5 Signs Your Preschooler May Have Learning Differences and What You Can Do to Help

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This week, I was one of the teachers in our church’s 3-5 year old class.

Another teacher was engaging a four year old as he played with some building blocks. I noticed how difficult it was for this child to stay on task. Then the child asked the teacher what his name was. The teacher answered that his name was Jay. The child played for less than one minute then asked the same teacher again what his name was. My radar started going off. I mean like crazy. The more I watched this child the more I felt he may have a learning difference.

Are you wondering if your preschool child has a learning disorder like ADHD or dyslexia?


Don’t ignore your concerns. And don’t pass over the signs because you see how very bright your child is.

This is the point with children who deal with dyslexia and many other learning differences. THEY ARE SMART! The intelligence of these children can cause us to put off intervening because they are learning well in so many areas. Don’t do it. You owe it to your child to pay attention so that they can have help working through the difficulties they will face.

As Mentioned above there are signs you can look for.

Here are 5 signs that are often spotted in young children and some exercises you can do with them to get an early start working on problem areas.

1. Doesn’t talk as much as other children.

My third son didn’t truly talk until he was well past the age of three. It was the same for my fourth son. My older two sons had extensive vocabularies without speech impediments at the age of two. A lack of conversation could be a sign of language development issues. But remember Einstein didn’t talk until he was four. So your quiet child is in good company.

       What can you do? Try playing games that involve sound. Animal sounds are great. Say, “A cow says ‘moo, moo. Can you say ‘moo’?” and continue with other common animal sounds. There are books that are good for this too, like my own book Bixby Bunny Hears a Sound.

2. Pronounces words incorrectly.

Joey called a magazine a mazagine, my 10 year old Zane will still say things like disturv instead of disturb. Does your child do this often? is an animal called an aminal? This can be a sign of auditory processing disorder (APD).

       What can you do? What seemed to help my kids was to change the inflection slightly as you say the proper pronunciation. Example: Place an emphasis on one of the sounds they misplaced…maga-zine. Then ask your child to try. But be prepared for some interesting situations. My son Stefan had trouble with blends that had an r. Words like ‘great” were glate. One day we were working with him on the name of a friend, “Greg”. He would call him “Gleg”. I would say, “Grrr” and he would say, “Grrr”. Then I would say,”Grrreg” and he would say, “Grrrleg”. Needless to say, he’s now 26 and saying “Greg”. Here is the deal, don’t fall for the “Isn’t this cute trap”. Help your child train his ear to process what he hears while he is young.

3. Has trouble remembering peoples names. 

Just like the child above, Joey couldn’t remember peoples names. Even some of his own family members. He called all adult women “Mama”, adult men, “Papa”, male children, “Kai” (one of his brothers with an easy name) and female children, “Meg”. People thought it was adorable. I wish I had known it was a sign of his dyslexia.

What can you do? Gently remind him of the persons real name and ask him to repeat it. Also play memory games. Just keep in mind that this may not be easy for your child. Consider beginning with only two or three pairs. Then gradually add another pair one at a time. Avoid the games with busy pictures. You can even make your own using crayons and card stock or 3 x 5 cards. You also can simply print this black-line of shapes and color them in different colors then glue them onto 3 x 5 cards. Or, if you have a color printer you can cut out this page of colored shapes FREE and glue them onto cardstock.

4. Has difficulty rhyming. 

Many children with APD struggle to hear rhymes. If you say, “What rhymes with cat”? they very well may say something like, “Kitty” They just don’t hear it. They often don’t enjoy rhyming books because they just don’t get it.

       What can you do? Practice. Remember electric company and the two faces looking at each other? One would say, “C” and the other would say,”at” then the two parts would come together and they would both say “Cat“. You can do the same thing. Choose a word family and play the game. You say, “Lets make words that sound almost the same at the end. I will say a sound and you say “at”. Then we will put them together and make a word.” Go through a bunch of words in the same word family. You can also say, ” Say the word ‘dog'”. Let them say it. Then continue, ” What word would dog be if the ‘d” sound was, ‘l’?” It would be “log”. (Be sure to use sounds and not letter names.)

bear confused

5. Has trouble remembering instructions. 

You ask your child to bring you a paper and pencil and all he brings is the pencil. Remembering multiple instructions can be difficult for these kids. They are not being lazy, they simply forgot.

What can you do? Don’t give up. Continue to give simple sets of instructions on purpose.

  • Bring a bowl and spoon to the table.
  • Get the peanut butter and the bread, please.
  • Put this toy away and bring me a book we can read.

As they begin to accomplish these tasks increase the difficulty.

Play games where you gradually add another task:
Try this.
  • pat your leg.
  • pat your leg then touch your nose.
  • Pat your leg, touch your nose and hop.

Don’t be surprised if it seems like one day they have mastered something and the very next day they just can’t seem to get it right.It takes a lot of patience and consistency to parent or teach a child with learning differences. Keep in mind. They are not lazy or stupid. They are not trying to frustrate you. They want to do well. So, encourage them when they succeed and simply keep working at it. The more you practice the more you will see them grow.


Are you wondering if a certain behavior is a sign of dyslexia? Fell free to ask in the comments below. Also tell us if you have some great games or activities to help young children strengthen some of these skills. We want to hear from YOU. Finally, like us on facebook, pin us, and share everywhere then sign up for our email so you never miss a post.

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Robin Liner is a wife, and veteran homeschool mom with over twenty years experience. She has written two picture books and actively blogs about homeschooling with an emphasis on teaching dyslexic children at crazygoodreaders.wordpress.com. and athomewithdyslexia.com Feel free to contact her at robin@crazygoodreaders.com

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  1. EvanOBrodes

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It’s the little
    changes which will make the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Vencislav

    Fabulous post! Thank you so much for sharing parts of yourself. I flock to blogs that offer Christian inspiration and encouragement (and unfortunately I don’t have homeschooling mothers around me), so I’ll be visiting often! Have a blessed weekend,Carrie


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