How to Identify Reading Difficulties

Identifying Reading Difficulties

There is a lot of emphasis on reading in early academia. In many instances, how well a child learns to read and continues to grow as a reader has a huge impact on their academic future as well as their future as readers. For kids who do not read well or have a hard time learning to read, their academic futures can be cloudy. According to many studies (Francis, Shaywitz, Stuebing, Shaywitz, & Fletcher, 1996; Torgesen & Burgess, 1998), many children who have difficulties reading early on and get off to a bad start rarely ever end up catching up. While part of the problem can be related to access to resources like books or guidance, many kids suffer from learning disabilities and reading problems that go undiagnosed.

Waiting too long to diagnose a reading disability can make it incredibly difficult to treat and it can make catching up even more of a challenge as well. This is why it is so important that parents are aware of the early signs so they can get their child the help they need from the beginning.

Here are some universal signs of reading difficulties that parents should be able to identify:


If you notice that your child continually has trouble reading books pitched to their age and reading level, this could be one of the first signs. Listen to your child read aloud. Does it sound like they are improving? Do they struggle with the same words over and over? This can be difficult for children, especially since it is also often discouraging and they may not want to continue reading at all.

Frequent Errors

Mispronouncing a new word or sounding out a long word is one thing, but when kids frequently add words, delete words, or change words when reading, then there may be another issue at hand. Some things you may notice include the following:

  • Adds words – The tall lamp à then the tall and lamp
  • Replaces words – He rubbed his eyes à he rumbled his eyes
  • Deletes words – It’s just a possum à It’s a possum

Staying on Task

If you notice your child frequently losing their place, losing sight of the word or sentence they are reading, skipping lines or jumbling sentences, then you should pay attention and take note. This can not only hinder their ability to comprehend the content of the story they are reading, but it may also have implications regarding the way they process information as well.

No Retention

After reading, kids should be able to summarize what happened in even the most concise terms, but if your child is not retaining any information from the book or even the passage they just read, then they may be expending most of their energy on the act of reading the words and letters without being able to retain what those words mean and the sentences they make up.


Another big indicator of reading problems is avoiding reading all together. Kids may not want to read or show an interest in reading if it is too much of a challenge for them. It may not only be difficult but embarrassing, too.

If you ever have any concerns about your child’s reading and their ability to read and retain information, look into meeting with an educational professional or a speech pathologist to get to the bottom of the issue and get your child the care they need early on.