4-years-old learning

How To Deal With a 4-Year-Old Who Doesn’t Want To Learn?

“My 4-year-old doesn’t want to learn?” 

Typically, 4-year-olds are learning machines. They will just want to know each and everything around them. Kids are curious at this age and love to explore. 

But you are here, but your 4-year-old doesn’t seem interested in learning new things. Or you can say that he just can’t focus and gets irritated very soon if he can’t accomplish something. 

This article will discuss what we should expect from a 4-year-old. How do kids love learning? We will figure out why your 4-year-old might not be interested in learning. 

What children learning Is about?

Most people will say “learning” when referring to academic learning, like learning languages and maths. However, it is not only about them. 

Kids are learning to figure out their emotions and society. They are still figuring out how to behave in response to an event. They are learning to use their body parts properly. 

These learnings are way more important than academic learning at this age. But it doesn’t mean that learning to write and recognize ABC and 123 is unimportant. On the contrary, this is also an important milestone you are looking for your child to hit. 

However, the word “learning” is classified as academic learning; we will discuss it in this article.

What should a 4-year-old already know academically, and what should he learn?

Let’s start with what to expect from a 4-years-old in terms of academic learning. Of course, you can’t expect him to count to 100 or start adding or subtracting.

You must first understand what the abilities of children of this age are. 

Given that every kid learns at his own pace, you cannot predict what a child can do when he is four and three months old. Some kids will learn the school subjects faster, while some will develop their game and physical skills first and then move to the ABCs’.

Typically, a 4-years-old can:

  • Recognize and count to numbers up to 20
  • recognize the sounds and shapes of ABCs
  • Distinguish between 4-8 shapes 
  • Recognizes 10-20 colors
  • Understand the concepts of time and days.
  • Differentiate between things on the bases of size, shape, and colors. 
  • Cut basic shapes with scissors like a straight line, a curved line, or a square.  
  • Can write alphabets and numbers (with or without accuracy)
  • Can write their names if they are taught
  • Trace all shapes and lines
  • Make a drawing of a person (very random and inaccurate)
  • Be able to make and tell a story
  • Many (not all) 4-year-olds will try to spell using the sounds of the alphabet, but most will not succeed. 

Related article: How to teach a 4-years-old to cut with scissors?

4-year-old learning

How do kids learn at this age?

Now, you know what you should expect; now is the time to understand that little kids don’t learn the way older kids do. 

Older children learn actively; they know that now they are going to “learn” when they sit at the study desk. 

While the little ones don’t actually know that they are learning, they think they are having fun and finding answers to their questions. In addition, they are trying to become independent, which leads them to learn new skills.

A 4-years-old doesn’t understand the importance of learning ABC. How will they know that they will use these letters in making words and then sentences and then use these sentences to write their science assignment? 


They will learn the ABCs when they will have fun doing this when they think that this is a game where they have to match the dots to make an A. Then they will love it when they are going to dance to the ABC song or sing it on a karaoke set. 

So, do you get the idea why your 4-year-old might not be interested in learning? Then, we’ll talk more in detail.

Figure out if he is not interested in learning or if he cannot learn.

Before we head on to all the possible reasons why a 4-year-old is not interested in learning, first, we need to figure out:

“If your 4-years-old is not interested or if he “CANNOT” learn.”

There are many cases where parents misinterpret their child, work on the problems that never existed, and ignore the underlying issue. 

Learning disabilities are real. 

Kids with problems like dyslexia and ADHD will have problem learning. Parents may think he is not interested, but he is not getting it. 

We’ll talk more about when learning disabilities at the end of this article. 

Why does your 4-year-old not want to learn?

If your 4-years-old is not interested in learning, there can be the following possible reasons. 

1- Not fun:

As an experienced mom of a 4-years-old, I can say that these preschoolers are all about fun. Give them joy, and they are all yours. 

As I said earlier, kids don’t understand why they are learning, so you have to give them something they are willing to do. 

“Come finish your homework; you have to submit it tomorrow.” it may not work!

