Figuring out the learning disability of a kindergartner is like being a mechanic figuring out what is wrong with the car. Kindergartners aren’t able to tell you what their problem is in regards to reading and writing. To be honest they have difficulty telling you what obstacles they have with a lot of things but that is a topic for another day.
Children in general have difficulty explaining and expressing themselves and that is why more and more parents are sharing sign language with their infant children so that they can better express themselves.
But as a tutor I am more interested in children’s ability to express themselves and to receive information in written form. A child who has dyslexia or ADD might not know it but it often shows up in how they behave and what their completed assignments look like. If a child is repeatedly turning letters upside down or backwards that is a good sign. But if a child simply cannot read easy words (and by easy I mean two letter words at six months into the school year when all of their peers can), then it is a sign that something else is going on. You can’t ask them what their disability is because they don’t know they have a disability. Therefore you can’t find a way to fix it or work around it because even you don’t know exactly what the problem is.
That is part of my job as a tutor. I don’t just work with them to teach them how to read and write. Sometimes I work with them to determine how they are going to be able to read and write. My hope is to make it possible for them to skip past any obstacles they might have where it comes to reading and writing. I believe that if you can read and write you have gained the keys to the world.
I believe being able to express yourself and gather information on your own are the most valuable tools you can have as a human being. Consider it this way – if a child has a club foot it is best that the deformity gets fixed early on so that it doesn’t hamper their ability to walk in the future. I believe that not being able to read or write is a problem that can be fixed. But consider if you have a child who is limping but you can’t figure out why. There’s no obvious sign of a physical problem. You’ve looked at their feet, their ankles, their knees, their back and there’s no good reason for why they are walking poorly.
Encountering a child who has a learning disability but who also does not have English as her first language compounds the problem. It is also entirely likely that her parents are unschooled, which is common with immigrants from poor countries. The parents might not know how to read because they have never gone to school. Thus, they were never able to read to their child, which will result in the child also being illiterate. But it might also be that she has inherited a learning disability from her parents as well.