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How to Solve Letter Reversals

How to Solve Letter Reversals from All About Learning Press

Struggling with Letter Reversals?

It is easy to see how letter reversals happen: flip the b and it becomes a d. The beginning reader or dyslexic child may not realize that the direction of the letter matters, or he may not be able to remember which letter is which.

Letters that are mirror images of each other are more likely to be confused, including letters b and d, p and d, p and q, and n and u.

Fortunately, most of the letters of the alphabet have unique shapes, so no matter which way you turn them, they can’t be confused with any others. For example, the letter m looks quite different from the letter x, and f is not likely to be confused with the letter z.

What Is Considered Normal?

If your child is between the ages of three and seven, is just starting to read, and makes occasional letter reversals when reading or writing, it’s perfectly normal. It doesn’t mean that your child has dyslexia or a reading disability. Make a gentle correction and move on.

But if your child is eight years or older, has had prior reading instruction, and is making frequent reversal errors, it is important to take action to solve the letter confusion.

As reading instructors, we have two jobs to do regarding letter reversals:

  1. Try to prevent confusion.
  2. Where confusion exists, resolve it.

How to Prevent Letter Confusion Before It Begins

The All About Reading program is carefully structured to minimize the likelihood of letter reversals. We teach the sounds of potentially confusing letters like b and d in separate lessons. The child’s task is simplified because he only has to make one new visual discrimination at a time.

When your child is learning to print, be sure to teach correct letter formation. Doing so is critical to prevent confusion.

When forming the letter b, start with the stick first, followed by the circle. The star indicates the starting position.

How to form the letter "b" to prevent letter confusion

To write the letter d, start with the circle first, followed by the stick. Again, the star indicates the starting position.

How to form the letter "d" to prevent letter confusion

Have your child use lined paper so it is clear where the circle is in relation to the stick. Also be sure your student does not lift the pencil from the paper when writing any of the confusable letters.

If Your Child Already Reverses Letters

If you are working with older learners, it may be too late to prevent confusion. They may have had a few false starts in reading, and may have already confused these troublemakers. They may encounter the letter b and misinterpret it as the letter d. They may read the word bad as dab, or fad as fab. You might give a gentle correction, pull out the corresponding Phonogram Cards, and re-teach the letters separately, but your student still mixes them up. If that is the case, read on to discover four effective methods to solve the problem.

Four Methods to Solve Tough Reversal Problems

The demonstrations below are for correcting b and d reversals (the most common letter reversals), but the same concepts can be applied to any letter or number. You may only need to use one of these methods, but for really resistant cases, you will need to use all four methods.

Please note that it’s important to concentrate on just one letter per session. Wait until that letter is completely mastered before teaching another letter.

Method 1: Teach the letters b and d using tactile surfaces.

Solve letter reversals with tactile surfaces

Have a variety of tactile surfaces for your child to choose from. Possibilities include flannel fabric, corrugated cardboard, very fine sandpaper, fluffy fur fabric, or a carpet square. Ask him which surface reminds him of the letter b, and then cut a large lowercase b out of the chosen tactile surface.

Using the pointer finger of his dominant hand, have your child trace the letter b on the textured surface. Be sure that he starts and ends in the correct place. Practice until he can easily write the letter b.

When your child is ready to go on to a new letter, choose a different textured surface. If fine sandpaper was used for the letter b, perhaps furry fabric can be used for the letter d.

Method 2: Use “air writing” to reinforce proper letter formation.

air writing to prevent letter reversals

Another powerful method for correcting letter reversals is “air writing.” Air writing is simple: using the dominant hand, the child uses his entire arm to write letters in the air as he says the sound of the letter. The whole arm should be involved, and the child should pretend that his pointer finger is a pen.

Here, Jimmy demonstrates for us how to use air writing to form the letter b. Notice that his whole arm is involved in order to activate large muscles. He is pretending that his pointer finger is a pen. While he forms the letter b with his arm, he is saying the sound of the letter, /b/.

Brain research shows that two ideas practiced at the same time can permanently bond the ideas together. In this case, the large movements of the arm combined with saying the sound of the letter helps link these two concepts together in your child’s brain.

Additionally, this multisensory activity takes advantage of the fact that the muscles in the shoulder and in the jaw have muscle memory, and this makes it easier for your child to recall the shape and sound of the letter.

Method #3: Teach the letters b and d using analogies.

Explain that the letter b is made up of two shapes: a bat and a ball. Using the tactile surface, demonstrate how you write the bat part of the letter first, followed by the ball.

As you write the letter b, say “bat-ball-/b/,” like this:

Using bat and ball analogy to fix letter reversals

To further clarify which side of the letter the straight line is on, tell your student, First you grab the bat, then you hit the ball. Have your student practice this motion and chant many times over a two-minute time period. Show your student that when you are reading from left to right, you encounter the bat part of the letter first. If he is ever unsure of the sound this letter makes when he sees it, he should think to himself, “bat-ball-/b/.” This will help him recall the sound of the letter b. Repeat the exercise several times a day.

To teach the letter d, you can use the analogy of a doorknob and a door. The doorknob represents the circle part of the letter, and the door represents the straight line, like this:

Using doorknob and door to fix letter reversals

To clarify which side of the letter the straight line is on, tell your student, First you grab the doorknob, then you open the door. Again, practice the motion and chant many times over a two-minute period. Show your student that when you are reading from left to right, you encounter the doorknob part of the letter first. If he is ever unsure of the sound this letter makes when he sees it, he should think to himself, “doorknob-door-/d/.” He will now be able to recall the sound of the letter d. (Download our How to Solve Letter Reversals report for printable bat/ball and doorknob/door graphics.) Repeat the exercise several times a day.

A common analogy to help with b and d confusion is a bed. Though this analogy may help some kids, for others it may require more thought, and for many kids it may not become automatic.

bed analogy to solve letter reversals

Method #4: Help your child notice the shape of our mouths while saying the letter sounds.

When we say /b/, our lips come together in a straight line. Point out that the straight line comes first when you write the letter b.

How to Solve Letter Reversal Problems - All About Reading

When we say /d/, our lips are open. Coincidentally, the circle comes first when you write letter d.

How to Solve Letter Reversal Problems - All About Reading

If Your Child Confuses b with d While Reading

If your child mistakes a b for a d while reading, refer back to the tactile surface activity and air writing that you did together. Point to the misread letter and say, If you wrote this letter, what would this letter say?

