What are typical reading expectations?

Reading is a difficult skill that we do not learn all at once. We build our reading skills gradually over the years, and every time we learn something new we get ready to learn something else. Typical reading skills include being able to recite the alphabet, recognize letters, match letters and sounds, recognize familiar words, and read increasingly difficult stories.


When should I pay special attention to reading difficulties?

A lot of people may face difficulties with reading. But there are some signs that can be noticed when we are young children that may indicate a more significant concern that we should pay attention to. If you have any doubts on how to identify these signs, ask a trusted caregiver or a teacher for help.


Signs of reading difficulties in early childhood, or when we are children up to 6 years of age, include:

  • Learning how to speak later than other children.
  • Trouble learning simple rhymes.
  • Trouble following directions given by an adult.
  • Trouble when reading short words.
  • Repeating or leaving out words when reading.
  • Trouble differentiating left from right most of the time.


Signs of reading difficulties when we are in school include:

  • Having significant difficulty learning how to read, including trouble sounding out new words and counting the number of syllables in words.
  • Struggling with taking notes and copying down words from the board.
  • Having difficulty rhyming, associating sounds with letters, and sequencing and ordering sounds.
  • Lacking fluency in reading and continuing to read slowly when other children are speeding ahead.
  • Avoiding reading out loud in class, usually due to feelings of embarrassment or shame.
  • Feeling tired from reading with great effort.


Signs of reading difficulties when we are outside school include:

  • Having trouble understanding logos and signs.
  • Having difficulty learning the rules to games.
  • Struggling to remember multi-step directions.
  • Having trouble reading clocks or telling time.
  • Having trouble learning a new language.
  • Having emotional outbursts when incapable of reading something.


What can I do if I struggle with reading difficulties?

It can be hard and frustrating to deal with reading difficulties. If you understand that you struggle with them, there are a few things you may try to reduce the impact they have on your life and to get better at reading little by little.

First, most of the things we are suggesting might be more easily done with the help of a trusted adult and a teacher. You may try to:

  • Ask a trusted adult for help. Trusted adults are usually our caregivers, other family members, or someone else who is responsible for taking care of us. Let your trusted adults know about your difficulties. They can be helpful for assisting you and helping you get any additional help you may need.
  • Talk to your teacher. Reaching out to your teacher can be helpful, too. Teachers usually know how we are progressing in reading, and they also know what is expected and what isn't. Talking to them not only helps you understand your difficulty, but it can also inform them on things that can be done in the classroom or at school to help you with your difficulties.

There are things that can be helpful on a daily basis and others that might be helpful when you have specific challenging tasks or assignments to complete. You may try to:

  • Spend some time on organization and planning. It is not unusual for reading difficulties to be linked with other difficulties, such as remembering activities or tasks. So, try taking some time to plan the things you have to do on each one of your days. Wall calendars, mobile apps, or alarm clocks can be helpful.
  • Practice decoding words. When we have reading difficulties, it is not uncommon that we spend a lot of time trying to decode the words on a text and forget what we have just read. So, regularly practicing decoding words can improve our ability to do it when reading a text. You can do that through flash cards with frequently used words or letter combinations, reading small and easy texts, or reading out loud.
  • Explore other tools. Audio books, writing on a computer instead of by hand, or using apps available for practice decoding and reading can be helpful when addressing reading difficulties.
  • Engage in other activities you feel you are good at. Reading difficulties can progressively undermine our sense of competence. Engaging in activities, such as music, joining a sports team, or anything you feel good about, helps to build and strengthen confidence that can be harmed by reading difficulties.


If you have a task, an activity or an assignment that your reading difficulties make harder to complete, you may try to:

  • Break assignments and tasks down into smaller parts. Breaking bigger tasks or goals into smaller ones allows us to focus more closely and makes bigger assignments less overwhelming.
  • Give yourself enough time to do your tasks and take frequent breaks. Tasks requiring reading and writing can take a little longer for people with reading difficulties. So, be realistic about the fact that you might need more time. Also, every time you plan on doing an activity that will take up some effort, take frequent small breaks to give your mind a fresh start.
  • Remove distractions. Anyone can easily become distracted when there is something interesting going on. Removing distractions, such as TVs, games, and mobile phones, can be helpful to allow you to give full attention to the task that is requiring a lot of mental energy.
  • Plan and review your writing. One important thing that tends to help us focus is thinking about what we want to write before we begin writing. So, before starting, take some time to think about the ideas you want to write down, what details you want to use to support them, and how you want to conclude your writing.
  • Write while ignoring spelling, then correct it. It is usual that when we have reading difficulties we become so focused on correct spelling that we lose our train of thought. So, every time you have to write something, ignore the spelling and focus on the idea. You can take it as a first draft and, after getting your ideas out, go over the document and review for spelling mistakes.


If you have already tried some or most of these suggestions and the problems you are facing persist, it may be time to ask a trusted adult to seek out professional support.

Reading skills that don't advance the way they should despite efforts, and difficulties that are too far from those typically faced by others our same age may indicate the presence of a disorder called Dyslexia.


What kind of professional support can be sought out?

It is not unusual for us to feel embarrassed, inadequate, or even guilty if we are having reading difficulties. Sometimes we can even think that the problem is not a big deal or that we may grow out of it. But, if we think we may be having reading difficulties, support and guidance are available now.

If you think you have reading difficulties and they are persisting for more than  a few weeks, talk to a trusted adult or teacher. They can help you to seek an evaluation from a professional or a supportive reading intervention. The earlier that support is given, even short-term support, the better the outcomes are.

Educational specialists, tutors, and speech-language therapists, especially those with experience working with students who learn differently, can help us approach reading difficulties in different and more effective ways.

Outside of school, additional services are available at the Centers of Multidisciplinary Assessment, Counseling, and Support (KEDASY).


Where to find more information

Specific, detailed, and clinical information on Dyslexia can be found at [clinical short guide at the program website].

If you want to know more about the closest available services for educational and public health systems for children and adolescent assistance across the country, go to our Services Mapping webpage here.

You can also find more information by pointing your phone camera at the QR code below or by clicking here.



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