Signs of Learning Disabilities in Third Grade

Third grader writing on chalkboard
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Third grade is a year of tremendous growth and learning, especially in math and reading. If your child is showing signs of trouble in third grade, it should be addressed as soon as possible. Speak with your child's teacher or pediatrician if they show any of these signs of trouble.

Warning Signs

Your child may have trouble in third grade if they can't read sight (or high frequency) words without stopping to think about it. The same goes if your child cannot write in legible, complete sentences or write a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

As for math, children should be able to automatically solve basic addition and subtraction facts up to 10. This includes doubles facts, double plus one facts, and other fact family problems. They should also be able to create and solve the numerical sentences that go with story problems.

When Screening for Learning Disabilities May Be Needed

Your child may not only be having trouble in third grade but also signs of learning disabilities. If you or the child's teacher suspects the child has a developmental delay, the student might need further evaluation to rule out such concerns and identify the problem.

One sign of learning disabilities in children is difficulty maneuvering scissors, tweezers, puzzle pieces, or other small objects. Children who struggle to stay focused while listening may also have learning disabilities, as do children who ramble when speaking about a topic.

Children who stammer or stutter or often fill sentences with words such as "um, uh, you know or I mean" might need additional screening. Students who use malapropisms in speech may also need evaluation. Malapropisms are also known as "slips of the tongue" and occur when speakers use a similar-sounding word as a replacement in a phrase, making it nonsensical. For example, they may say, "It is beyond my apprehension" rather than, "It is beyond my comprehension."

Additional Signs of Learning Disabilities

Parents and teachers should be on the lookout if children display any of the following signs as well:

  • Has trouble understanding and/or following verbal or written directions.
  • Loses the place while reading.
  • Confuses words that look similar when reading. For example, word/world.
  • Reverses letter order when reading. For example, reads "was" as "saw."
  • Avoids reading or reads under protest.
  • Has trouble learning multiplication tables and other mathematical formulas and rules.
  • Struggles to create charts or graphs from mathematical information.
  • Fails to follow tasks through to completion, such as schoolwork, homework or chores.
  • Tries to avoid activities that call for long periods of concentration.
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3 Sources
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  1. Common Core State Standards Initiative. English Language Arts Standards: Grade 3.

  2. Common Core State Standards Initiative. Standards for Mathematical Practice: Grade 3.

  3. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What are some signs of learning disabilities?