If your child can’t answer easily, ask him or her to draw the letter b using air writing. The sound of the letter (/b/- bat) should come more easily this way. Then have your child read the word again.

For More Help with Letter Reversals

Free report about Letter Reversals

This free report illustrates the four methods outlined here, plus it has two printable charts to help you correct b and d reversals.

When students have persistent reversals, reading becomes a struggle and it can be difficult for them to express themselves in writing. You can put an end to that struggle with the information shared in this report!

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Leave a Comment

Sherry-Ann Ali

says:

Tanks so much for the information…….very informative to motivate our little ones…..

Christine Salinas

says:

This is such a helpful blog post that I need to revisit often. I am seeing progress, though. Thank you for all you put into helping us help our children!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Christine,
If you subscribe to our newsletter, you will receive an email each week about our new blog posts.

Meeta.jaisingh

says:

Well explained!

orayb Safi

says:

Amazing thanks a lot for this clarification . Really my pupils need to figure out the difference between the B and the D

Sarah

says:

Do you have any recommendations for a 6 year old who reverses the numbers 4, 5, 6, & 7? She seems to have a harder time with numbers then letters.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
Some of the methods in this blog post can be adapted for numbers.

Make sure to separate the practice time for writing the numbers from math time, and work on one number at a time. (When reversals come up as your child does math, just gently correct and move on.)

You can try the tactile surface, air-writing, and analogy strategies as described in the article. Make sure to use different tactile surfaces for each number.

With the air-writing one, since there isn’t a sound for numbers, have her say the number to help link the two concepts. You could also try counting, as in: 6. 1-2-3-4-5-6.

Multisensory activities take advantage of the fact that the muscles in the shoulder and in the jaw have “muscle memory,” and this makes it easier for your child to recall the shape of the number.

You may want to try short practice times of just 1-3 minutes a few times per day. Try making one number a focus of the week, and work on that one every day. Put a poster of the number up, label things around the house, practice making it in different mediums, and so on.

Then, when she miswrites a number, you can have her draw the number using air writing. Then have your child read the number again.

Handwriting without Tears has wonderful instruction for number formation as well as letters. For kids who struggle a lot with reversals, it might be worth taking a look at the instructions. We used their mini chalk-board for awhile and that helped with number reversals here. That helped especially with 5’s here, though it was hard to break the habit of starting with the “hat” first!

If your child reverses multi-digit numbers (for example, reads “19″ as “91″), encourage her to draw a directional arrow by the numbers pointing toward the right to remind her the direction to read the numbers. One of my children used to subtract “up” if the number on top in the ones column was smaller than the number on the bottom. Drawing a down arrow by all of the subtraction problems was helpful for that.

Tip from a fan on the blog: Another idea that I used was to masking tape big numbers on the floor, and walk/jump/hop etc along the line. If there was a spot where you lift your pen, my kids had to jump from one point to the next.

sarah

says:

My daughter had trouble with reversals…and we tried the ball and bat, and doorknob and door, but the place I read about it didn’t explain nearly as well as you did on here, so she was just as confused because she couldn’t remember if the ball or bat came first, etc. However, one day she just made up her own way of remembering… She said “mom look… the d Disobeys her Dad… because she faces the opposite way…the bumps on b and B both go the same way.” It was outside the box of ideas I had tried, but it worked for her. I’m finding that when she hits a bump in the road with learning and the conventional ways aren’t working…sometimes the most effective tricks are the ones she helps come up with…

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
This is great! A student’s own memory tricks for difficult things are often much more effect, because they understand it much more completely. It was their own idea! Thanks for sharing this.

Paula Cavanaugh

says:

What about reversals that do not include b and d? My daughter consistently writes the letter j backward. She’s 6. She can tell you verbally how it is supposed to be written, but whenever she writes it, she writes it backward. If you point it out to her, she can look at it and tell what she has done, so it’s not like she’s seeing it incorrectly. She does the same thing to z, but less consistently.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Paula,
Methods #1 and 2 of this blog post will work with any reversal, and if you can come up with a little story or something you can make #3 work as well.

Someone recently posted that she reminds her child of the correct formation of Z by saying something along the lines of, “The bee buzzzzzzzzzes left to right, then left to right again. Just like the direction we read, left to right, then left to right again.” Maybe for j you could say it, “J jumps away from the end of the word.” (meaning it’s tail curves away from the right).

Your child is very young. A little story, gentle reminders, and time will likely solve this problem painlessly.

Emily G.

says:

I am loving this! My husband has been taking our daughter to the library a few days a week and working on her reading/spelling/writing with her and today when they got home he mentioned this very issue with her mixing up the b’s and d’s. Huzzah! I now have some great ideas of how we can help her work through that! And i’m loving all these comments – so many helpful hints. I need to check this site more often….

Lisa Boyd

says:

I use letter formation tricks. To form a 6, start with a capital C and make a small circle. To form a 9, start with a little “magic c” at the top, go up and make a line down. To further reinforce the direction have students highlight letters in the alphabet that face the same direction. For example, highlight b,B,p,P for 6 then use another color to highlight d,g for 9.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great ideas, Lisa. I especially like the idea of highlighting letters that face one direct all one color, and letters that face the opposite direction a different color. Thank you for sharing these.

Cheryn Rene Preiss

says:

My 7 y.o. still struggles occasionally and I have 2 more up and coming readers/spellers to be. I spend a lot of time reading here for tips, tricks and new thoughts. I appreciate the information and the comments!

Jill Milosch

says:

Hi, Marie
I am homeschooling our youngest child (10 yo) and would have loved your curriculum for our older children, especially my 19 yo and 27 yo daughters who struggled to get up to speed with reading and writing.

One multisensory activity we would do when learning letters and sounds involved my writing the letter on their backs for them to make the sound and say the name of the letter. To “reset” their touch receptors, I would “wipe” my hand across his/her back before doing another letter. Sometimes I would do this with short spelling words. This would challenge their concentration, so I might ask them to close their eyes. They liked to do this with each other as well.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ooo, Jill, this would be fun! I could see switching and having them spell words on mom’s back too. Thanks for sharing the idea.

