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

I am currently taking on the role of “mommy” to two boys, 9 and 5. Their mother, my boyfriend’s ex-wife, is in prison for multiple counts against her through CPS and some felony charges. My boyfriend is in the Army, so he doesn’t get to spend a lot of time at home. Therefore I’m pretty much the primary caregiver. I get them to and from school, make their lunches make sure homework gets done, etc. Anyway, The 5 yr old started preschool this year. I am trying sooooo hard to help the teachers out bc he’s not “retaining” letters and numbers. He doesn’t even recognize all of the letters in his name. With my experience with children, parents would teach their children these things before they’re enrolled in school. Anyway, what can I do to help him learn? Another thing, he thinks its funny when I try to teach him like its a joke or something. I don’t know what to do. I’m so frustrated. Is this normal!?? Or should I get him tested to get more help? I’m open to any suggestions. TIA!!!


Get him tested for more help but be patient with him while you teach him . You can make a game out of it so it will be fun

Have you tried any games? My kids love flash cards. I would really talk to his teacher and see what they recommend. Those things are normal for them to learn during preschool.

I would get him tested. I have an 11 year old who is autistic. Although he may not look it, he definitely is. He has an IEP in school and a one on one aide (he’s had this since 3 years old), he STILL to this day can NOT write has name correctly.

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My son has adhd and a learning disability he didn’t learn these things until around 1st grade I only remember because my husband and I considered holding him back if he didn’t get it figured out by the end of the year. He’s now in sixth grade and isn’t totally where he should be but he can read for the most part and is doing very well. Some kiddos it just takes a little longer. Keep trying after school and see how it goes if you don’t see improvement within like I dunno id say a month or two maybe talk to your child teachers and see what they think and if they feel the same way you do maybe schedule a iep meeting from there.

My son is this way he’s in first grade this year he still doesn’t retain numbers I fought to get him tested in kindergarten I had him held back so he completed a second year of kindergarten and again I fought for testing they finally did and he tested for mild intellectual disability and now that he goes to a special classroom everyday for two hrs he’s starting to catch up to the other kids and brings home all As on his tests

You may suggest a testing for dyslexia. We had that same problem.


Flash cards are really helpful, also i heard is really awesome for helping with school stuff for little kids before school

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Does the 5 year old like watching tv? Leap frog letter factory and phonics farm helped my kids learn their letters and all the sounds they make. They have number ones too. Great use of screen time. Children also learn best in the morning

I used games with my son. Put a magnet on a string/stick(fishing pole style) and then put letters on floor with paper clips. Magnet sticks to paper clips. Let him go fishing. Deal is, hes only allowed to pick up the one u tell him too. Talk to the teachers before rushing to get him tested. U may piss off bf and/or baby mama.

figure out how he learns do it his way I had the same problem with my adopted daughter after I figured out how she learned I changed the way I taught her

Like others suggested, games. He is 5, most 5 year olds dont understand body language and that we are being serious, also they just dont have the same capacity to sit still. I would try making matching cards, maybe even make a “hide and seek” type game where you can post like 2 of all the lets in different locations and have him find the pairs. Kids will retain anything if its delivered in a fun form, that’s why kids will copy things they watch, and behave how they see other kids behaving. Dont make learning one big, long, sit down event. Just make little 5-10 minute games and maybe do one before dinner and one before they start bed time routine? That’s 20 minutes of learning and he would probably be better at learning the info that way. Also start small, teach 3 or 4 letters at a time!

Also maybe get his vision checked.

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My daughter went into kindergarten not knowing all of her letters. What they need the most is social skills. Anything on top of that in preschool is just extra.

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Sis, 1. You ain’t a step mother until you become wife cause anybody else can replace you in a deep breath!
2. This child needs counselling and help.


I understand the struggles my daughter was having issues with this aswell and when I tried to help with all the papers the school would give out she would laugh or even cry to get out of learning. It’s hard as a parent to see your little struggle. She went through kindergarten all the way and we decided to hold her back for a second year but in the meantime I made learning into games like matching the upper case and lower case together or even matching upper to upper, lower to lower, same idea with numbers also get your older child involved younger siblings will follow in the older ones footsteps. I just learned to make it fun and not like “work”. Good luck and just stay positive and keep up the good work.

Make up games? Get hula hoops like 3 to start lay them on floor and make him jump from each one counting. When outside make a tiny pile of leafs and count them. Flash cards… I even heard the website ABC MOUSE really does help. I don’t no bout it personally tho.

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Flash cards help , also help them make the numbers & letters out of felt or beans, buttons or Lego’s something that they can associate with creativity which stimulates their memory of each one! Break down their learning into smaller time restraints, maybe 10 or 20 mins. at a time for each step taking a small 5 minute break if they become restless. Anything that makes learning it fun,write a jingle & sing it…etc.

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Youtube homeschool pop, work books for age group for practice, read and practice

look up mathematics dyslexia . The tricks,lay out powered pudding, let child trace letters, numbers. They can lick fingers. Print out recipe for pretzels . Let child mix mesure and bake into numbers and letters. He can eat what he gets right. Empty egg cartons numbered inside. fill with marbles . you can teach adding,skip counting. Old calendar cut up to play with numbers. Tape measure are fun to measure . It may sound dumb but crawling help the brain.