Does your child need reading help?
Recognise the early signs to get your little reader up to speed.
(Getty Images)
As a parent, you may be the first person in your child's life to recognise a reading problem.  This is especially true of the preschool years and there are many early signs of a future reading difficulty. 

What to look out for
  • Difficulty manipulating sounds in words (can be seen from age 3 to 4).  Your child may struggle with rhyming, word games or recognising words that start with the same sound.
  • Repeated ear infections as a toddler may eventually lead to trouble with reading later on.
  • Speech delays, articulation problems or late to talk.
  • Trouble making associations between sounds and letters (Grade 1 and higher). For example, ‘a’ is for ‘apple’.
  • Children with difficulties also battle to pronounce new words or to break words apart into sounds.
  • Guessing words they don't know instead of sounding them out.
  • Hate reading out loud.
  • By halfway through Grade 1 your child should be able to read at least 100 common words such as ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘is’, etc. and know the letter-sound associations well enough to read simple words. 
  • Take note of the following when your child reads aloud:  skipping words in sentences without stopping to self-correct, sounding out the word every time it occurs on the page, guessing unknown words.
  • Reverses letters, such as confusing ‘d’ for ‘b’ or ‘u’ for ‘n’. 
  • Reverses words such as ‘nap’ for ‘pan’.  Keep in mind that many children reverse words and letters, especially before the age of 7. 
However, if this is combined with other delays, then it may be worth investigating further.

It's important not to panic if you see some of these warning signs in your child. They can help you to be on the lookout; however, there is no precise list of sure-fire signs of a reading difficulty.

Below is a general outline of the milestones on the road to reading and the ages at which most children reach them. Keep in mind that children develop at different paces and spend varying amounts of time at each stage.

All you have to do is choose the correct age group that applies to your child.

Infancy (Up to Age 1)

Toddlers (Ages 1–3)

Early Preschool (Age 3)

Late Preschool (Age 4 to 5)

Grade R (Age 5 to 6)

Grade 1 and 2 (Ages 6–7)

Grade 2 and 3 (Ages 7–8)

Grade 4 to 8 (Ages 9–13)


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