Jill Milosch

says:

Now that you mention it, we did do that sometimes! They would try to stump me. :)

Leslie

says:

I use(d) your b and d ideas (analogies and air writing). Hooty Hoo! My son is now writing his b’s and d’s correctly. We will begin using Ruth K’s q idea tomorrow with “little Quinn” and her curly q hair. :-)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Leslie,
Hurrah! Just be cautious about adding too many little stories and such one after another. Some children master reversals better if they have a few days or a week or more to practice with one letter before the next is introduced.

florentina

says:

Make a binocular with your thumbs and pointer fingers and make b and d with your hands, but remember that right hand (or eye) is for d and left hand (or eye) is for b.

Ruth K

says:

LOVED your ideas for “b” and “d,” and my 8 year-old loved them too. They have helped clear up her confusion. She also struggles with which direction to write a few other letters and numbers and you inspired these other ideas:
-I often found her reversing her “g,” so I came up with a similar idea to your “b” help – Think of golf. You put the ball down first, then swing the club down towards the ball.
So along with the “g” confusion, “q” liked to throw her off. When writing the “q,” I drew a girl’s profile (think eyelashes) facing left in the round part and named her Quinn. Then as I drew the line and hook, we imagined that it was her hair and that it had a nice “curly Q” at the end. She loved the imagery.
She often reverses 5. She’s right-handed, so I asked her which hand she uses to give a high five? Her right. So when she writes 5 she should start at the right.
And she often reverses z. So we drew a picture of a buzzing bee coming from the left and visiting a flower to the right, then flying down to another flower on the left, then over to another flower on the right again, drawing a “z” with it’s flight pattern. Then we said that this particular bee flies the same way we read and write: left to right, left to right.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ruth,
Thank you for sharing these imagery examples for other common reversal letters and numbers! So cute and effective. I’m bookmarking your tips because I am sure I will be referring to them as I help others help their kids. Thank you.

Rita

says:

My daughter Zoe reverses lots of her letters, especially the Z in her name. I’m going to use your idea – thanks so much!

Krissy

says:

These are great ideas! Thank you!!

Glenda

says:

Teach the letters b and d using analogies. Wow! Thanks for the great ideas can’t wait to work with my kiddos using your ideas.

Kim

says:

I always used “b is a bad boy and never faces his daddy (capital B).” Also little p always parks on the line (meaning you draw your “parking line” first.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kim,
This is a cute and clever way to remember these letters. I get asked about the p one occasionally, so I’ll be using your “parks on the line”! Thank you.

Sandy

says:

Thanks for the ideas. I have been using some of them with my son who really has a hard time with distinguishing b/d. I am hoping that these new ideas will help.

I used the bat, ball, b and the doorknob, door, d analogy with my 9 year-old student and I heard him saying it under his breath during our last lesson. How about for p and q? I need to think of something similar for those for him.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Nancy,
For p and q you could talk about p’s point (line first). You could say something about q backing up to u, meaning the line side comes second and q is always followed by u. Okay, not terribly clever, but I think it would work.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sandy,
The movement oriented suggestions may seem unnecessary or time consuming, but with children that have had a lot of trouble with reversals the large arm movements and tactile letters can make the difference.

Anyway, let us know if you need further help with this problem.

Tiffany S.

says:

Love the ideas! The letter formation was exactly what I needed to help my child!

I have a 6th grader that struggles with this when he reads and also in writing. I have used all of the strategies listed and so far these have not really helped. I now have a sentence strip on my table to try and help with this and so far that has not helped. Any other ideas?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Chris,
Some times, for some kids, it takes daily, consistent review of these strategies for a long while before they finally overcome reversals. My co-worker had to work with her daughter every day for almost all of 4th grade before she finally mastered it.

With older children that have really ingrained reversal problems, work especially on the tactile (movement) methods. The “air writing” is especially effective. Also, read through what Evelyne does with child that struggle with reversals in her clinic. Her method really cements in a student’s mind how letters are relative to the body only.

So, work daily for 5 to 10 minutes on these reversal strategies, at a time separate from reading and writing. Then, during reading and writing time, just gently correct the reversals and move on. Try to keep the tone light and positive, but very consistent. He will master it, but it is likely to take a long while.

Let us know how things go, and if we can help in any way.

Rita

says:

Another idea that I used was to masking tape big letters on the floor, and walk/jump/hop etc along the line. If there was a spot where you lift your pen, my kids had to jump from one point to the next.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Rita,
I LOVE this “walking the letter” activity! I will be sharing it with others, as I think it would be a fun and effective way to work on reversals. Thank you so much.

Jennie chatman

says:

Me and my husband have had several conversation recently about how our daughter reverses b and d. Then this article came along. I am going to show it to him. I am planning on using all of the tips in it. So, how do I go about using the ball and door knob analogy? do I put it on her desk or what? She is 7, is it too late to make textured letters at that age? May I call you? I have tons of questions. :)

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

Hi Jennie,

Walk her through and do a writing demonstration first, then have her do the writing and see if she can explain it back to you with the analogy. You can post it on her desk or the wall as a reminder.

7 is not too old to make textured letters (I even did some of that with my kids in upper elementary years). Kids often like to pick what texture they might like for a letter.

You are always welcome to call or email for help! We provide lifetime support for all of our programs. Call us at 715-477-1976, or email support@allaboutlearningpress.com.

Amy D

says:

This is SO very helpful! Thanks!!

Amanda O'Neal

says:

I really appreciate these suggestions. My 7 year old still occasionally reverses b and d, so I’m going to give a couple of these ideas a try. I really like the bed analogy, but my favorite is the tip about using different tactiles for teaching the two letters. I’ll be starting the pre-reading level with my 4 year old in the fall, so I think I’ll use this method with him, too.

Merry at AALP

says:

I’m glad these are helpful! My kids both struggled with reversals; it can take time to work through them but it’s time well spent.

Amy

says:

Thank you so much for this information! I can’t wait to try these out with my daughter. She struggles with this very thing. We love the All About Learning programs. They have been such a blessing for us.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Amy, I’m glad that you found this post! Let me know if there is anything we can do to help as you help your daughter with reversals.

M

says:

Thanks for this! Will be trying this out on my daughter.

Lucy

says:

Thank you for this post! I will be using these techniques with my 6 year old daughter. She struggles with b and d reversal.

Erin

says:

Thank you for sharing these tips. My 10-year-old reads just fine, but still reverses letters when he is writing. The air-writing technique and the baseball/door phrases might be fun ways to help him solve this.

