Correcting Letter-Number Reversals
Letter-number reversal is a common difficulty parents and teachers see in young children. Many people believe reversals to be a sign of dyslexia or dysgraphia, but a learning disability is rarely the case!
Parents and teachers generally should not be concerned unless children exhibit letter reversal past age eight. More often, children simply aren’t noting the direction the letters should be facing. It takes time for children to learn the correct directionality. They must first master left-to-right strokes, but this can sometimes cause difficulty with letters such as “j” and “s,” which require right-to-left strokes.
Fortunately, this is a problem that can be corrected with a series of activities designed to help your child master those tough letters and numbers! Try these techniques with your child:
- Begin by identifying the letters and numbers your child reverses and encourage practicing correct letter or number formation daily.
- Guide your child’s hand, providing the feeling of directionality.
- Highlight trouble numbers and letters in magazines or Workbooks.
- Ask your child to trace difficult letters and numbers in magazines, newspapers, etc.
- Keep a list of the most commonly used numbers or letters that he or she reverses. This list can be used as a reference for your child to double-check troublesome words.
- Use Whiteboard activities to teach proper directionality of each letter and numeral.
- Place letters on transparencies and project them on the whiteboard or paper. Ask your child to trace the letters.
- Give your child a card with the Word bed to keep at school as a reminder of the correct form of b and d.
- Ask your child to scan ﬁve typewritten lines containing only letters or numbers that are confusing (e.g., bdbddbdbdbdbdbdbdbd). Ask him or her to underline only the b or d. This can also be used for the numbers 6 and 9.
- Write commonly reversed letters and numbers on cut-up index cards, and play a sorting or matching game!
- Practice writing letters, words, and sentences by tracing over a series of dots.
- Write on paper with raised lines. You can make this paper by using puffy paint or glue.
- When correcting papers with reversed letters, use arrows to remind your child of correct directionality.
- Encourage your child to proofread all of his or her writing using letter/number/word stencils.
It’s also a good idea to work with your child’s teacher to further improve your child’s handwriting. If you have further questions, here are a few great resources:
The Source for Dyslexia and Dysgraphia by Regina G. Richards. Lingui Systems, Inc.
Handwriting Research and Resources. “Handwriting in an Early Childhood Curriculum” by Linda Leonard Lamme. Zaner-Bloser.
“Letter Reversals: A sign of Dyslexia or Normal?” by Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts (http://school.familyeducation.com/study-skills/ alphabet/41 l43.html)
“Overcoming Letter Reversals in Writing” (http://kirkwoodschools.org/faculty/solomoi/Overcoming%20Letter%20Reversals /)
“Five-Year-Old Writes Backward” by Shari Nethersole, M.D. (http://lifefamilyeducation.com/cognitive-development/early- learning/42297.html)