unusual).  How is her coordination overall?  Does she have any other fine motor skills issues?  Gross motor skills issues?  

 

 

We have not had her vision checked. No developmental optomertrist near us, I can take her to the regular eye doctor, though she doesn't act like she has vision problems. 

 

Her fine and gross motor skills are fine: she can put together puzzles, cut fairly well with scissors, trace a line, she just can't write letters or numbers. 

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We have not had her vision checked. No developmental optomertrist near us, I can take her to the regular eye doctor, though she doesn't act like she has vision problems. 

 

Her fine and gross motor skills are fine: she can put together puzzles, cut fairly well with scissors, trace a line, she just can't write letters or numbers. 

FWIW, my son has better than 20/20 visual acuity.  He passed every normal eye exam with flying colors.  He did not seem to have vision issues, although he had other issues that in hindsight I realize were developmental vision related.  We finally had him assessed through a COVD and sure enough he has pretty profound developmental vision issues.  His visual acuity is still more than perfect and he still passes normal vision screenings with flying colors.

 

I agree with Rosie, can she trace the letters and numbers, even if she cannot write them on her own?

 

At some point you might want to look into an OT/PT evaluation if she still struggles.

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We have not had her vision checked. No developmental optomertrist near us, I can take her to the regular eye doctor, though she doesn't act like she has vision problems.

 

All children should see an eye doctor every single year. Most children who need glasses or have other issues "don't act like they have vision problems" - or if they do, it's subtle enough that the parents don't catch it.

 

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Can she trace the numbers and letters? Try various sizes and see if there's a size she's more comfortable with.

 

Yes, she can trace them, not perfectly, but pretty well. 

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Work on a letter of the week and a number of the week. Have her practice writing just that letter and just that number 3 times each day. Let her put a star, smiley face, or sticker above the one she thinks she did the best each day. If you think another one was better, you can say something like, "That one is nice. I also like how nicely this one sits on the line," or "how straight you drew the line for this one" or " how nicely curved this one is." Model how to make each one daily if needed. You can let her practice with a finger in sand or cornmeal or shaving cream etc... to, to work on formation until its easier.

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I seriously thought this post was a joke at first! Mama, do NOT worry about a kid that young not doing letters or numbers yet. That is a very complex skill and some Plain. Aren't. Ready.

 

If this was a seven or eight year old? I'd be more concerned. But the multiple steps of understanding the quantity or value, the motions of tracing or copying the strokes, AND pencil grip? It's more unusual your other kids were all ready at the beginning of kinder age than that one kid wasn't, truthfully.

 

I'd be working on basic pencil skills - lines left to right, finger tracing shapes in shaving cream or sand, lots of clay and hand putty work, mazes, basic cutting and pasting activities, lacing toys, beading, etc. Set aside more formal handwriting for a year and try again later.

 

My son was in this exact position last year. It turns out he just had less fine motor control than his sisters at the same age and the work was too specific and demanding for his maturity. We backed off and did a lot more of the readiness activities I listed above and tried again half a year later. All the sudden he COULD do it and with much less adieu, but his confidence benefitted so much from tracing and mazes and fun activities working with strokes than me bludgeoning him with a workbook he wasn't developmentally ready to handle.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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I seriously thought this post was a joke at first! Mama, do NOT worry about a kid that young not doing letters or numbers yet. That is a very complex skill and some Plain. Aren't. Ready.

 

If this was a seven or eight year old? I'd be more concerned. But the multiple steps of understanding the quantity or value, the motions of tracing or copying the strokes, AND pencil grip? It's more unusual your other kids were all ready at the beginning of kinder age than that one kid wasn't, truthfully.

 

I'd be working on basic pencil skills - lines left to right, finger tracing shapes in shaving cream or sand, lots of clay and hand putty work, mazes, basic cutting and pasting activities, lacing toys, beading, etc. Set aside more formal handwriting for a year and try again later.

 

My son was in this exact position last year. It turns out he just had less fine motor control than his sisters at the same age and the work was too specific and demanding for his maturity. We backed off and did a lot more of the readiness activities I listed above and tried again half a year later. All the sudden he COULD do it and with much less adieu, but his confidence benefitted so much from tracing and mazes and fun activities working with strokes than me bludgeoning him with a workbook he wasn't developmentally ready to handle.

 

Thank you for your reply. I know tone is hard to read on the internet, I'm not panicked, but yes, I was concerned. But, your and the post above yours have helped to calm me down :) We'll back up and work on some more pre-writing skills. 

 

I've been looking up some activites that move away from so much paper and pencil and will still engage her and hopefully help her progress.

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My kiddos had dreadful handwriting when we first started. I bought a set of stamps that had letters and numbers so they could still work through worksheets.

 

I had them practice handwriting during the handwriting portion of their lesson but let math be math and phonics be phonics and eventually they were able to write cross curricula.

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Don Potter starts with gross motor letter writing in the air, super big letters air writing, before moving to large font on chalkboard.  You could move from air writing to large letter writing in sand tray or white board.

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