Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

When Should Kids Learn to Read, Write, and Do Math?

Your child starting to read is just one of many educational milestones to watch for as a parent

When kids don't learn: Seek help

How can you know if your child needs extra help? Often a child who's struggling will show signs of unhappiness, says Horowitz, giving you a social or emotional barometer that clues you into their frustration. "That's when you definitely jump into motion."

To find out if there's really a problem, work with your child and gather data, says Horowitz. "If you're concerned about whether your child is reading or spelling at the level he should - with the accuracy and precision he should - investigate. Read with your child and see. Write with your child and see. Does it take three times longer? Then talk with your child's teacher about it."

Graham agrees. But base your assessment of writing on at least three compositions, he says, since a child who's struggling may have missed key instructions the first time around.

Some kids simply have minor lags in learning. But even when parents suspect a learning disability, they tend to wait almost a year before seeking help, often to avoid stigmatizing their child. But early intervention can help. Research shows that the best time to help a child with reading challenges, for example, is in the first two years of school.

It's up to schools and teachers to be on the lookout for children with learning disabilities. Federal law requires schools to test children with possible learning problems and develop remedial programs so that children can succeed. If you're concerned about your child's performance, ask your school for testing to see if an intervention is needed.

As a parent, it's wise to keep an eye on milestones. But use a child's signs of struggle to motivate you to investigate, not to press the panic button. Remember, reading, writing, and 'rithmatic include a range of complex skills to learn. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are a child's three Rs.

1|2|3
Reviewed on April 01, 2007

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool