From the time they are babies, we strive to give our little ones every ounce of love and encouragement that we can muster. We marvel at each little thing they are able to achieve, from rolling over to pointing to pronouncing their first syllables. We feel that nearly everything they do is remarkable because, quite simply, to us, their very existence is more than remarkable.
It is only in the later preschool years, with the prospect of Kindergarten looming, that we begin to butt up against various academic expectations. Are they learning their letters and numbers? Can they pay attention and follow directions? How are they holding a pencil? Charming mispronunciations like “aminal” for “animal” that we once hoped our kids would never outgrow now begin to seem ever so slightly worrisome, and we find ourselves correcting those backward written numbers a bit more urgently.
At the back of every parent’s mind flows an undercurrent of worry about how our kids are doing, how they are going to fare when they leave the cocoon of home and preschool to venture into grade school. For those whose kids don’t take readily to circle time, letters and numbers that concern may coalesce into the question: does my child have a learning disability?
If you find yourself contemplating that question, your best resource will probably be an experienced preschool teacher or pediatrician who knows your child well. In addition, there are also a number of outstanding online resources that can help concerned parents understand their children’s particular learning styles or difficulties. Young children’s vastly different ways of learning mean that it is not always possible to diagnose a learning disability such as dyslexia or dyscalculia during the preschool years. Nonetheless, there are certain early signs that are worth paying attention to, and the following resources can help you know what to look for.
As a place for parents to start, we are particularly impressed with the user-friendly National Center for Learning Disabilities web site. They offer a Checklist of Signs and Symptoms for download that is broken down by grade level, as well as a detailed list of reading difficulties and other signs of dyslexia in grades K-4th. Particularly useful for parents of young children are their articles on early warning signs and on the distinction and overlap between learning disabilities and learning styles.
The Learning Disabilities Association of America also offers useful ideas for helping preschool-age children with learning disabilities at home.
To begin browsing all of the vast and wonderful resources out there is to realize that help and information are readily available. The trick is figuring out exactly what kind of support your child and family may need. Beginning to investigate these resources now, during the preschool years, is the Savvy thing to do.
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