How to Stop Confusing b and d Letter Reversals When Writing

It is not uncommon at all for a child learning how to write to reverse or confuse some letters. The letters “b” and “d” are two of the most common letters reversed by young children learning to write, even after they’ve had a lot of practice.

My child was no exception. In fact, it is very very common for first graders to reverse their letters. If your child is still doing this at an older age, you might want to speak with a medical professional to ensure (s)he doesn’t have a learning disability if the rest of their reading and writing is on par for their grade level.

I utilized a lot of different “tricks” to teach the difference between “b” and “d”, but she just didn’t grasp it long haul. Then someone told us that “b” has a “belly” and “d” has a “diaper”. She thought the fact that “d” had a diaper was hilarious, so I knew we had something to work with there.

What I had to help her still overcome was how to visualize which way the b and d face. Most kids don’t inherently know that we read from the left side of the page to the right side of the page. That means, the diaper is always on the left side of the page and the belly is always ready to head forward across the page.

I created a “b and d letter reversal poster” that we could put up on the wall, so that she could see it whenever she was writing.  Then I created a few variations of the poster that she could color and decorate throughout the week to reinforce the concept.  It worked for us.

I think the most important thing for you to remember is to a child learning to read and write, b, d, p, and q are all really the same letter. They’re simply turned or rotated in different directions. That is why it is so common for kids learning to write to reverse or flip them around. The best way to help your child master letter reversal is to help them practice writing. Repetition is key.

And remember it is normal for children to reverse letters through second grade. Most experts agree that if your child doesn’t shake the b/d reversal habit by third grade, it’s a good idea to find find your child the right support to help discover why.

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