Grade School Signs

Kindergarten and First Grade


  • Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page–will say “puppy” instead of the written word “dog” on an illustrated page with a dog shown.
  • Does not understand that words come apart
  • Complains about how hard reading is, or “disappearing” when it is time to read
  • A history of reading problems in parents or siblings.


  • Cannot sound out even simple words like cat, map, nap.
  • Does not associate letters with sounds, such as the letter b with the “b” sound

Activities and Life

  • If you ask for a spoon, your child hands you a fork.
  • Struggles with learning and naming numbers and the alphabet.
  • Difficulty attaching labels to objects and symbols.
  • Difficulty following directions- you ask your child to get his coat and shoes and he only brings a coat.
  • Trouble following lengthy directions, may only hear the first and the last part.
  • Needs frequents reminders to follow rules and routines

Second Grade and Up Reading


  • Very slow in acquiring reading skills. Reading is slow and awkward
  • Trouble reading unfamiliar words, often making wild guesses because he cannot sound out the word
  • Doesn’t seem to have a strategy for reading new words
  • Avoids reading out loud


  • Searches for a specific word and ends up using vague language, such as “stuff” or “thing” a lot, without naming the object?
  • Pauses, hesitates, and/or uses lots of “umm’s” when speaking
  • Confuses words that sound alike, such as saying “tornado” for “volcano,” substituting “lotion” for “ocean”
  • Mispronunciation of long, unfamiliar, or complicated words
  • Seems to need extra time to respond to questions.

Activities and Life

  • Trouble with remembering dates, names, telephone numbers, random lists
  • Has trouble finishing tests on time
  • Extreme difficulty learning a foreign language

  • Messy handwriting

  • Low self-esteem that may not be immediately visible

Source: Overcoming Dyslexia © Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D.


  • Curiosity

  • A great imagination

  • The ability to figure things out

  • Eager embrace of new ideas

  • Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to him


  • Excellent thinking skills: conceptualization, reasoning, imagination, abstraction

  • Learning that is accomplished best through meaning rather than rote memorization

  • Ability to get the “big picture”

  • A high level of understanding of what is read to him

  • The ability to read and to understand at a high level highly practiced words in a special area of interest; for example, words related to a hobby

  • Excellence in areas other than reading, such as math, computers, and visual arts, or in subjects, such as philosophy, biology, social studies, and creative writing

  • An advanced listening vocabulary.