Renae

says:

Thank you for posting such a practical easy to implement post. It is helpful to understand what is considered normal for early readers with letter reversals and especially how to prevent and work through it. I will be rereading this post again for sure.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Renae. It’s comforting to know what’s “normal” for early readers where reversals are concerned, and how to avoid and work through reversals if you’re having trouble. I’m glad we could help!

Amanda

says:

Thank you for these ideas! We are beginning third grade this year and still dealing with letter reversals with a couple of letters!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Amanda! I really hope that these tips help your third grader!

Joyce Spalla

says:

Great tips. Have a student who has problems with this and these tips helped tremendously.

Joyce,
I’m glad you found this post helpful!

Please let us know if you ever have questions or need specific help.

This was in my facebook feed this morning on my phone, and then when I tried to find it on my computer, I couldn’t! I knew it had to be one of my three favorite sources for reading and spelling tips, and after a brief search, I found it! Love all the tips!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Glad you were able to re-find this post, Nancy!

michelle

says:

We still struggle when writing. Thanks for the tips.

Lynnette H

says:

This is helpful! We mostly have reversals when writing, and I see some tips here that we can try. Thanks!

Sarah Harris

says:

Great tips! I am trying to cement this in their minds!

Kristin

says:

Thank you. My 7 year old struggles with b and d reversals. i will use these techniques.

Kelly

says:

Thanks for the tips. I began using the “bed” strategy when my oldest was learning to write now he uses it to help his little brother! I can’t wait to try your other suggestions.

Tina

says:

After a student has been working with all 4 similar letters (b/d/p/q), but is still confusing them, I show them this chant. While using their hands, sequentially to show [thumbs up] left hand “b” / right hand “d” / [thumbs down] left hand “p” / right hand “q” … chant: “be” – “done” – “pretty” – “quickly.” Start the chant slowly, and speed up with repetitions. Then quiz by showing just one hand position – “Which is it? — say the word and sound.” When reading a word, they can check the hand position.
“The letter u is UP, like a cup — the letter n is not” (hold your cupped hand facing up, and then down, and emphasize the “uh” sound and the “nn” sound).
For reversed numbers, I have the student visualize (with eyes closed) a very short story I make up, while they trace the action of the story in the air with their dominant arm — making the letter. For number 7, my story is about a boy named Zack, standing at the seashore. He wants to write his name, hugely, in the air (child uses big arm movements, with dominant hand). Zack starts with Z… The effort is tiring, so Zack falls onto the sand after the 2nd (diagonal) stroke of the letter Z. When he looks up, he has made a 7. When they are writing the number, I can prompt: “Remember Zack.” For some reason, the kids love this one.

Tina,
Thank you so much for sharing this! I especially love the “Be done pretty quickly!”

Rachel

says:

Thank you for these helpful tips! I think using all the methods suggested will make the difference between b and d stick!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Rachel. Lowercase b and d can be tricky for some kids, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions!

Emily

says:

I have a little one learning to write, so this is right up my alley, as he’s been reversing some letters. Thanks for the tips!

Marie Rippel

says:

You’re welcome, Emily. I hope these tips help with your little one’s reversals.

Karyn Burns

says:

For my dyslexic family we only taught one…either “b” or “d” at first. We picked the one they could make with their non-dominant hand. That way they could look at it as they wrote it. We also only taught left or right…we picked the left and of course the other one was right.

Another trick is the left hand makes “b” and “p”…balloons go up and pigs dig down.
The right hand makes “d” and “q”…the dog jumps but the queen sits on her throne. If you only teach the non-dominate hand they can now check for all 4 letter confusions.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Karyn,

Great tips, thanks for sharing these!

Michelle

says:

These are great methods! I’ve used the first three, but never heard of the fourth. Definitely going to try that with young boys! Thanks!

Thelma H.

says:

Thank you so much for these tips! My daughter struggles with a few letters because of this issue. I look forward to using these tips in our lessons.

Thelma,
You are welcome. I hope these tips really help.

Have a great week.

Dana Maya

says:

Thank you so much for the tips. My son struggles with b and d with reading. He also has dysgraphia, so writing has been going slow, but he is learning tricks in that application as well.

Dana,
You are welcome. I hope these tips can help. You have likely seen this blog post on dysgraphia, but just in case you haven’t here is the link. http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/dysgraphia/

I hope you have a great week.

Stephanie G.

says:

My daughter has been reversing as we’ve started and this is great information. Thanks

Stephanie,
Just remember that reversals are considered normal for a child just starting reading instruction. Definitely gently correct it, and these tips here will help, but try not to worry about it too much.

I hope you have a great week.

Allison

says:

i found these tips helpful for my 4 year old. Thank you!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Allison!

Jackie Robinson

says:

This is still a problem with my almost 10 year old. But we are working on it daily, so hopefully she won’t struggle the rest of her life. I think the back first, then belly for b would help out with those. I wish there was something like this for numbers too.

Jackie,
Merry, my co-worker, had to work on reversals with her child for 5 to 10 minutes a day for most of 4th grade before the problem was truly mastered, but it was mastered. Your daughter can do it too!

Here is what we recommend for problems with number reversals:

Separate practice of writing the numbers from math time. There is a lot of mental exertion going on with math already. You can apply many of the methods outlined here for numbers as well.

Cut a troublesome number out of a tactile fabric or paper (method #1 above). Air write the number with large air movements (method #2). You can apply method #3 and make-up little analogies if you can think of them.

Try making one number a focus of the week, and work on that one every day, a few times a day. Put a poster of the number up, label things around the house, practice making it in different mediums, and so on. Master one trouble number at a time. Quickly repeat working with a number several times a day. In each session, practice with the textile surface and the large arm movements.

Then, when she miswrites a number, you can have her draw the number using air writing. Then have your child write the number again.

If your child reverses multi-digit numbers (for example, reads “19″ as “91″), encourage her to draw an arrow by the numbers. One of my children used to subtract “up” if the number on top in the ones column was smaller than the number on the bottom. Drawing a down arrow by all of the subtraction problems was helpful for that.

Handwriting without Tears has wonderful instruction for number formation as well as letters. For kids who struggle a lot with reversals, it might be worth taking a look at the instructions. We used their mini chalk-board for awhile and that helped with number reversals here. That helped especially with 5’s, though it was hard to break the habit of starting with the “hat” first!

