Signs of Trouble With Learning in Kindergarten

What parents can look for if they suspect a learning disability

Teaching him to tie his shoes

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Can children show signs of learning problems in kindergarten? While learning disabilities are not often diagnosed until kids have spent at least two years in school, there are some warning signs that you can look for when your child is 5 or 6 years old.

When Parents Should Ask for Help

It is common for many teachers to take a "wait and see" approach to a student's learning progress in kindergarten. After all, the school environment is new for many children, particularly if they did not attend pre-school. Sometimes kids simply need time to adjust and sometimes they are just learning at a slower rate than their peers.

There are a number of indicators that can be signs of trouble, even in kindergarten. If you are concerned about your child, it is a good idea to follow up with her teacher and pediatrician. They will be able to guide you through any steps needed to determine if there is a learning problem or other disability that needs to be addressed.

Signs of Trouble in Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a child's introduction to school and their first real experience in society without the help of their parents. It can be a difficult transition for many kids.

It is important for parents to recognize and try to help teachers if there are any signs of behavioral problems. While these may not be a signal for a learning problem, addressing aggressive or anti-social behavior right from the start will help stop the bad behaviors before they get out of control.

You may find your child has trouble in kindergarten if he can't:

  • Adhere to rules and follow simple directions
  • Separate from you or another caregiver without undue anxiety or visible distress
  • Talk to his classmates and teachers in a way that they can understand
  • Manage personal hygiene (washing hands, using the bathroom independently) or simple dressing tasks
  • Get along with peers without hitting or yelling
  • Be respectful to his teachers

Early Signs of a Possible Learning Disability

There are a number of behaviors that parents can look for that may indicate your child has problems with learning or development. They may seem like small issues today but can lead to larger problems. The earlier you seek help, the better off your child will be.

It can be something as simple as talking too loudly, which may indicate a hearing problem. Showing frustration with simple tasks like tying their shoes or losing interest quickly in one task and moving on to another may indicate a learning disability that can be addressed.

If you notice any of these signs in your child, talk to her teacher or doctor. Explain what you observed and ask if it is something that you may need to address through tests or evaluations. 

Your child might need evaluation for possible developmental delays or learning disabilities if he shows a few of the following signs:

  • Finds it difficult to pay attention long enough to finish a task or a play activity.
  • Has trouble maintaining friendships or joining in with other children.
  • Shows a consistent lack of self-control when challenged or frustrated.
  • Knocks things over often doesn't seem to know where his body is in space or drops things regularly.
  • Has difficulty with fasteners, like zippers and buttons, and has trouble learning to tie shoes.
  • Has an awkward pencil grasp (it will often look uncomfortable) and can't color within or trace "the lines."
  • Avoids writing, coloring or cutting tasks because they are "too hard."
  • Speaks too softly or too loudly on a consistent basis.
  • Can't seem to stay on topic when he speaks.
  • Speaks in incomplete sentences, can't name objects, mispronounces and/or mixes up words in sentences.
  • Is unable to follow simple directions and/or can't repeat what has just been said to him, either in his own words or verbatim.
  • Can't name the letters after many teachings and/or is unable to associate letters with the sounds they make.
  • Shows an ongoing inability to correspond to one-to-one and simple counting.
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5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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