Should You Worry About A Child Who Writes Backwards?

The following continues our series of questions commonly asked by mothers teaching thier children to write.

Should You Worry About A Child Who Writes Backwards?

Q: My four-year-old daughter occassionally writes some letters backwards. I have not yet corrected her when this happens, should I?

A: It is natural for young children to reverse some letters and even some words when they are first learning to write. After all, the letters do look very like one another and due to the great visual effort involved, some confusion can result. Trust yourself to be a good judge of when to begin by gently pointing out improvements to make. This can begin once a child is in fact feeling consistently successful in writing, and is writing several words independently.

Crawling, creeping and brachiation can help children progress through this stage (or even bypass it) by continually promoting and improving upon a child’s visual abilities and general neurological maturity. In the early stages of writing, as an example, two eyes must work perfectly together to accomplish such a sophisticated intellectual and physical feat. When the eyes do not always maintain this coordination, visual confusion and therefore reading and writing difficulties can arise.

Later, the development of hemispheric dominance, from the ages of three to six, helps greatly to solve this problem. In this final stage of development one side of the body-eye, ear, hand and foot, takes over the most highly skilled functions such as reading and writing. Thus, the enormous effort involved in coordinating two sides for activities more efficiently accomplished by just one is eliminated. Once true one-sided laterality takes place in a child problems such as reversals disappear.

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