As every child is unique and learns in a different way, it may be difficult for parents and teachers to tell if a child has a learning difference, like dyslexia, or if they just need to be taught in an individualized way. Parents and teachers in elementary schools must recognize the important signs of dyslexia so that students don’t fall behind in essential milestones like reading and writing. Read below to learn about some of the common signs of dyslexia in elementary school students and what to do if your child exhibits these signs.
Consistent Reading and Spelling Errors
Consistent reading and spelling errors are two of the most noticeable and widely known signs of dyslexia in children. Specifically, different types of errors exist that are common in dyslexic students as they are learning to read and write. Letter reversals (d for b), word reversals (tip for pit), inversions (m for w or u for n), transpositions (felt and left), and substitutions (house and home) are all examples of common reading and spelling errors that children with dyslexia may make. Mistakes like these are common as young learners master language skills, but dyslexic students often make these errors consistently as they advance in school.
Difficulty Decoding Single Words
Many dyslexic children use context clues to guess at the words they are reading, and decoding single words requires a mastery of phonics that children with dyslexia may not have. Difficulty reading words in isolation can be a sign of dyslexia, especially if students have not mastered phonics or phonemic awareness.
Reading Below Grade Level
Although reading below grade level is a general sign that can be related to numerous environmental, behavioral, or learning challenges, dyslexic learners may not be able to read at their grade level without a diagnosis and targeted accommodations and interventions. This sign of dyslexia becomes more noticeable as students progress through elementary school and may be exacerbated by the learning challenges faced by dyslexic students.
May Be Slow to Learn New Skills
Students with undiagnosed dyslexia may also have trouble learning and mastering new skills, possibly due to trouble understanding a subject or lack of confidence. For all classes in elementary school, students must develop an understanding of a topic in order to master it. Dyslexic readers often rely heavily on memorizing without fully understanding a subject, as they often do with reading. Hesitancy to learn new things or a tendency to use memorized skills in unrelated areas may be a sign of dyslexia in elementary school.
Using an Awkward Pencil Grip
Just because a student has an unusual pencil grip does not mean they have dyslexia, but this sign, in combination with other learning or behavioral struggles, could be a sign of dyslexia. Examples of awkward pencil grips include using a fist or using the thumb hooked over other fingers to write.
Trouble Learning to Tell Time
Analog clocks may not be as widely used today, but it is still an essential skill for elementary school students to learn to tell time. This skill can be a challenge for dyslexic students to master, however, and may be a sign of dyslexia in children. In addition to having trouble learning to tell time, children with dyslexia may also have difficulty managing their time and being on time for different activities.
This list does not include all possible signs of dyslexia in children and does not replace the advice or diagnoses of medical professionals. If your child exhibits any of these behaviors, it may be time to get him or her tested for dyslexia by an educational psychologist or another qualified professional.
The Dyslexia Resource is a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading awareness and equipping teachers, tutors, and parents with essential resources to better serve the dyslexic community. Launched in partnership with The Schenck School, The Dyslexia Resource offers educational courses for teachers and engaging community outreach programs. Join us at our next community event or conference as we work to empower dyslexic learners!