“Let’s play the sticker game. One sticker prize with every letter written on the sandbox.” It May works for most kids!

“Let’s make an A with the play dough.” It may also work!

It’s just an example; you know what catches your kid’s attention. So do whatever your child thinks is fun. 

2- Pressure:

A child’s brain is not built to handle pressure. 

The parent may unconsciously pressurize the child when he doesn’t learn a new letter. Mostly it happens because of unrealistic expectations. 

For example, yelling at the child for not memorizing or recognizing a letter is like putting pressure on him to learn. And it is human nature to run away from stress. 

Not only yelling but being sad or angry when your kid can’t learn may also cause the same problem. 

Moreover, “comparison” with other kids, “look! How your big brother is learning very fast, you should also do this.” PRESSURE!

So, when your little one feels the pressure, he will try to run away to the things where he could have fun, or he will simply say “no.”

3- Tired:

Kids’ who are over tired will have difficulty learning. Do I need to explain? Why? You know it!

If your 4-year-old is not getting enough sleep and rest, he will be tired and will not want to learn. 

Similarly, a lack of proper nutrition and physical activity will cause your kid to be lazy. 

4- Too much screen:

Screen time will cause the brain to become tired. If your 4-year-old is watching the screen for a long time, he may have trouble learning.

5- The normal behavior of a 4-year-old:

Typically, 4-year-olds develop the behavior of “don’t instruct me; I know it all.” As a result, they are likely to resist the fact that they have to listen to someone to learn. 

The sense of independence makes them hard to teach sometimes. 

Even though they are not yet grown up, they think they are. 

However, every child is different. For example, some kids may not have problems with someone trying to instruct them repeatedly. 

6- Interested in something else:

4-year-olds have so many things to learn. There is much more than academic learning. They are learning so many skills at the same time, including some of the essential life skills. 

Your kid may become more interested in learning to cycle writing ABC. 

Look for what catches his interest and use his interest to make him learn the things you want him to know. 

7- Learns differently or is not ready yet:

Every child is different. Some will learn earlier than others. Your child may not be ready yet. Once he starts taking an interest in learning, he will do it more quickly. 

Moreover, some kids do not like learning with other kids. They prefer to learn alone in their own comfort zone. 

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How do you get a 4-year-old to learn?

These were the possible reasons why your 4-year-old might not want to learn. So let’s have a look at how to make him willing to focus on learning.

4-year-old learning

1- Make it fun, and do not pressurize:

The first and most effective way to make your 4-years-old want to learn is to make the learning fun. 

Play learning games. For example, let’s do ten jumps. Ask him to jump, and you count in a loud voice. Then you jump and ask him to count. 

Roll play with a doll who loves to read the book.

Get the learning toys or activity desk that will make your 4-year-old learn the lessons without making them think they are learning. 

For example, VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk Deluxe. It has five interactive pages,100+ vocabulary words, 20+ activities, and 20+ songs. The desk will help your 4-years-old to learn the alphabets and their sounds, numbers and counting, body parts, fruit names, and much more.

Here’s the list of some toys that will help them learn the alphabet: 

And here’s the list of toys that will help them learn to count:

2- Give him choices:

Understand that your 4-years-old wants to be independent. Give him the choices and let him decide. 

For example, “do you want to count our steps or make a C on the sandbox.”

“Will you write A or1 first?”

“What do you want? Solve the alphabet puzzle or do coloring?

These are just examples. Figure out what works for your kid. 

3- Start slow:

When your 4-year-old doesn’t love learning, you shouldn’t push him to do it all in one day. 

Start with only 5-10 minutes. Or start with only one alphabet or a number and then gradually move on. 

Typically, 4-year-olds will learn through play, but when it comes to schoolwork, they have to sit down to finish a specific task, whether it’s fun or not.  

You cannot choose to offer any other activity. So, the best thing is to start slowly. 

Set a 5-minutes timer and offer a reward. 

“If you will trace the letters before the time runs out, you’ll get a happy sticker (or whatever he likes).”

Gradually increase the timer. 

