Learning Disabilities: Signs of Concern

Dyslexia sign written by a childChild care providers are in a unique position to notice if a child seems to be having a difficult time learning or remembering new skills. Child care providers spend many hours a day with children, and have the chance to observe them in many different situations.

Children who are having learning difficulties may show a variety of signs. Some signs may be subtle; others are very obvious. If it seems like a child is struggling to learn or is having difficulty doing an activity that is easy for other children her age to complete, pay attention. Take some time to observe the child over several days, and write down what you notice. Remember that children’s development is uneven. Some children take longer to master new skills. Watch for a pattern of the same problems over time.

Signs That May Suggest a Learning Disability

Child care providers should pay attention if a child

  • Has a shorter attention span than other children the same age
  • Is more easily distracted than other children
  • Has difficulty switching gears when it’s time for a transition
  • Always prefers to play with younger children
  • Is afraid of trying new things
  • Has difficulty solving problems
  • Does not remember things well
  • Has trouble transferring something learned to a new situation
  • Speaks and uses language like a much younger child

If you have concerns about a child’s learning, talk with the parents, and encourage them to schedule an assessment of the child’s development. The Tips for Child Care Providers to Communicate Concerns about Children’s Development with Parents article has suggestions on how to approach parents with your concerns.

For More Information

 For more information on supporting children with special needs in a child care program, check out the eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care section on Child Care for Children with Special Needs, or take a look at the article Adapting the Child Care Environment for Children with Special Needs. To find specific ways to support children with learning disabilities in the child care environment, see Specific Ideas for Child Care Providers to Help Children with Learning Disabilities.