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How to Solve Letter Reversals

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

Struggling with Letter Reversals?

It is easy to see how letter reversals happen: flip the b and it becomes a d. Flip it down and it becomes a p, flip it again and it becomes a q. Basically b, d, p, and q are all the same shape, they are just sitting in space differently.

The beginning reader or dyslexic student may not realize that the direction of the letter matters, or he may not be able to remember which letter is which.

What’s Considered Normal?

It’s normal and expected that most young children will reverse letters or words.

The distinction appears with the frequency, the age of the child, and the extent at which the child reverses letters.

“Children need a mental age of 5 ½ to 6 ½ to overcome ‘up-down’ (vertical) reversals and 7 ½ for ‘left-right’ (horizontal) reversals." (Harman, 1982)

Older elementary children should grasp the concept of directionality and no longer demonstrate problems with reversals. If reversals continue into second and third grade, then remedial measures may need to be looked at.

There are Proven Methods to Eliminate Letter Reversals

Systematic and Explicit Handwriting Instruction

Letters and numbers are taught using specific visual and verbal cues.

This intervention targets visual learners and auditory learners. It engages visual, auditory and motor memory, so it uses more neural networks improving recall of the specific letters and their directionality.

Build Working Memory

Letters are taught using working memory.

This is one of the only research proven methods to reduce reversals substantially. After each letter is introduced and taught using visual and verbal cues, the letters are written from memory reciting the cues.

Visual Tracking

Letters are taught using visual tracking exercises.

Visual tracking exercises build attention to detail, like which direction a letter is facing. As each letter is repeatedly tracked, the brain takes another mental picture and this builds automaticity.

Brain Balancing

Letters are taught using hemispheric integration.

Hemispheric integration, or brain balancing, exercises take the target letter and build automaticity while building neural networks using simple brain training games. While the brain regularly switches between left and right brain dominance, some activities are normally handled in an identifiable area. By forcing the brain to identify colors (right brain activity) and letters (left brain activity), new neural networks are built connecting the hemispheres.

Word Reading

Practice leads to mastery.

Students practice mastery of the target letter by reading a list of words that contain the letter. Often the list is organized from simple CVC words to more complex words. After those words are mastered, the student moves on to read words with the target letter and distractors (the letter that is commonly mistaken for the target letter, i.e. 'd' would be a distractor for 'b'.)

Word Dictation

Letter memory is reinforced using writing practice.

Students continue to practice the target letter with dictation exercises using the words in the reading exercise. Following the above format, simple CVC words are taught first, and so on.

Kinesthetic Activities

Letters are taught using games and hands on activities.

Adding games and kinesthetic activities drive the target letter into many different parts of the brain helping with automaticity.

This systematic way of teaching troublesome letters uses several techniques proven to improve memory and ability:

· Spaced Repetition

· Micro Learning

· Visual Memory

· Auditory Memory

· Motor Memory

· Brain Training

For More Help With Letter Reversals

Flipping Letters: Techniques to Eliminate Letter and Number Reversals integrates all of the techniques listed here. In a simple day by day, page by page layout, students work through each target letter, one at a time.

If they have consistent problems, students can work on one target letter repeatedly (recommended).

The entire program is available as an easy to download and printable PDF file.

We’ve pulled together all of the best techniques and given them to you here in an easy to follow program, just print and hand the pages to your student.

And as a BONUS: The Left Right Reversal Screening Tool is included in the book!

Buy it now! Flipping Letters

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