Make it a game for him where he earns the reward for finishing a task on time. 

4- Spend more time with the child and see what his interests are:

Every child has unique attractions. Spend more time with your child and determine his extreme areas of interest. Then use his interest to make him learn things. 

For example, if your little girl loves to play shop, get into her shop and ask her to give you ten eggs (or whatever), then count with her. Or maybe you can hand over a chit where you write “8” and ask her to give you this many eggs. 

Another example is if your 4-years-old love to ride a bicycle, make him ride to make shapes. For example, use chalk to make an alphabet on the ground and ask the kid to ride the bike on the “D.” 

You can help him recognize and sound the letters and numbers. 

5- Try other ways of learning:

There are four ways to learn:

  1. Visual learning; learning through seeing
  2. Auditory learning; learning through hearing
  3. Tactile learning; learn through touch
  4. Kinesthetic learning; learning through motion or by doing something

Figure out what works for your child. Other children might enjoy learning when they see a letter written on paper and have to trace it.

While your kid may love to learn through touch, for example, foam alphabets and numbers. 

Give him an adhesive A and ask him to stick it with anything that starts with the sound of A. 

6- Use screen time to learn, like apps, games, and videos:

If your child absorbs everything he sees on the screen, he uses his screen time to make him learn. Many educational apps are also fun for kids. 

For example, the ABC mouse is a great learning resource for little kids. 

Amazon Kids+ also has a huge collection of learning apps. 

7- Ignore “not learning” and reward for “learning.”:

If your child is not learning, try to ignore this behavior instead of pushing him. As pushing will do more harm than good. 

But when he does something that improves his learning, reward him immediately to bring a positive connection with learning. 

By doing this, the kid will gradually start taking an interest in learning. 

8- Talk to the teacher:

Talk to the teacher and ask about your kid’s behavior in class. What activities does he like? How he behaves in class? Does he want to learn when sitting with other kids?

Also, discuss with the teacher your concerns. 

Teachers are exceptionally trained to deal with all kinds of kids’ personalities. This is part of their daily schedule. She must come up with an excellent idea for getting your four years old take an interest in learning.

4-year-olds with teacher

9- Give him more time:

Some kids get ready to learn later than others. Be easy on your child and give him time to figure out what’s happening. He will eventually get on the track. 

When to worry about a learning disability?

Now, let’s talk about the problems like disabilities that give a child a hard time learning something. 

Learning disabilities like dyslexia and dyscalculia may make it hard for the child to recognize and memorize numbers and letters. 

Moreover, autism and ADHD may also cause problems. Although these two are not learning disabilities, they can cause problems that eventually result in losing the ability to learn. 

For example, an ADHD child has difficulty focusing on something, so he may not sit down to finish the school work, or he may not be patient enough to focus and learn a new letter. 

Many learning disabilities are related to language development. For example, if a kid is unable to understand what the other person is saying or is having difficulty communicating his problem, it can make him unable to learn. 

If you think your little one is facing a disability, it’s best to talk to a specialist. 

The ultimate solution:

The best thing you can do as a parent is to encourage the child to communicate where he is getting the problem. 

Make use of the bedtime. When everything is quiet, lay down with the child and tell him a soothing bedtime story where a mother and the child are very close and tell everything to each other. 

After that, ask the child what’s the problem. 

“Why do you not want to learn? Is there any problem?”, “What will make you learn? What do you want?”

Most 4-year-olds can communicate, but if your child can’t, help him.

Instead of asking him to find words, give him words.

“Do you not find fun in learning?”, “Do you love playing games more?”

After knowing what your child wants, tell him, “we will use this way of learning to write ABC; in the way you want.”

Knowing your child’s interests will help you get him to learn. 

Bottom line:

Instead of checking the progress with a public calendar, check the individual growth of your kid. What he knew one month ago, and what he knows now?

Every child grows and learns at their own pace. Figure out where you guys are lacking. What is the interest area of your child?

Be easy on him and use “his ways” to make him learn. Your 4-year-old will eventually take an interest in learning. 

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