You’ve visited your child’s classroom only to catch the students at the tail-end of reading time. All of the students are young, new readers, but most are progressing through the levels. However, your child struggles with sight words, patterned texts, and letter recognition.
You thought they were merely late bloomers, but now you’re beginning to wonder: could there be a problem? How soon is too soon to pursue a dyslexia assessment?
At READ Learning Center, we’re huge advocates of early assessment. Assessments are an excellent tool that educators use to learn more about your child. There are also many benefits to early identification that can set your child up for success in the long run.
We’ve created this guide to highlight why early assessment helps struggling students. Continue reading to discover the best next step for your child.
Table of Contents
What Is a Dyslexia Assessment?
A dyslexia assessment is an assessment that professionals use to understand how a child processes text and language. Different educational professionals may prefer specific evaluations. Some professionals mix and match components from various formal assessments.
Some names you might hear during the process include:
· Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processes
· Feifer Assessment of a Reader
· Test of Auditory Processing
· Test of Word Reading Efficiency
· Gray Oral Reading Test
· Rapid Automatized Naming Test
A reading specialist, psychologist, or special educator often conducts the assessment. They have special training and know how to engage young children.
In general, the assessments look for four things.
Phonological awareness is the ability to hear sounds within words. Children with dyslexia tend to struggle with completing and identifying rhymes. They might be unable to clap out syllables or sort words by initial letter.
Decoding is the ability to apply letter-sound knowledge while reading. Children with dyslexia often struggle with “sounding out” or “tapping out” words in the classroom.
Encoding is the ability to recall sound-letter knowledge to spell out words.
Reading Fluency and Comprehension
Fluent readers can read quickly, accurately, and with expression. A dysfluent reader may read very slowly, repeat words many times, make mistakes, and read with a flat effect. This is very common in children with dyslexia.
Comprehension refers to the ability to understand what you are reading. Dyslexic children may have trouble answering questions about a passage or story. They may hyperfocus on decoding and fail to pay attention to the content.
Rapid naming is the ability to look at a word, symbol, object, or letter and name it efficiently. Many dyslexic children need to think about letter names before naming them. While this is developmentally appropriate in young children, this process should become more or less automatic over time.
If a child struggles with this process (even when naming images on a page as a pre-reader), they may have a lexical learning difference.
Why Assess Early?
According to the National Center on Improving Literacy, the earlier you pursue an assessment, the better. But what do we consider “early?”
Most professionals agree that identification can begin as early as preschool. From there, educators can begin simple, targeted interventions. A kindergarten or first-grade assessment is appropriate if children are not progressing as expected.
By third grade, children are moving away from “learning to read” and beginning to “read to learn.” Their overall academic skills will improve if they can decode and comprehend the material they read. They may struggle with other subjects, even if they’ve excelled in the past when reading is a challenge.
The sooner you address a potential learning difference, the sooner professionals can intervene. That’s why our tutoring or summer camp for kids who struggle with writing, reading, and math begins in kindergarten.
Key Benefits of Early Assessment
According to the NIH, 90% of children who receive dyslexia intervention between six and nine will reach grade-level reading standards. In contrast, only 25% of students who begin intervention after the age of nine ever read at grade level.
In other words, earlier assessment means earlier intervention. The sooner your child receives support, the sooner they’ll internalize new reading strategies.
Other benefits of early dyslexia assessment include the following:
· Preventing cumulative problems from developing over time
· Reducing anxiety (including social anxieties) related to reading
· Boosting achievement across subject areas
· Providing more time to get used to strategies and assistive technologies
· Strategies become automatic and intuitive
· Increasing access to print at an earlier age
In other words, the sooner children learn how to compensate for their learning differences, the sooner their tools become automatic. Instead of struggling, learners adapt to their unique needs.
After a Reading Assessment
Once you have more information about your child, it’s time to take steps to help them achieve their academic goals. Consider enrolling them in a tutoring program and summer camp (or a summer camp for kids who struggle with math, writing, and reading). Summer school programs offer enrichment and prevent students from experiencing “summer slide” or learning loss.
You can also pursue after-school tutoring for your child. Often, a one-on-one or small-group environment helps ensure personalized support.
There are also small, supportive changes you can make at home. For example, you might download a dyslexia-friendly font on your technology. You can also label household items to create a print-rich environment.
The Proactive Power of Dyslexia Assessment
We understand that assessing dyslexia can be sensitive. Nobody wants to discover something is “different” with their child. We assure you that a dyslexia assessment is a learning tool, and knowledge is power.
Are you ready to take your child’s reading struggles into your own hands? We invite you to explore our tutoring program and reading, writing, and math summer camp in Sacramento, CA.
Schedule a tour and begin your journey today.