The Grey Area of Reading Difficulties

If you’re a parent reading this post, then you will likely have a few burning questions of your own about your child’s reading progress.

Knowing whether your child is having reading difficulties can be a bit of a grey area at times especially in the early stages of learning to read.

If only we had a crystal ball to show us what may lie ahead just out of sight. Experience has shown me that for parents caught in this ‘grey area’ and feeling unsure about their child’s progress, the path ahead may look a little something like this.

Keep in mind, at any point along the journey you have the power to change the path ahead. It all starts with the decision to try and a commitment to doing so.

So, let’s take a very quick walk together into the grey area.

When your child is in Year 1, they may find reading a little bit hard, but you figure that’s to be expected when learning anything new. Perhaps they have trouble remembering what they’ve learnt or struggle to make the connection between some of the letters and sounds. Or maybe they are not interested in reading at all. The thought of reading difficulties may cross your mind but it’s hard to know for sure. Perhaps you dismiss your concerns altogether thinking it’s probably a bit too early to worry.

When your child is in Year 2, you notice the schoolwork is starting to get a little harder. Something seems a little off, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. School seems to take a lot out of your child. You put their reluctance to doing homework tasks down to tiredness after a long day at school. But a pattern is forming. 

You wonder if everything is going ok in the classroom.

Again, the question of reading difficulties begins to play on your mind. You question whether your child’s progress is normal. You ask other parents how their child is progressing. Naturally you draw comparisons. 

School reports indicate your child’s progress has dipped below expected in reading and writing. You speak with your child’s teacher who reassures you not to worry although extra support is suggested. 

You reach out to a few close friends in your parent circle for support. You turn to google for answers. It’s now on your radar.


When your child is in Year 3, reading difficulties start to become more obvious. The schoolwork becomes a lot harder, and your child may be struggling to keep up in the classroom.

You learn that the difficulties extend beyond reading through to spelling, writing and comprehension. You begin to realise the window of learning to read is starting to close. The transition from learning to read to reading to learn has already begun.

At this point you are very much aware of your child’s reading and learning difficulties but perhaps not so familiar with how to progress from here.

If any of this sounds familiar let me reassure you – you are not alone!

Knowing what to do, who to talk to, when to act may seem simple in theory but is often a lot more complicated in real life.

If you’re anything like me, I found myself questioning at many points along the way whether my child’s difficulty was just a normal part of the learning process or something I should be much more concerned about?

Being my first child, I didn’t have an older child to compare his progress with. What was considered normal anyway?

You may often hear other people say things like:

“Boys just develop slower than girls.”
“Children develop at different rates.”
“Just give him time, it just hasn’t clicked yet.”

So, as a parent how long do you wait for it to click?

Well, I can safely say, it didn’t click and knowing what I know now it was likely never going to click for my son.

Having dyslexia meant he processed information in a different way. When it came to learning to read, it also meant he needed to learn in a different way too.

So here’s the takeaway – If you can see what’s potentially on the horizon ahead of time, it helps to put things in your own situation into perspective.

It’s never too early (or too late) to ‘take action’ – whether that means speaking with your child’s teacher, arranging additional support, or taking steps to support your child’s learning at home like I did.

You have everything you need within you right now to set wheels in motion and help your child. 

Don’t wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder and tell you it’s time.

No one knows your child better than you do. Learn to trust your instincts, your first thought is usually right.


More information about The Reading Switch and Dual Code Reading can be found on our website.

About Author

Brylee Langley

Founder of The Reading Switch,
Mum of Two Dyslexic Children, Lived Experience,
Parenting Dyslexic Thinkers

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