August 11, 2013

I really thought it would be helpful to share some insights with some moms who might be wondering why their children are writing some of their letters in an opposite direction. Does it matter? Is it something wrong? When I was a teacher, I taught many students who were writing some or all of their letters from bottom to top (also known as vertical reversal). For that reason, I decided to briefly explain what vertical reversal in writing is and things we can do to help our children correct this writing style.

Vertical reversal in writing is usually caused by discrepancies between the child’s eye and hand dominance. For example, a child might be left-eye dominant but right-handed, or vice versa. Since writing requires simultaneous hand-eye coordination, this visual-motor integration discrepancy can cause confusion in the child’s brain during the process of writing. As a result, the child’s brain has to work harder to process the skills needed to write, which can be exhausting.
Vertical reversal can be corrected by using a combination of fine-motor/kinesthetic (finger tracing), visual (teach the child to visualize the letter), auditory (child listens to an adult describe the letter), oral (teach the child to say out loud the actions required to write a letter while writing it), and motor planning skills (teach the child to think about the sequence needed to write a letter).
Helping children remember how to write their letters correctly and associate the sounds they make were primary reasons my husband and I developed an alphabet book called “Crazy Town Upside Down”. When I was teaching my students, I created funny stories to help them remember the letters and was using a combination of these skills (kinesthetic, visual, etc.) to help them practice writing. These strategies really helped them remember how to write the letters, especially the ones they were reversing vertically. When I developed this book, my plan was to help children associate the letters with their stories. In addition, the characters’ actions are also associated with the actions/steps needed to write a letter. For example, the other day I asked my son (he’s 5 years old) how to write the letter “a”. He thought for a second and wrote the letter “a” with his finger in the air. He started correctly, counterclockwise, and then from the top to the bottom. I asked him how he remembered to write the letter “a” and he said, “Alex the acrobat! She does cartwheels around the loop (he made the gesture again with his index finger), gets to the top, and then she does a flip down into the bowl of soup!” In that case, my son used the words in sequence such as “around, “top”, and “down”.
There is nothing wrong with children who write a few of the letters from the bottom up. Sometimes, it’s just how their brains are wired. However, it’s probably a good idea to help them correct this writing style, if only to minimize the level of stress/energy when writing.
Hope this helps all moms who are a little concerned about their little ones writing letters in an opposite direction.
 
Wish you all the best,
Vanessa

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