I hope this can help.

Brenda

says:

My last three readers mix b and d most often. I think this is a great idea to remind them of the direction of the letters. The bed illustration doesn’t help them much.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

The bed illustration is probably the most common analogy for helping with b-d confusion, but I find that bat/ball and doorknob/door analogy to be easier for kids to implement. I hope these tips help your three readers!

Erin W

says:

This is great, we are going to use some of these with our daughter. She also confuses j and i when reading.

Erin,
Interesting. I don’t think I’ve heard of a child confusing /i/ and /j/ before, although it is obvious as to why she is doing so. Hmmm… I’m thinking, “J has to reach down in order to JUMP!”. “/I/ is such a little sound, so /i/ is a little letter.”

I hope this problem clears up easily for your daughter. Have a lovely weekend.

MamaB

says:

Thank you Marie for such a helpful post. As a mother of 6 year old twins who consistently reverse letter, I always wondered if I should be concerned. We will be implementing some of your ideas this summer!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, MamaB! Have a great summer!

Shauna

says:

great tips! Will definitely be using them with my kindergartener next year!

Jen

says:

For the letter “b” we use the “bat and ball” picture too. We are teaching our children cursive handwriting early. The cursive b and d look very different from each other which should help in the reversal issues. Also when handwriting the letter d, you have to write a c first and then a line to make a d. Recognizing that after c comes d is helping my kids with those reversals.

Jen,
This is one of the reasons why we here at All About Learning Press like Handwriting Without Tears so much. Even in printing d is taught as a “magic c” letter, and is formed completely different than b is.

Thank you for sharing.

kaye herbert

says:

this was so helpful as im teaching my son to write, thank you!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Kaye!

Heidi

says:

Thank you for these awesome tips! I have so far only used the “make your bed” with your hands, and it seems like our sons aren’t always able to see the concept of the letters clearly. I will try the images and saying bat/ball/b and doorknob/door/d tomorrow for both our boys and our daughter. Thank you for All About Spelling! It has really made all the difference in the world for our sons.

Heidi,
You are so welcome! It makes us very happy to help.

If you find the bat/ball/b and doorknob/door/d don’t do the trick, go ahead and do the tactile surface and air writing things too. They seem weird, particularly the air writing one, but they really do help.

Let us know if we can help any further.

Ellen

says:

Great tips! I especially like the analogies.

Gale

says:

I love the anagram ideas!

Melissa

says:

Cute ideas.

Crystal

says:

Thank you for the compilation of recourses on this topic!

Kristi B

says:

Thank you! I will definitely use this as a resource as I’m sure I will have this issue with my 4yr old, who will be turning 5 and starting the Pre-Reading level in the fall.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Kristi. And I hope your son loves Pre-Reading this fall!

Kelly

says:

Cursive has helped our kids with this.

Cherie

says:

Yes, with writing. Books are not written in cursive! They are written in print. We need to teach them to read in print, like books are written.

Lacy

says:

Helpful, thanks a bunch!

Michele

says:

Thanks for this great article. I am so grateful for this read, the information will be helpful!

MaryEllen

says:

Great tips! Thanks!

Sarah Goodsell

says:

We have tried many things with our daughter to solve this problem. The first thing we did was we would remind her “to check her bed”, she would then hold up her fists together with the thumbs up and look at her bed and it would remind her which side the line was on. But that didn’t help her to do it right on her own. What finally helped her there was we had to retrain her on letter formation and I had to sit with her and when we would do spelling or writing I would make her start writing the word over if she started her “b” with the circle or the “d” with the line. We taught her you write left to right and so anytime she was writing a “b” she needed to start with the line and anytime she was writing a “d” she needed to start with the circle. It took a long time but eventually she was in the habit and she only has an occasional reversal of those now.

Sarah,
What you described is exactly what some children need in order to overcome this on-going problem. While many children move past the reversal problems with just some gentle, occasional reminders, others do need daily work for a long term period in order to master this.

It’s good to read that your daughter has had success with this problem. Thank you for sharing.

Lara S

says:

I’m so grateful for resources such as this one that is so helpful with my childrens most basic struggles.

Lara,
You are welcome. We are glad to be helpful.

Please let us know if we can help in any further way.

Melanie

says:

Thank you so much!!…. depending on the day, sometimes my guy also includes the letter “p” with this confusion… I especially love that you ask the child -which surfaces reminds you of the letter..? I never thought to ask that question -but I bet he will have an answer! …. going to try that! Thanks!

Melanie,
I’m glad you found this useful. I often enjoy asking questions like that, because I get insight into how their little minds work when I do. It’s lots of fun.

Thanks for sharing. I hope you have a great week.

Amy

says:

This was a fascinating article! As the mother of a severely dyslexic son with APD, we struggled through many of these areas for years. I finally figured out how his brain learns and we were able to address his issues in ways he could understand and learn, though it took time and lots of tears. This info sure would have been helpful during that discouraging, trying time! However, I have 3 younger children coming up and I may find that one of them has the same struggles, so I am bookmarking this page for future reference for myself or anyone I come across that could benefit from it! Thank you for the insights & tips!

Amy,
I’m sorry this post was a few years late to help your son, but good for you on working through it and figuring out how to help him! Keep up the great work.

Carole

says:

Looking forward to trying some of these methods with my 8 year old who switches b’s and d’s. Thanks

Iskra Adams

says:

Excellent advice. Thank you!

Texas Momma

says:

The “bed” trick has really helped my oldest daughter with b & d, she rarely reverses them anymore =)

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I’m thankful to hear that. Thanks for sharing!

Erika

says:

These are great tips! I think they will definitely help my girls.

Katie Barrera

says:

My boys are always mixing up b and d. Trying these tips today!

Just Sil

says:

It’s a pleasure to run into this article and find that I have been on the right track with letter reversals. I have used those methods and haves even a significant change in letter recognition.

Just Sil

says:

*^have seen.

Corri Montgomery

says:

This is very helpful. My son occasionally reverses the letters b and d. Thank you.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Corri!

T.

says:

We use the “baseball bat” and “doorknob” tip for my 6 yr old son. It really helps him tell the difference between b and d.

Melissa H

says:

Great ideas–I particularly like the doorknob and bed idea–all very helpful. Thank you!

