My 4-year-old daughter doesn’t seem interested in learning. I have tried using fun books, and we have the PowerTouch Books, but she still doesn’t know how to count or say the alphabet. How do I get her to want to learn? I don’t want to push her, but she should be further along, right?
The skills you are trying to teach her don’t come easily to 4-year-olds, even bright ones who show advanced language development. She can demonstrate that she wants to learn in many ways, not merely through acquiring pre-academic skills like saying the alphabet or counting.
I suggest that you let her take the lead in teaching/learning activities she enjoys. In other words, if she asks you to read one of the PowerTouch books with her, by all means do so. However, avoid the temptation to pick up one and call out, “Time to look at a PowerBook now.” Read to her every day, and resist the temptation to point and ask, “What is that letter?” If she points and asks, by all means tell her. But don’t turn reading into a drill session. Ask little questions about the book after you finish. Or ask questions along the way, perhaps asking her to predict what is going to happen next. A weekly trip to the library to check out books is one of the best teaching strategies you could arrange for her.
Since she resists counting, concentrate on size relations. Break a cookie into two pieces and ask, “Which piece is bigger?” Chances are she’ll get it right; if she doesn’t, ask her to choose which piece she wants. I guarantee you she will choose the larger piece, and you can then say, “Hey, you took the big one. I’ve got the little one.”
A calendar ritual is also helpful in getting children to pay attention to numbers. If you have an old-fashioned wall calendar in the house, hold her up and let her look at it each day and perhaps mark an “X” through the date. You can then say, “We use a different number for every day of the month. When we get here to 30, we start over with one.” When you are filling your petrololine tank, point to the numbers that indicate the price of the fuel and read them, just as though you are commenting on the price of petrololine to another adult. And perhaps let her hold the receipt and tell her, “Those numbers tell me how much the petrol cost.” She will catch on in time.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.