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Signs of Trouble in First Grade

Signs of Trouble With Learning in First Grade

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trouble in first grade

Is your child having trouble in first grade?

Getty Images/Sharpn Dominick

Note: Please see Signs of Trouble in Kindergarten, as this list is in addition to those outlined for kindergarten.

First grade is a time of tremendous growth in learners, particularly in the realms of reading and mathematics. Though some children have more difficulty than others learning, there are certain signs of trouble that need to be looked at more carefully. If your child shows a number of these signs of trouble, it's time to talk to her teacher and/or pediatrician about further evaluation.

Your child may have trouble in first grade if she can't:

  • Follow two or three-step directions.
  • Concentrate long enough to finish a task
  • Recognize, name and correspond the sounds of all the letters of the alphabet.
  • Communicate her needs and feelings verbally in a respectful manner.
  • Recognize sight words. (How many words and which ones will depend on your school's core word list.)

Your child may have trouble in kindergarten and might need further evaluation for possible developmental delays or learning disabilities if she shows some of the following signs:

  • Mixes up left and right.
  • Has trouble keeping track of or frequently loses things.
  • Can't easily learn to play new games or complete new puzzles.
  • Performs the same tasks with a different level of competence from day to day.
  • Is unable to use/apply skills learned in one situation in similar situation.
  • Has trouble with activities that require had-eye coordination. This includes things like basketball, baseball, playing a musical instrument and even video games.
  • Uses words incorrectly and/or has poor conversational grammar.
  • Cannot rhyme or hear rhymes.
  • Doesn't show an interest in and may even show an aversion to books and story-telling.
  • Doesn't "get" puns, jokes, idioms or other non-literal language.
  • Shows difficulty understanding the pragmatics of conversation. For example, having trouble knowing that conversations involve turn-taking, understanding verbal and non-verbal cues in conversation and/or responding topically when other people speak.
  • Confuses, reverses and has difficulty making letters and numbers or reverses the letter order in words.
  • Has difficulty with reading fluency.
  • Cannot master phonemic awareness skills.
  • Has "sloppy" handwriting. (i.e. messy with cross-outs, uneven spacing, can't stay on the line, doesn't copy correctly)
  • Has difficulty spelling, but uses different variations of incorrect spellings of words within the same piece of writing.
  • Trouble mastering estimation, skip-counting, comparison and basic addition or subtraction facts.
  • Doesn't seem to have a concept of time and/or can't learn to tell time.
  • Is unable to read other people's emotions or moods.
  • Doesn't know when she is being teased good-naturedly and/or responds inappropriately to teasing.
  • Cannot apply coping skills when facing challenging situations.
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