Signs of Dyslexia:  Kindergarten & First Grade


  • A history of reading problems in parents or siblings
  • Late talker (in sentences)
  • Difficulty learning the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, months of the year, home address and how to write name
  • Struggled with rhyming
  • Slow to develop fine motor skills (e.g., pencil grip, zippers, buttons, tie shoes)
  • Trouble associating letters with sounds, such as the letter b with the “b” sound
  • Trouble sounding out new words
  • Trouble following directions that have more than one step
  • Reads slowly
  • When reading aloud, your child repeats, substitutes, omits, or adds words (for example, will say “puppy” instead of the written word “dog” in an illustrated page with a dog shown)
  • Difficulty understanding what’s read
  • Difficulty remembering what’s read
  • Slow and difficult to read handwriting
  • Spells phonetically and inconsistently (e.g., wuz instead of “was”)
  • Complains about how hard reading is, or “disappears” when it is time to read
  • Is not interested in books about favorite character or topic
  • Extremely messy bedroom, backpack and desk

Who Can Help

  • Talk to your child’s teacher if you notice signs of difficulty with reading in your child.
  • List your observations and concerns beforehand.
  • In your conversation with your child’s teacher, discuss whether a referral should be made to the school’s reading specialist and/or a referral to the school psychologist for an evaluation.
  • Decide whether you should request a PPT.
  • Ask your child’s teacher to document your child’s progress throughout the school year.
  • Consider scheduling a meeting yourself with the reading specialist or school psychologist at your child’s school.
  • Make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to discuss your concerns.
  • Your pediatrician should check for problems with hearing and vision and may also refer your child to a child psychologist or speech pathologist for an evaluation.

Ways You Can Help Your Child Develop Reading Skills

  • Read, read read!!! Read to your child even without him/her asking you to read.
  • Ask your child questions every now and then while reading books to him/her to see if he/she is following the story.
  • Praise your child for asking to be read to.
  • Bring your child to the public library to choose books that you will read to him/her and that he/she will read silently or aloud to you.
  • Have your child read books aloud to you. Choose books that your child will experience success in reading.
  • Build a home library.
  • Work on spelling with your child.
  • Be a good role model for your child by reading often yourself.
  • Keep your home orderly and your child’s routines as structured as possible. You can write family rules on poster boards and tack them up where your child will see and read them.  Set up a chalkboard in your child’s room so he/she can practice drawing, tracing and writing.
  • Don’t discipline when dyslexia is to blame. There may be times when your child is frustrated and crabby when he/she is having difficulty with reading.  In such instances, discipline is not the best approach, but neither is dyslexia an excuse for bad behavior.  Establish rules, and discipline him/her gently if he/she doesn’t follow them.
  • Inform yourself. There are many resources online available to parents, some are listed on the other side of this page.
  • When discussing your child’s reading difficulties with him/her, focus on things your child knows he/she has trouble doing, like sounding out new words. Encourage your child by explaining that different children have different strengths and weaknesses, like riding a bike and sounding out new words, and that he/she may need more time to do certain things but that he/she is perfectly smart and his/her abilities will improve with practice.
  • Let your child know that you are working with his/her teacher and school to help him/her.

Useful Resources

International Dyslexia Association

National Center for Learning Disabilities

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

Two good books for parents are The Misunderstood Child by Larry B. Silver, M.D., and Learning to Learn by Carolyn Olivier and Rosemary F. Bowler.

Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.