Kristin C

says:

This is a great list! My 5 year old has been struggling with this, and these tips are a great resource!!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I’m glad we could help, Kristin!

Tonya

says:

We are trying the doorknob and door. I had heard of the ball/bat and drum/drumstick but it still wasn’t clicking. Maybe doorknob before door will stick better.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I hope so, Tonya! If there’s anything we can do to help, please let us know. We can be reached at support@allaboutlearningpress.com!

Janice

says:

Thank you for all of your free information! There is a lot of helpful info in this post. We’ve had a lot of progress using the “baseball bat and doorknob” trick and use those words as quick, non-hurtful cues when someone is having trouble deciphering between the d and b while reading after they’ve learned the trick. We use the same lingo when talking them through reading, handwriting, and the therapeutic figure 8 exercise Dianne Craft teaches in her video for “Smart Kids Who Hate to Write”. Together these methods really tackle so tough problems even for the neurologically impaired.

Melissa

says:

The curriculum is very helpful. Looking forward to the next level,

Erica

says:

Looking forward to adding some more strategies to help out my girl! The b, d, p, and q are tricky for her, but she’s young yet!

Erica,
I’m glad we could give you more strategies to help out! Have fun with it.

Thank you for commenting. I hope you are having a nice week.

Cherie

says:

For the letter “q” — have them write them with a backward fishhook and always
followed by a “u”. ( “qu”)

Brigitte Brorman

says:

It’s nice to see there are actually ways to address reversal!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Oh, yes! If you’re struggling with reversals, there’s certainly ways to address the confusion. I hope these visual tips are helpful for your student, Brigitte!

Colleen

says:

We just started using the air writing and wow what a difference it is making already with both of my boys!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I’m glad to hear that air writing has made a difference with your boys, Colleen. Thanks for sharing!

Julie

says:

These are wonderfully helpful tips in a continually frustrating challenge. I am going to try these throughout the summer and see if we can make some progress. Thank you!

Julie,
If you have an older child and letter (or number) reversals have been an ongoing problem, you may find it takes ongoing work to overcome it. Merry, my co-worker, had to work on reversals with her child for 5 to 10 minutes a day for most of 4th grade before the problem was truly mastered. Don’t get frustrated in the short term.

Let us know if we can help.

Bethany

says:

My daughter struggled with b/ d reversal for a few months. Bat ball b and doorknob door d really helped her.

Erica Roach

says:

This is all so helpful. Thank you so much. I have a 6 year old son who does this with his b and d a lot!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Erica. I hope these tips help your son!

Kelly

says:

hooray for tricks!

Brianne H.

says:

This is awesome! I have been looking for tips for working with my daughter on this. Thanks!

Laurie

says:

Love these ideas on teaching letters d and b!

Alycia A

says:

My daughter still struggles with letter reversal, and has recently been diagnosed as having dyslexia. These are some really great ideas! Thank you!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Alycia. I sincerely hope these tips are helpful for your daughter. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Jess

says:

Great tips!

Tammy

says:

We use this all the time.

Heidi Smith

says:

I am really wanting to try All About Reading for my daughter. I have noticed letter reversals lately and this would really help!!

Megan

says:

Great tips!

Jenifer Sims

says:

Oh I love the bat and door knob visual.

Clarissa Frazee

says:

This is good information to know. I’ll be starting to teach my twins to read soon.

Michelle

says:

Thank you for these simple tips. I have been concerned about dyslexia with my first grader and will try to see if we can make these stick.

Thanks!
Michelle

jenn

says:

My first grader has been reversing b’s and d’s. This is helpful!

Tracey

says:

We use the bat and doorknob images as reminders.

Christelle

says:

I wish I would have known about this when my son was younger. This looks like a wonderful help to those children who struggle with letter reversal.

Mindee

says:

Great Idea!

Emmalee

says:

What great tips! I will be using these!

Sabrina

says:

Love the pictures embedded into the letters!

Jackie R

says:

Great suggestions! My boys still confuse b and d so I really like making the b and d with their fingers.

Susan Leonard

says:

I love the bat-ball illustration!!!

Steph

says:

Great information…will definitely be trying some of these.

Michele

says:

These are some great tips! Thanks!

Rachel

says:

Helpful info!

Shannon D

says:

Thank you so much for all of the helpful ideas. AAR has really helped my struggling reader blossom and experience success!

Lisa Glendinning

says:

I love this information. My daughter get the b and d mixed up, but this info is sure to help!

Joni K

says:

thank you SO much for all your help! I

Jennifer McKinney

says:

Thank you for the tips. AAR has helped my struggling reader come a long way.

amber

says:

Good ideas :-D

liz

says:

Thank for the great info!

Brandi Barnes

says:

Thank you for this tidbit of teaching. I have found my son mixing these letters up recently. So we went through this teaching moment and I even printed off a ‘b’ base bat w/ ball and ‘d’ doorknob w/ door for a visual! So helpful!

Coco

says:

Very helpful tips, thanks a lot!

Heather V

says:

I’ve tried so many of these already, but I’m going to work on the mouth formation next. That’s one thing I haven’t thought of. Thanks!

Aimee

says:

Thank you for this information. My daughter is having trouble with her b’s & d’s at the moment. Very helpful read.

Brooke M

says:

These are great tips, we’ve used both the bat ball and the bed method to help with bd confusion

Elaine

says:

This is fantastic, the tactile way was my favorite! Thank you,

Katie Abbott

says:

Great tips, thanks

Dawn Melancon

says:

Thanks for this. My girl gets mixed up with b and d all the time. Going to try these tricks

erin

says:

Thank you this will be very useful with helping my daughter that sometimes mixes up the b and d letters.

Patsy Foy

says:

We used the b-e-d analogy with hands for our daughter. It worked ok but did take longer due to thought process. Love the other ideas to try. Thank you!

Niki stone

says:

Im going to try a few of these with my daughter, great ideas!

Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

Amanda Raymond

says:

These are all great tips!

Allison Haugan

says:

Very helpful advice. Some I had heard before and some I had not. Thank you!

Jen A.

says:

I love using the “make your bed” technique. It really helps my son.

Ashley S.

says:

We tried a lot of these tips and they really did help.

Katherine McGuirk

says:

I am so I impressed with this program! My son is flying thigh AAR1 and will be starting AAR2 soon.

