Colorin Colorado: Helping children read... and succeed!
A bilingual site for families and educators of English language learners
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Where to Go for Help

By: Colorín Colorado (2007)

What should you do if you think your child is having a reading problem?

Sometimes, children just need more time. But sometimes they need extra help from an expert.

Trust your instincts! You know your child best. If you think there's a problem, there probably is.

If you're not comfortable with English, please ask someone to interpret for you or bring a friend or relative to do so.

Find out if your child needs extra help

If your child is a preschooler, call Child Find

Call the main office of your local school district and ask for the "Child Find" program. This federal program requires school districts to give preschoolers a comprehensive assessment for free if a problem is suspected.

If your child is in school, talk to his or her teacher

Ask questions such as — Do you think my child is having trouble with reading? What specific trouble is my child having? What can I do to help my child at home? What can be done to help my child in class? Which reading group is my child in? How is he or she doing compared to other students?

Talk to your child's doctor

Make sure your child's doctor or other health care provider checks your child for hearing or vision problems. Sometimes reading problems are caused by problems with seeing or hearing.

Get extra help for your child

If you think your child needs extra help, don't give up. Try not to assume — or let others assume — that your child is having difficulty only because he or she is learning two languages. Unless you keep asking for it, your child may not receive the help he or she needs.

Request an evaluation

Write a short letter to your child's school principal to request that the school's specialists review your child's progress. This request will go to a "screening committee" at the school. This group decides whether a child should be checked for speech or language delays, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, or other conditions that may be affecting how your child learns. For more information (in Spanish) visit LD OnLine.

Make sure your child is evaluated in his or her strongest language

It is important that your child is tested in the language he or she knows best. The purpose of such testing is to find out whether a child's reading problem is due to 1) second language learning, 2) language delay, or 3) a learning disability.

If it is determined that your child needs extra help, the school may be able to provide this either in the child's regular classroom or with a specialist.

Consider an evaluation from outside the school

If the school will not evaluate your child, or they evaluate your child and you think you need a second opinion, consider going to a specialist outside of the school. They can do an "independent education evaluation."

Contact your local Parent Training and Information Center or a Parent Resource Center. These centers can advise you on how to get a free "independent education evaluation." They will also have lists of low-cost, Spanish-speaking professionals who may be able to help. Click here to find the centers in your state.

Inform yourself of your options

There is a law — the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — that ensures that all children with special needs will receive special school services for free. See LD OnLine for a summary of your rights under this law.

You can also click here for information in Spanish from the PACER center.

In addition, see Colorín Colorado's Resources section for links to organizations that may be able to help you and your child.

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