|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Five-Year-Old Writes Backwards

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: My five-year-old granddaughter, when trying her skills at writing, usually starts on the right side of the paper rather that the left. About half of the time she mixes her Bs and Ds and makes her S backwards. She has been in a structured day care and is getting ready for kindergarten this fall. Any need for concern, especially about dyslexia?

A: There is no need for concern if your granddaughter is otherwise well. It is completely normal for children to write "backwards" at this age. In addition to letter and number reversals, some children will truly write in mirror image: going from right to left with all the letters reversed. There is nothing wrong with this. The brain does not completely form the concept of left and right until somewhere between ages five and eight. This means that almost all children will have persistent reversals when they first start writing.

You should definitely not stop your granddaughter from writing in this way, or even make her correct it. If she asks if it is correct, you should point out the errors, but don't make a big deal of it. The more that children write, the easier it becomes for them. You don't want to limit your granddaughter's creativity by constantly pointing out what is wrong. When she learned to walk, you wouldn't have dreamed of telling her to stop because she couldn't do it properly, or of trying to correct her and give her lessons. Similarly, with writing, children should be free to practice and make multiple mistakes without corrections or limitations. By first grade, teachers will start asking children to correct their reversals, and by the end of second grade almost all children have stopped doing it completely.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Need some fun ideas for decorating Easter eggs with the kids? Look no further for colorful and cool designs!

7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence
American children are exposed to violence more often than you might think. Learn how to limit your child's exposure to violence and manage the mental health and behavioral effects it can cause.