With the abundance of early childhood education programs currently available, it’s becoming more and more common to evaluate a child’s capacity for learning at an earlier age. The benefit is that parents and teachers can understand much sooner what a child’s strengths and weaknesses are – and can select a program that fits the child’s unique gifts and areas of need.
If your child has a learning difference like dyslexia or ADHD, there are options that will help him or her acquire a strong groundwork for a successful academic career. Similarly, there are reliable signs to watch for which can indicate that a child’s classroom difficulties may be due to a learning difference, according to Tony Kemper at The de Paul School.
Does your young child struggle with attention?
Those classic signs such as not paying attention, not following directions or failing to engage in classroom activity are still relevant when it comes to indicating a learning challenge. If your child regularly gets distracted and has trouble following protocol during the early elementary years, it could indicate a problem.
Does your young child count and handle simple numbers?
Counting is one of those skills that should come fairly easily to most young children. According to Kemper, counting accurately and fluently to 20 and knowing what numbers come before and after another number are important skills a child should have upon exiting kindergarten. Forming numerals and understanding the value ascribed to each symbol are also important. For example, if you pull four apples out of a brown bag, your child should be able to count them, understand that there are four apples, and assign the appropriate numeral.
Does your young child respond well to letters and words?
Just as with numbers, your child should have a firm grasp on the alphabet by the time he or she exits kindergarten. He or she should know the proper sequence of the alphabet and also be able to recognize letters individually. The child should be successful in matching letters with their respective sounds.
Does your young child struggle with fine motor skills?
We might not think about fine motor skills – things like holding a colored pencil or being able to cut or fold in a straight line – as being connected to learning challenges, but they are, according to Kemper. Artistic projects, in which child has to perform tasks such as using a pair of scissors or tracing, can help parents and teachers discern a child’s motor skill development.
Does your elementary child display a difficulty with reading or writing?
By the middle of second grade, reading should be comfortable and fluent for children, according to Kemper. Parents and teachers should take notice when a child’s reading sounds halting or inconsistent in rate. When children have difficulty recognizing common and high frequency words, this can lead to frustration and their avoidance of books and reading altogether.
“Reading is cyclical,” he pointed out. “If you enjoy it, you read more. And the more a child reads, the better he or she is likely to become.”
Writing, which goes hand-in-hand with reading, is important as well.