19 answers

5 Year Old Writing Letters and Numbers Backwards

My 5 year old is finishing kindergarten and is still writing some of his letters and numbers backwards (his teacher calls them "reversals"). Just last week he told me that a 2 and a 5 were the same number. A friend said that kids think of letters and numbers like anything else - a chair in any position is still a chair. Is this something I should be worried about or just wait for him to outgrow it? thanks!

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Thank you all for the reassurance! We will just keep a close watch on his progress and work with him over the summer. Thanks again!

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I go through it constantly--even when my 5 year old has demonstrated she can do it right. She'll revert unless she gets daily practice. I was told it's normal...let's hope so!! The problems are 3, 5, 7, b, d, and z.

Hi J.-

This is completely normal. Some kids do this into 1st or even second grade. If a teacher was worried he had a problem, I think they would say so... especially if you asked. they cannot diagnose. they cannot tell you he has dyslexia, but they can tell you it is worth looking into. All of my children reversed letters for a time. My third grader DOES not reverse letter... my point is that most outgrow it. Schools have kids writing and reading VERY early these days and it is over-taxing their brains.

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Half of my son's 1st grade class was doing that part-way through the school year. Now with just a few weeks left in 1st grade, though, almost all the kids are writing correctly and not doing it. My son still reverses a few letters once in awhile (mostly when he's rushing) and he'll be going into the gifted & talented program next year. It's normal and nothing to worry about at this age.

Children's eye muscles have not developped enough at this age to reliably see the letters and numbers correctly. Reversals are perfectly normal at this age. I'm sure that he understands the difference between 2 pieces of candy and 5! If he doesn't then you do have something to worry about. There are other symptoms of dyslexia, if letter reversals are the only problem, then he's just fine and he'll out grow it in a year or so.

Hi J., I am an occupational therapist and work alot with kids and handwriting. This is totally normal for your 5yr. old. Especially wiht 5,2, p,b,d,q. Just keep practicing the correct form, tracing, etc. and they will do great! This could be something to address with your school OT for next year if you think it may help to have OT in school. Your child would need an IEP, but would be something to think about. Hope this helps.

Hi J.-

This is completely normal. Some kids do this into 1st or even second grade. If a teacher was worried he had a problem, I think they would say so... especially if you asked. they cannot diagnose. they cannot tell you he has dyslexia, but they can tell you it is worth looking into. All of my children reversed letters for a time. My third grader DOES not reverse letter... my point is that most outgrow it. Schools have kids writing and reading VERY early these days and it is over-taxing their brains.

My daughter started out the year doing the same thing. I'm seeing very little of it anymore, just with the letters and numbers that are similar to each other like b and d, 2 and 5. My daughter is turning six this month and I've stopped worrying about it because I have seen a big change throughout the schoolyear. I would say not to be concerned unless he hasn't gotten any better about it. If and when it is a cause for concern his teacher will let you know

My daughter did that too. I was told it's perfectly normal.

As a previous K teacher and now SAHM of five, it is totally normal! The more exposure he has to letters & numbers, the more he will 'get it.' Don't worry! :)

I would keep an eye on it. Sometimes it is just normal until they understand which way it goes. In my case I was dyslexic (sp?). Good luck to you!!

I'm a kindergarten teacher and it's very common at this age. It is considered "normal" or developmentally appropriate until the end of 2nd grade. Good luck!

ny grandaughters kindergarten teacher says it's perfectly normal for kids to do this even into first grade. My GD is in the top of her class and is still doing some reverse letters and numbers.

Your son could have Dyslexia and he should really have his eyes checked. It is like a short circuit in the brain where you see numbers and letters backwards. My cousin had it bad and wrote all of her spelling words backwards, she flunked her test but if you held it up to a mirror it was perfect.It took lots of special studing with a tutor but she graduated top of her class in 1980.

my son is finishing up 1st grade now. when he was in kindergarten he did the same thing. we went & got him a dry erase board(24inX18in), and would write out letters & numbers & then have him copy them below where we wrote them & if he messed up it was easily erased. it also helped with his learning to read. now we buy him one subject notebooks(his journals) & he writes non stop. his teacher told me that children do reversals all the time starting out & they don't tend to worry unless by the end of first continuing from there, then they test for dixlesia. good luck.

Is he a young kindergartener? Is his teacher recomending for him to move on to first grade or does she think he should repeat Kindergarten?

I think children writting numbers and letters backwards is normal. I am not sure about the whole thinking 2 and 5 are the same number. I would talk to his teacher and see what she thinks and go with that.

Good Luck

I would take him to see an eye Dr. I had dyslexia when I was young and this is exactly what I did. It can cause him problems his entire life. More so with math but in reading and writing. If it turns out to be nothing that is great but my belief is better safe than sorry!! GOOD LUCK!

he'll out grow it. Just keep reinforcing the correct way to do these numbers and letters. My son did the same thing and so did my nephew.

Reversals are developmentally appropriate at this age, but you should be vigalant in watching him over then next 18 months for signs that he is making rappid growth. If you do not see this go away in rappid order by the summer before he begins second grade, or during his first grade year, have him evaluated by an occupational therapist and a developmental optomitrist sooner rather than later. By rappid I mean that you no longer question that he has any problem at all with this and that he writes all the letters and numbers forward, if he is only improving and it is still even a partial issue, get the evaluation anyway.

Reversals are not a sign of dyslexia, dyslexia is very often comorbid with visual perceptual and visual processing problems, but they are very, very different issues that each require specific and very different targeted early intervention so that the child can reach full potential. By all means, if next year you notice that your son has trouble manipulating the sounds of speech into words and is not picking up on phonics or has any trouble learning to read, have a full scale evaluation at the earliest possible time. So, my advice after years of working as an educational advocate for kids with learning disabilites is that if this does not imporove very rappidly and he has any other issue that make you ask "is this typical?" then you should get your own private evaluation as soon as you can, then ask the school for help. Not that the school is not responsible for intervention and indentification, but you need to know more than they do at all times and you should always own your own evaluations. The school has much less at stake in your son's development than you do. Take this as a gift, and calmly pay VERY close attention for the next few years. "Early" is the biggest gift you can give him if he has an issue.

Good luck
M.

This is pretty normal. BUT wouldn't hurt to monitor it. Is he in kindergarten this year, or does he start in the fall?

My mother is a retired special ed teacher and said it's VERY normal. Just to keep showing them and reminding them what's what. Counting books can help, and just keep reviewing.

Hi J.,
Don't worry! I have been teaching for 10 years and it is developmentally normal. Your child will probably outgrow it. If he or she is still doing it in 2nd grade you might want to look into it.

I go through it constantly--even when my 5 year old has demonstrated she can do it right. She'll revert unless she gets daily practice. I was told it's normal...let's hope so!! The problems are 3, 5, 7, b, d, and z.

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