Why do some kids write numbers backwards?

By Elizabeth Babbin, EdD

Lots of young kids write numbers backwards. (Teachers may call it reversal.) In fact, it’s developmentally appropriate for kids under 7. But when kids are still reversing numbers after age 7, they may need extra help learning to write them correctly. 

When kids have trouble writing numbers the right way, it’s not a problem with understanding math. The numbers they’re using are correct — they’re just written incorrectly. Instead, it’s an issue of how their brain processes what they see.

Writing numbers backwards can cause challenges in math class or with homework, but it doesn’t mean kids are “bad at math.” 

Keep in mind, too, that some kids have a related difficulty that can impact math. They transpose numbers. Instead of writing 32, they’ll write 23. That throws off their computation and leads to wrong answers.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Elizabeth Babbin, EdD is an instructional specialist at Lower Macungie Middle School in Macungie, Pennsylvania.