It is common for preschoolers and kindergartners to reverse letters, but by age seven, children should only be making occasional reversals. If letter reversals persist after handwriting remediation, they can be a sign of dyslexia or other learning disability, in which case further testing might be indicated.

Regardless of whether or not a child has a learning disability, he or she should be instructed in how to form letters & numbers correctly to prevent reversals. If your child is learning to write by simply copying letters, it is unlikely that he or she will learn proper letter formation. Since repeated errors only reinforce reversals, it’s important to work toward error-free learning. It’s much easier to develop good habits than to change bad ones; so early intervention is critical! Here are 9 tips to help correct letter reversals with your child:

1. Help your child establish a visual memory or “picture” of each letter along with the letter name and sound. Children who exhibit reversals frequently confuse reversible letters such as ‘b’ and ‘d’ because they have trouble pulling them from memory. Play “Memory” or “Go Fish” using the letters the child tends to reverse. Have them do a letter search by circling all of the letters your child has difficulty with (‘b’s, ‘d’s, etc.) within an article, or have them match pictures to the letters the picture starts with.

2. Teach directionality. Most reversals are left/right inversions like b/d and p/q, rather than up/down inversions like n/u or m/w. For more information about this topic click here.

3. Prevent reversals from occurring by teaching proper letter formation and grouping letters with similar stroke patterns. For example, the “Magic C Letters” ‘c,’ ‘a,’ ‘d,’ ‘g,’ ‘o,’ and ‘q,’ all begin with a “c stroke,” which helps create a stronger visual memory of the letters.

4. Model proper letter/number formations to demonstrate the necessary arm motions and stroke sequences. Yes, this means you need to know how to form them properly too. 🙂 Click on the links below for Handwriting Without Tears Letter Formation Charts:

Capital Letters

Lowercase Letters

Numbers

5. Use the Handwriting Without Tears Wet-Dry-Try activity, using their slate chalkboard or Wet-Dry-Try App to reinforce proper letter/number formation.

6. Focus on remediating one letter or number at a time, so that multiple correct repetitions of practice are possible. For instance, have your child write as many words as possible beginning with the letter or number you are working on. Another option is to roll dice and then write the letter the same number of times the dice say. This activity is also a great way to work on number identification and addition skills. A third idea is to play Tic-Tac-Toe using the letters or numbers that are challenging for your child.

7. Use multisensory activities to keep practice fun and engaging. Make letters out of different materials such as Play-Doh, Wikki Stix, or sandpaper, and then finger trace them. Write letters in a tray filled with sand, shaving cream, or rice.

8. Practice daily for multiple days to help develop new habits. Just 5-10 minutes of daily practice will help reinforce proper letter formation.

9. Contact us for a handwriting assessment and individualized instruction/remediation. The best way to prevent reversals is through proper early instruction. If your child exhibits reversals, focused intervention is the key to helping him or her become a successful writer.


About Skills 4 Life:

Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers a broad range of pediatric occupational therapy services to help your child master age-appropriate developmental skills, become more independent, increase academic success & develop confidence. The experts at Skills 4 Life specialize in handwriting, keyboarding & executive function coaching, but also work with children on social & emotional learning, motor skills, self-regulation strategies & activities of daily living. Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers your child a safe, compassionate environment to learn the critical skills they need to be successful. Learn more about our team & services at www.skills4lifeot.com, or you can contact our office by email at karina@skills4lifeot.com or by phone at 303.351.1828 for a free consultation.