July 02, 2015

Q: My son is 33 months old. He still cannot say his ABC's, and has trouble counting to 10. Is this normal for his age? I feel like I've tried everything.

A: It's understandable that you want your toddler to be "ready for school", but developmentally he's not supposed to be focusing on academics just yet. Many children CAN count and recite their ABC's at this age -- but they're not truly using numbers or reading. Rather, they're reciting what they've heard much like they would repeat the words to a song they know (and like). Instead of focusing on specific tasks like the ABC's, have your pediatrician help you evaluate his overall development. Is he on track in general? If so, there's nothing to worry about. You can sing the ABC song (along with other fun songs) -- not specifically so he'll get a "jump start" on academics, but rather to have fun singing and playing with you. That's his job, developmentally, right now -- creative and imaginative play. "Pushing" academics won't get him ahead in school, and increases the chance that he'll "burn out" on academics later. Let him play and have fun with him instead now!

Answered by Dr. Heather Wittenberg