Tips for Dealing with Letter Reversals

Year Level: Early Years, Foundation, Year 1 & 2

Reversing Letters in Early Years, Foundation and early Year 1

Many young children reverse letters because they lack familiarity with the symbols. When learning to write letters in the Early Years, Foundation and early Year 1, this is a common occurrence, ideally, reversals should not be present beyond seven years of age.

Verbal Cues and Starting Points
It is valuable to learn letters as movements rather than as visual shapes. This gives children a mechanism for remembering visually confusing letters. If the letters are taught effectively, with starting points and verbal cues, the motor memory of each letter will be paired with the phoneme and reversals will be minimised.

Tips for Dealing with Reversals

Remember, ongoing practice copying the letter is always preferable to continuing to practice it incorrectly.

  1. Ample practice is important to enable over-learning of new movements to occur.
  2. Choose one reversal per session to focus on, demonstrating first, then the child imitates.
  3. Verbal cues are crucial to reinforce correct letter formation.
  4. Use starting points and direction arrows.
  5. Use the non-dominant index finger (as well as the dominant index finger) to trace the direction of the letter.
  6. Teach ways to discriminate confused letters.
  7. Use a multi-sensory approach to teach the letters e.g: Students write letters in the air with the pointer finger and large arm movements (try it with eyes open, then eyes closed).
  8. For students with persistent reversals, the use of a desk template is helpful as it provides a model of the particular letter(s) to copy as required.

Students who Continue to Reverse Letters
Students who continue to reverse letters may experience difficulty with positions-in-space. The confusion relates to the position the parts of the letter(s) occupy in relation to one another (i.e. is the circle to the left or the right of the line?) and the position the symbol occupies in the overall space of the paper (i.e. is the symbol formed above or below the writing line on the paper?).

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