Cindy N.

says:

The b and d reversal is something my son struggles with. Will try these and see how it helps. Thanks for the tips

Amy W

says:

Wonderful, helpful tips!

Gina Hilton

says:

My eight year old has the most trouble with the “b” “d” reversal and the numbers “2” and “5”. I will try to apply these tips, especially the tactile surface one.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Gina,

I hope they’re helpful! Sometimes it can take time to work through a really stubborn reversal.

Meg

says:

These are great tips! Thank you!

Molly

says:

My son sometimes mixes these letters up, so these are great tips! He’s a delayed reader and we’re finishing up level A. He’s making progress in leaps and bounds. I’m so thankful we found this program!

Robin

says:

We love AAL! We completed Level 1 Spelling and Level 1 & 2 Reading.

Jen Figueroa

says:

Great tips! I like using their hands to “make a bed”. It’s a prop they’ll always have with them!

M Gravot

says:

I’m so glad I found All About Reading. It’s easy for me to prep and my daughter loves it!

Robyn Crowe

says:

This is great! My now 2nd grader had a hard time with the reversal of b and d. I tried a ton of different methods and finally found a little chant that stuck and worked. “B’s have bellies and D’s have diapers” she thought it was hilarious and has never forgotten it. Her younger sister is now starting to read and reverses b and d and she has taught her the chant. They get the giggles every time.

Robyn Crowe

says:

This is great! My now 2nd grader had a hard time with the reversal of b and d. I tried a ton of different methods and finally found a little chant that stuck and worked. “B’s have bellies and D’s have diapers” she thought it was hilarious and has never forgotten it. Her younger sister is now starting to read and reverses b and d and she has taught her the chant. They get the giggles everytime.

Merry at AALP

says:

Very cute! I love it when kids giggle together!

Meredith

says:

Thank you! These are great tips!

Stevie Zay

says:

These are great tips! Thank you so much. It’s nice to get different ideas to try when you’re stuck in a rut.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Stevie. Variety is the spice of life! Hopefully these tips will be beneficial for you!

Kelly Urban

says:

Both of my kids reversed ‘b’ and ‘d’. My 8 yr old is very good at correctly identifying them. My 6 yr old still needs reminded. I think that she will benefit from the ‘bed’ approach with her fingers. The bat/ball hasn’t worked. Thanks for additional ideas!

Sharon

says:

Hoping these will help!

ulanda

says:

Great ideas. These will help my son who still confuses b and d.

Susana

says:

This will help me help my kindergartener!! Thanks :)

Kelli

says:

Thank you for the tips. We’ve used some of these with our older boys and now I’m starting with my youngest.

Heather

says:

Thanks for the tips! My son only does this occasionally, but it’s nice to have some new ideas.

Amanda

says:

Thanks for the tips!!!

Stacy Gray

says:

Thank you for having some tips for before the problem starts. All of my nieces and nephews confused these letters, so I have been wondering what to do with my son early on to help him avoid this issue if possible.

Stacy,
Yes! Prevention is always best. You may wish to look into Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, as it teaches letter formation as described above and uses other techniques as well to prevent reversal problems.

Thank you for commenting. I hope you have a lovely week.

Heather P

says:

Thank you for these tips/ tricks. My 5 yr old sometimes flips all those letters, just starting to read, etc. My mom and sister have mild dyslexia and I remember some of these with my sister, so it keeps me guessing if my daughter has it too. (she is like them personality wise so much- why not this too?! :) )
Thank you for the giveaway too.

Heather,
Letter and number reversals is well within normal for the first few years of learning to read and write. It alone is not a reliable sign of dyslexia at this young age. If you are concerned about it, and it does tend to run in families, you may be interested in this Symptoms of Dyslexia Checklist. http://info.allaboutlearningpress.com/symptoms-of-dyslexia-checklist

Let me know if I can help in any further way.

Tyra

says:

My daughter has trouble with the letters b and d. She also reverses the number 3. Thank you for posting this article! Very helpful!

Tyra,
I’m glad you found this post helpful! Thank you for commenting.

Jennifer

says:

So thankful for this post…this is a common problem with my kids!

Jennifer Greenwald

says:

What an interesting way to teach! I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this program. I want to try it so bad!

Christina Peterson

says:

Method 3 is genius. I had heard the bed analogy but never the ball and bat or doorknob and door analogy. Thanks All About Learning Press!

Heather

says:

Love the doorknob visual!

My son does a lot of things backwards (he’s left handed or ambidextrous too, not sure if that’s a cause). He’s only 5.5 so I’m not worried yet but glad to hear that there are clear methods that we can adopt if he still has issues at 8.

Besos, Sarah
Journeys of The Zoo

I had not thought about the analogies for b and d especially, that is one that both my kids struggle with so this is something to consider with them

Stefanie

says:

The bat and door knob analogies cleared this right up for my little one. Love it!

Julie Anne

says:

My daughter has been having a little trouble with the b and d since she started reading whole words can’t wait to try some of these out.

Julie Anne,
Thank you for commenting. I’m glad you think this post will help you help your daughter.

I hope you have a great week.

Kylie

says:

This is wonderful! My kindergartner had some problems with b and d and the visuals you have would be great for her!

I love the bat/ball and doorknob visuals!

Nikki

says:

So excited to implement these ideas Monday!

Carol

says:

Perfect timing on this one, I had just started looking into how to help my twins with their b/d reversals! Thanks for the tips :)

Rebecca Spotswood

says:

Thank you for the tips!

Nancy T

says:

Thank you for the tips, they are great! I haven’t had much trouble with this with my children but I know there are many out there who could use some of these methods

Jenny

says:

These are great tips! My son sometimes gets confused with b and d also.

Farrah

says:

All of these tips are so wonderful. It is in align with a lot of what my son has learned in speech therapy.

Ashley

says:

This was so helpful! We actually have more problems with m and w and b and p, but I think this idea will help us a ton.

Ashley,
We speak about b and d, because they are definitely the most common reversal troublemakers, but letter confusion can definitely happen with a wide range of letters. My own son confused n and l, not because they look alike because the tongue is positioned similarly when their sounds are made.

The steps outlined above will help, with just a few changes needed. Let us know if we can help.

Christina Killian

says:

Awesome!!! Thanks for sharing!

Megan

says:

i love the way this curriculum is put together!

Good ideas. I do the hand thing.

Diana Ortiz

says:

These are great strategies , thank you!

