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Writing issues

Should I Be Worried About My Child Reversing Letters?

By Elizabeth Babbin

Should I be worried about my child reversing letters like b, d, p or q? Why is my child having trouble forming letters correctly?

Elizabeth Babbin

Instructional Support Teacher

Most young writers reverse these letters. It’s a common occurrence through second grade. So if your kindergartner is flipping his b and d, don’t panic! Many parents see these small mistakes and jump to the conclusion that their child has dyslexia. But that’s usually not the case.

When you think about it, b, d, p and q are all really the same letter. They’re just turned in different directions.

It’s also not unusual for young children to write words entirely backwards, such as writing gip instead of pig. Another common trouble spot for new writers is confusion between 2 and s.

None of these mix-ups are cause for alarm unless your child is older than 7. In fact, letter reversals are developmentally appropriate for young writers. As children do more writing, these mistakes will usually disappear on their own.

But it’s still important for kids to practice writing letters and words in the correct directions. Point out errors gently and kindly, and offer help if your child is confused or frustrated about which direction the letter should face.

The vast majority of children will grow out of this stage on their own. But what if they don’t? If your child is in the third grade, or is 8 years old and can’t seem to shake the b/d reversal habit, it’s a good idea to start to investigate further. Ask his teacher or guidance counselor about it. They might recommend an evaluation to determine whether there is reason to be concerned.

About the Author

Portrait of Elizabeth Babbin

Elizabeth Babbin

Elizabeth Babbin, M.Ed., is the instructional support teacher at Lower Macungie Middle School in Macungie, Pennsylvania.

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