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Unlocking Early Reader Potential: 5 Key Signs of Dyslexia & Other Literacy Challenges (Part 1)

A guide for parents to use to spot their young learner's literacy difficulties.


Unlocking Early Reader Potential: 5 Key Signs of Dyslexia and Other Literacy Challenges-Part 1

As a parent, your child's journey into literacy lays the crucial foundation for their education.

Are you wondering how to identify early reading and writing challenges and what signs to watch out for? This is the guide for you! Explore this blog to learn proactive steps to ensure your child becomes a confident and proficient reader and writer. Keep reading to find out more!


5 Ways to Spot Dyslexia & Other Literacy Challenges in Your Early Reader

A Guide for Parents: Spotting Dyslexia and Literacy Challenges in your young reader


Early Intervention: Reading Challenges & Dyslexia

As children embark on their journey into literacy, it's crucial for educators and parents alike to be vigilant in recognising any signs of difficulties that might hinder the progress of their beginner reader(s). Early intervention is key to helping these young learners overcome dyslexia and other literacy challenges, and build a strong foundation in reading and writing. In this first part of our blog series, we'll explore some common indicators that can help you spot dyslexia and literacy challenges in your child as they start their reading journey.


Signs of Dyslexia and Literacy Challenges in your young reader 1. Slow Progress

1. Slow Progress

One of the earliest warning signs is slow progress. While all children receive the same teaching in a classroom, some children may struggle to retain what they've learned, or they will need frequent refreshers to help them remember it.


Sometimes teachers, and or you, as a parent may notice your beginner reader struggles with certain concepts, such as the connection between letters and their corresponding sounds.


It’s when you get that feeling of “it’s just not sticking” that alarm bells ring.

This difficulty can become clear right from the beginning when your child is introduced to letters and their matching sounds in their phonics lessons. If your child sees a letter but can't recall the sound it makes, even after it has been taught and revised, it may be a cause for concern.


Signs of Dyslexia and Literacy Challenges in your young reader  2. Difficulty reading short words.

2. Difficulty Reading Short Words

The first step in reading is sounding out words, such as "c-a-t" for "cat." However, children on the dyslexia spectrum may struggle with this fundamental skill. Some may only remember the last sound, resulting in them saying a word that starts with the final sound.


Others might find the letters in a word meaningless and have difficulty starting the process of sounding it out.


Skilled readers typically sound out a word a few times and then read it automatically, without needing to sound it out repeatedly. If your child takes longer than their peers to sound out a word, it could be an indication of difficulties related to dyslexia, as reading is not becoming automatic for them.


Signs of Dyslexia and Literacy Challenges in your young reader  3. Flipping letters when writing

3. Flipping Letters When Writing

Letter-flipping is a normal occurrence for most children as they begin to learn how to write. Even though it is universally the most recognised sign of dyslexia, flipping letters doesn't mean a young learner is dyslexic.


However, it is a definite cause for concern, if a child continues to struggle with letter-flipping, long after others have outgrown it, especially after receiving letter formation and handwriting training.


Handwriting training, particularly in joined-up writing, can be particularly beneficial for poor spellers. That's because joined-up writing develops muscle memory which is instinctive, so writing and making correct word formations becomes more automatic, like riding a bike.


Signs of Dyslexia and Literacy Challenges in your young reader  4. Difficulty writing short words.

4. Difficulty Writing Short Words

Difficulty writing short words can manifest in two distinct ways. First, some learners may struggle to connect letters and sounds, resulting in seemingly random combinations of letters when attempting to write words. Second, erratic and varied spelling mistakes, where the same simple word is written in multiple inconsistent ways, may indicate dyslexia.


However, mistakes that demonstrate an understanding of spelling patterns but need more practice are not indicative of dyslexia.


Signs of Dyslexia and Literacy Challenges in your young reader  5. Rules don't work.

5. Rules Don't Work

Dyslexic learners often struggle with rule-based spelling instruction because these rules can feel abstract to their brains. For instance, rules like the "magic e" rule might not be helpful to them. Specialised teaching methods tailored to dyslexic learners can be invaluable as they move away from rule-based literacy learning toward a more personalised approach that emphasises understanding through meaning, rather than rigid rule-following.


Dyslexic learners may either over-apply spelling rules that they don't apply or create their own rules to navigate language. Alternative ways of teaching spelling include using a multi-sensory approach, mnemonic devices word chunking, and SACAWAC (see, and cover, and write, and check).


In the second part of this blog series, I will share more signs of literacy difficulties in young learners and discuss strategies to support these children effectively in their literacy development. Stay tuned for next week's blog!


Literacy & Dyslexia Support for Your Child

It's challenging to juggle the roles of teacher and parent, especially when it comes to supporting your child's reading and writing struggles at home.


Imagine having a dedicated tutor by your side, someone with the training and experience to provide valuable insights into your child's progress. That's precisely what I can offer you.

Book a call with a phonics tutor.

Tailored Online Learning

Hi, I'm Kara, a phonics tutor and reading specialist with experience working with children ages 4-11. I specialise in assessing your child's reading, writing and spelling abilities, tailoring support that's just right for them and supporting literacy challenges as needed.


With my monthly progress reports, you'll stay informed about their development every step of the way.


Let's have a chat today to explore how I can support your child's literacy journey.

Click here to book a call with me.



Together, we can help your child unlock their full potential in reading and writing.

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