How to Spot Early Signs of a Reading Problem

What to look for in a child who's having trouble reading

If your child is having trouble reading words and writing in kindergarten and first grade, it may just mean reading hasn’t “clicked” yet. But early intervention is essential to helping a child who may be having reading problems, such as dyslexia. If you see some of these signs, contact your child’s teacher or pediatrician.

Your child may have a reading problem if she exhibits some of the following signs.

By kindergarten:

  • Has trouble remembering names and sounds of letters
  • Has difficulty rhyming
  • Is slow to learn new words

By 1st and 2nd grades:

  • Is unable to blend sounds together to say words
  • Continues to reverse letters–such as writing "d" for "b" or "u" for "n"
  • Reverses words, such as "nap" for "pan"
  • Is reluctant to read, or read aloud
  • Is falling way behind her classmates

By 3rd grade:

  • Withdraws
  • Says she doesn’t like school
  • Continues to have trouble reading
  • Displays behavioral problems
  • Has trouble sitting still and paying attention

Keep in mind that many children reverse words, especially before the age of 7. But if you see a number of these signs in your grade-schooler—and particularly if you have a history of dyslexia in your family—try to have your child evaluated sooner rather than later.

With early intervention, it's likely that your child will master early-reading books, and even move confidently to chapter books.

Be encouraging and supportive, and if your child expresses anxiety or frustration, let him know that these feelings—and the stumbling blocks that are preventing him from reading more fluidly—will eventually be behind him. When you are relaxed and cheerful, your attitude will help your child feel better about his reading skills.

Continue to read together at bedtime, and whenever you have some quiet moments together, and let him choose books that he is interested in reading.