Studies show that the earlier a child's school struggles are addressed, the better the outcome will be. So it's important for parents to tackle problems early on rather than ignore them or hope children will grow out of them.
It's often easy to spot a child who's having difficulty with addition or subtraction, but other learning issues can be harder to identify. Surprisingly, both writing and math problems often originate with vocabulary and then reading problems. Signs of reading problems include not wanting to read aloud, reading slowly, having a hard time sounding out words, and not retaining what is read.
If your child is struggling, talk with school administrators about getting him or her extra help. Strategies can include individual meetings with a tutor, intensive instruction from your child's teacher and assistance from an education specialist on staff. Many students benefit from at least two 45- to 60-minute sessions per week that focus on material covered in class and areas of specific need.
Some public school services are available only to children with a diagnosed learning disability, such as a difficulty with language and reading, and schools have professionals trained to make such a diagnosis. If you disagree with their findings, you have the right to request more testing.
You might also want to seek out and pay for a consultation with a professional in private practice, such as an educational psychologist, to get an assessment and map out a tutoring plan -- important if free, in-school help isn't available to your child.
Though hiring a private tutor can be expensive, this investment in your child's learning may prevent more serious difficulties later on.
ReadingRockets.org has more on recognizing learning challenges in children and links to more resources.