Why does my daughter write backwards?

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Lindi Mphuthi

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Why does my daughter write backwards?
« on: 15/05/2010 08:30:02 »
Lindi Mphuthi  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris,
I listened to your show on Radio 702 this morning for the first time, and must say I was really impressed.
I have a 6 years old daughter, who is in Grade R and recently discovered that when she writes, her letters are in reversal (facing the other way). For example, her name is Hlompho and she writes it this way: ohpmolH. I have tried to write it the wrong way for her to copy it the right way, with no luck. She is left handed and I thought that might be a contributing factor.
Is there anything I can do to rectify this?? Is this common in children her age??

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 15/05/2010 08:30:02 by _system »


Offline chris

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Why does my daughter write backwards?
« Reply #1 on: 15/05/2010 12:02:02 »
That's funny - my daughter does exactly the same thing - and she's left handed too! At three and a half years old, she's a bit younger than your daughter, but both my wife and I have commented that the handedness seems to be the cause, because it's more comfortable for her to form the letters backwards - so her name usually ends up back to front.

We've not tried your clever idea of reversing the letters for copying, but that would be interesting, to see what happens!

Thanks for the kind words about the show.

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception - Groucho Marx


Offline k8

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Why does my daughter write backwards?
« Reply #2 on: 15/05/2010 13:06:32 »
my son used to do the same,
to keep up his confidence, when he did so, i would say, wow - that's cool, you're doing/you can do 'mirror writing'! and explain what i meant by that and point out the differences,
and over time i also explained how, for some reason writing in English evolved to write 'non mirror writing', but it could have just as easily evolved differently. and also said about in some languages they write from right to left, rather than left to right,

and he often would label the 'mirror writing' with a 'M'(i can't remember if that was his idea or mine), so as to 'let people know' it was mirror writing! especially important to do so, i encouraged him, on numbers and letters such as b d p and q, so people reading it don't get confused.

with the occasional encouragement, 'how about trying doing this word in non-mirror writing',
as well as activity books like Magical Skills - Handwriting, which does non mirror writing,
and us reading together, and the labels etc,
by and by he increasingly did more and more 'non mirror' writing,
he's 6 now- and is more than fine with his letters... I'm glad i took the chilled approach....i do similar with spelling, taking the attitude, that, at this young age especially, as long as we can tell what it says, thats the main thing, but also saying do you want to know the 'normal' way of spelling it? and my son often asks how to spell it 'normally' without my offering! these things depend on the kid i expect, but it works well for kids who like their independence like my son does.

from what i think a lot of kids write backwards for some reason, like you, i wonder why that is?
a friend thought perhaps it was because her daughter saw writing inside a bus, and as it was on the window
it looked to them inside the bus as 'backwards writing', but my son didn't have the same experiences hardly at all, as our local buses don't have that, plus as we read many books together, most writing he sees is 'non mirror' writing, so i really don't think it's that.

perhaps it's to do with perceptions? our eyes and brain? but then its interesting that you tried writing backwards, and your child still wrote backwards.....

 in order to give confidence to the child, and to keep the child motivated in learning to write, i personally find that it's important not to label backwards writing as 'wrong', but just a different way of writing that some people may have difficulty reading..... as really that is what it is,
it just happens that along the way it was decided that we write in the way we normally do....
(and this higher perspective of life is valuable education in itself!)
....and by and by kids are likely to do so too, they make it in their own time
and i felt that any writing practice, even if it's 'backwards', is useful i think, as they learn to make the shapes for writing etc, and that's the main task when first learning to write. and when mastering the skills to write, its easy enough to change to 'normal' writing ways...
plus those that did some backward writing when little may often, like my son does, have the extra ability to read mirror writing easily (and probably write it too, but i haven't asked him too)


Offline k8

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Why does my daughter write backwards?
« Reply #3 on: 15/05/2010 13:13:38 »
I'll just add, that my son is left handed too, though my friend's daughter I'm quite sure isn't left handed.

With my son there was a possibility that it was dyslexia, as myself and his dad has dyslexia, increases his chances, but just as i had thought, the teacher and educational officer said that it would be impossible to tell this at a young age (probably under 8/9 or so?), as so many kids do reversed letters, so couldn't put it down to dyslexia either. (plus my son does well though with spelling and writing letters for his age now.)

but it does seem a synchronisty that all the children of authors of these three posts are left handed.....