Most schools do not yet test or screen for dyslexia. So parents should watch for these classic warning signs in third graders.
My son is a month into 3rd grade, and last year – somewhere in the middle of second grade, he hit a brick wall in reading.
He was always one or two levels behind his peers, and we worked very hard to stay that close to grade level. But in the middle of second grade, as other classmates reading took off, his just flattened out. He ended the year reading at level 18, and he was supposed to be at 28.
So I spent the summer at the library with him, having him read aloud to me. I also had him write 6 or 7 sentences on everything he read, and I was struck by the following:
1. He does not always see the start, middle and end of a word – especially bigger words.
2. He misreads simple words, like those for these, them for they, and who for how — and he substitutes words that mean the same thing at an alarming rate (like every other sentence).
3. He guesses at words by using pictures and a predictable story line.
4. He still confuses b and d.
5. Punctuation might as well not be on the page at all.
6. He reads very slowly, without any fluency or comprehension. It is all he can do to actually read the words and get them right, so he has no chance of understanding what he read. In fact, on his first reading comprehension test ever, he scored a 0.
7. After an entire summer of having him read aloud to me every day, and after an intense first month of school, (I mean reading so much at home that he does not have much time to do anything else), he is only reading at level 20. His peers are 32 and higher.
8. We studied for his first social studies test this past weekend. He had so much trouble memorizing the terms: region, culture, agriculture, climate, artifact, adaptation – that at first, I thought he was joking around. It was not until he began to cry that I realized how hard he was working.
I strongly suspect he has dyslexia.
I also suspect my husband has it. My husband does not read beyond a 3rd grade level, and this is forcing him to relive the hell of his school years.
I feel so stupid for not researching this sooner and for trusting his teachers and the school.
I feel like I have failed my son.
No, you have not. You can change his entire future by taking action now.
If he gets the right type of tutoring after school, plus accommodations in the classroom and during homework, you will be amazed at the improvement in his skills – and self-esteem – by the end of this school year.
A parent recently sent me this email:
My daughter, Karen, is 8 years old and in third grade. She is full of life and so much fun. She makes friends easily and enjoys having a good time. But she is struggling in school.
She started struggling in Kindergarten. She had a tough time staying in her seat and was always in trouble for pestering others during nap time. She struggled with sight words and reading, and she missed the DIBELS benchmarks. But her teacher said Karen just needed to mature a little more and that she would be fine.
But in first grade, Karen was way behind in reading. She has always been a “social butterfly,” and she still had a hard time staying in her seat. So her teacher allowed her to get up move around a bit and then go back to work. That seemed to help.
Spelling tests were very tough for Karen. Reading comprehension tests were also tough because she couldn’t always read the questions. However, she could orally tell you all about the book. Her handwriting was poor, but legible.
In January, her first grade teacher suggested retention. But by the end of first grade, the teacher claimed Karen had caught up in reading. Karen was just a little immature, but she would grow out of it.
In second grade, Karen was about a semester behind in reading, and she sometimes swapped b’s for d’s. Her handwriting was (and still is) really hard to read at times. She did okay in math. But she often failed the spelling tests – even though we practiced every night and tried all sorts of things when practicing those spelling words.
This year, her third grade teacher knows all the “tricks.” Spelling tests are multiple choice. Karen has to circle the one that looks right, and she gets 95% or higher on that type of spelling test. But she cannot spell any of those words the following week.
Vocabulary tests are given with a word bank, so most weeks, Karen scores 85% or higher.
In math, she is allowed to use scratch paper and her fingers because she still has not memorized her adding and subtracting facts. Now they are starting multiplication. Yikes. Her class recently started to learn to tell time. Karen is struggling in that as well.
The school says Karen is at the 2.5 grade level in reading – but she should be at 3.4. Karen is doing better with being attentive in class, except during reading time. She loves to be read to, but she gets frustrated when she tries to read.
Her teacher doesn’t seem alarmed, but I have this feeling that something isn’t quite right.
Karen started cheering this year. She struggles to memorize the words and motions of the cheers. She often goes left when the group goes right, lifts her left hand when the group raises their right, etc.
She has a hard time memorizing Bible scriptures in her Bible classes. Scriptures that she memorized a week ago, she can no longer recite.
Do you think she might have dyslexia?