Recognizing Reading Problems

Subscribe to Growing Readers!

Have Growing Readers delivered each month right to your inbox! (In English & Spanish) Sign up here >

Learning to read is a challenge for many kids, but most can become good readers if they get the right help. Parents have an important job in recognizing when a child is struggling and knowing how to find help.

What to look for:

  • Difficulty rhyming
  • Difficulty hearing individual sounds
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Difficulty re-telling a story
  • Struggles to sound out most words
  • Avoids reading aloud

What to do:

Step 1: Meet with your child's teacher

Gather examples of your child's work that reflects your concerns. Ask the teacher for his/her observations and discuss what can be done at school and at home. Stay in touch with the teacher to monitor your child's progress.

Step 2: Meet with the principal and/or reading specialist

If your child's performance does not improve, meet with other professionals in the building to see if there are classes, services, or other interventions available.

"Just being lazy"

It’s a myth that kids with learning and attention issues are “just being lazy.” While learning and attention issues may not be as visible as other health issues, they’re just as real.

Learn more about the one in five children who has a learning or attention issue from The State of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the 1 in 5.

Step 3: Get a referral for special education

If you have tried all interventions, request an evaluation. Talk to the principal to schedule this.

Step 4: Get an evaluation

A professional team — which may include a school psychologist, a speech-language pathologist, or a reading specialist — gives your child a series of tests and determines whether s/he is eligible to receive special education services.

Step 5: Determine eligibility

If your child is found eligible for services, you and the school develop your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP), a plan that sets goals based on your child's specific learning needs and offers special services like small group instruction, tutoring, and assistive technology. If your child is not eligible, stay involved and keep talking to the teacher about your child's progress. You can also turn to private tutoring for extra support.

  • Download this article as a PDF.

Recommended Resource from

For more information, take a look at the bilingual parent resources about reading issues from, a social impact organization dedicated to helping the 1 in 5 Americans who learn and think differently thrive at home, in school, at work, and in life.


You are welcome to print copies or republish materials for non-commercial use as long as credit is given to Colorín Colorado and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact [email protected].

More by this author

aft shield logo
nea logo

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.