Why Children Reverse Letters

Letter reversal

Children will reverse their letters when writing because they have not yet established their internal reference point with respect to left and right.

Developing this internal knowledge of left and right, is also referred to as ‘establishing the midline‘. It is critical to developing foundation literacy skills and can easily be taught.

An established and unshakable ‘midline allows solid imprinting of:

  • Starting points of letters
  • An understanding of which direction to move in to permanently achieve correct letter formation

The ‘midline’

MidlineNo matter in which direction we face, or even if we are standing on our head, our left is always our left and our right is always our right.

To recognise that their own left and right never change position, children need to establish their own midline – the imaginary line down the middle of their bodies.

Without the midline being established, correct letter formation will be ‘hit and miss’.

When speaking to parents, I often explain the impact of a fragile midline in this way:

If, one day, the child sits at a table and the window is on their right, they will align the starting point of the letter with respect to the external reference point of the window

If, the next day, that fixed reference point, the window, is on their left (because they have changed seats) they will still align the starting point of the letter with the window – and end up with the letter being reversed.

It is critical, that the child develop a strong enough internal reference point that they are able to align the starting point of the letter with their own, constant, internal left and right.

How to help children write letters facing the correct way

correct way

Using Launch Literacy Program will help children establish automatic, correct writing patterns by providing:

1. Fun activities to establish the child’s midline

2. Opportunities to trace letters following clearly defined starting points

3. Opportunities to generate their own letters guided by starting points

4. Increased complexity of writing tasks progressing from single letters to words and then sentences

5. Opportunities to practice and proudly showcase their excellent letter formation in boxed and dotted third books

It is important that we keep in mind that the concept of the midline (sometimes also referred to as ‘laterality’) is not the same as ‘directionality’ which is external awareness of left and right. This is why some children will be reversing their letters but be fantastic at knowing in which direction to walk to get to the shops.

We hope that we have helped you to understand this potentially confusing concept. Working through the Launch Literacy Program is a fun and simple way to help establish the child’s midline so that their letters face the right way!

Launch Literacy Program
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