Erin

says:

My daughter always gets b and d mixed up. Thanks

Cassie DiStefano

says:

My son has trouble with his b’s and d’s. This is really helpful!

joti

says:

this is so helpful! thanks for sharing!

Marisa

says:

Awesome! Thanks!

Jennifer Bowen

says:

Thank you for sharing!

Rochelle Stowell

says:

My 7 year old still has occasional mix ups like this. I will definitely try this!

Terri Baehr

says:

My 8 yr. old still has the occasionally issue with this. I will start to try some of the things mentioned to help. I will also be incorporating many of the ideas with my 5 year old.

Terra

says:

this is just what I needed!

Kelly

says:

My oldest son had a hard time with b and d. I am teaching my youngest handwriting this year, so thank you for sharing this :)

Rebecca Zharkoff

says:

B for belly and d for derriere!

Shannon Jones

says:

These are great tips! I will be using them with my 6 year old. Thank you so much! :)

Miranda

says:

Love this! Thank you.

Lisa G

says:

Love this! Thank you!

Krissy

says:

Such grea tips here! My 6 year old does this (she just went through Kindergarten this year) so it’s reassuring to know that it’s not too much of a thing to worry about yet. I will be doing these tips with her though.

Krissy,
I’m glad you found this post helpful and encouraging. Yes, at 6 years reversals are well within “normal”.

I hope you have a lovely week.

Samantha

says:

Awesome info! Thank you for such a helpful site!

Ellie

says:

As mentioned above the letter d has a c in it. So have your student begin making a lower case c and at the same time say, “see my d.”

Lisa Grey

says:

These tips for b and d are fantastic thank you!

My 7 year old son also reverses his 3s and 6s. Any tips for that?

Flossie Epley

says:

Thanks for the great ideas. Some I’ve used but others were new to me.

Saph

says:

Awesome tips!!! This will be great for my next daughter that will be starting school. :)

patience Bassey

says:

The pupils in nursery one class 3 and 4 years are having trouble with letter b and d. but this will be very helpful,
thank you

Jessica Tomlin

says:

My oldest is having troubles with b and d. This is super helpful!

Jennie

says:

Great info! Being dyslexic I have struggled with it I was taught the bed trick but some times get that backwards too lol

Hollye

says:

Great info! Thank you!

Nancy S.

says:

Reversals have been a great struggle for my 12 yo dyslexic son. Through using many of the strategies above, he rarely makes letter reversals now (though writing is painfully slow and labored). However, he still regularly reverses numbers–sometimes mixed within the same problem! 3’s, 5’s and 6’s are the most troublesome for him, though 7’s and 9’s are also sometimes problematic. After he has written the number, he can sometimes recognize whether it is reversed or not, but can’t seem to manage sorting that out before it’s written in addition to figuring the math. It has been very frustrating for both of us! I’m hoping that someday it will be easier for him.

Nancy,
I would separate practice of writing the numbers from math time. There is a lot of mental exertion going on with math already.

So at your other-than-math times, you can apply many of the methods outlined here for numbers as well.

Cut a troublesome number out of a tactile fabric or paper (method #1 above). Air write the number with large air movements (method #2). You can apply method #3 make little analogies for a pair, if your child confuses them. Confusing 6 and 9 is fairly common, and you can say “6 sits, and 9 stands. When 9 stands, he is taller,” meaning he has a higher value.

Try making one number a focus of the week, and work on that one every day, a few times a day. Put a poster of the number up, label things around the house, practice making it in different mediums, and so on. Master one trouble number at a time. Quickly repeat working with a number several times a day. In each session, practice with the textile surface and the large arm movements.

Then, when he miswrites a number, you can have him draw the number using air writing. Then have your child read the number again.

If your child reverses multi-digit numbers (for example, reads “19″ as “91″), encourage him to draw an arrow by the numbers. One of my children used to subtract “up” if the number on top in the ones column was smaller than the number on the bottom. Drawing a down arrow by all of the subtraction problems was helpful for that.

Handwriting without Tears has wonderful instruction for number formation as well as letters, for kids who struggle a lot with reversals, it might be worth taking a look at the instructions. We used their mini chalk-board for awhile and that helped with number reversals here. That helped especially with 5’s here, though it was hard to break the habit of starting with the “hat” first!

I hope this can help him be more automatic in his number writing.

Flossie Epley

says:

Love your way to remember 6 and 9!

Nancy S.

says:

Thank you for your encouraging reply. So much of his math he has chosen to do mentally rather than write it down, but as the problems get longer and more complex, he’s finding it harder to keep it all “accounted for” in his head. I will use the number strategies you shared as a group activity with him and my younger son who is just learning to write. We will keep plugging away! Thank you again.

Susan Vanderlaan

says:

Can’t wait to try these tips! Reversals are still an issue with my dyslexic learner!

Samina

says:

Hi Marie,
My son reverses a lot of letters, i have taught him how to write letters, but i think he’s dyslexic thats why he reverses letters and numbers. Dictation has helped with letter reversal but he reverses numbers, single and double digits, any suggestions? And thank you for AAR, it has been essential in our house. We have just started AAS and like it very much as well.
Samina

Samina,
I’m glad AAR and AAS are working out so well for you.

I really like Handwriting Without Tear’s use of their little chalkboard for helping with reversals. If you start the number in the correct spot on the chalkboard, then it’s impossible to reverse them. The little chalkboard (you can find similar ones at dollar stores) provides the boundaries that keeps the numbers going the correct way.

After working with the chalkboard, you could move to graph paper, which can also provide the boundaries. Graph paper can also help with keeping place value correct with all four math functions (+, -, x, ÷).

The large arm movements detailed in this blog post can also be helpful for this. It seems silly, but it works well for many kids.

I hope you find something to help.

Jessica B.

says:

Thanks for the helpful info. My daughter is a lefty and is reversing letters so I’ll have to try these tips.

Cindy

says:

My second grade teacher, Miss Birchard, taught us to use our hands in a ‘thumbs up’ position: if you curl your LEFT four fingers to your palm, keeping the thumb up, the outline is clearly a ‘b’. Likewise, the same done with your RIGHT hand makes the outline of ‘d’. Further, ‘b’ comes before ‘d’ in the alphabet, and thus it was easy to remember which letter was which – left is ‘b’, right is ‘d’. I didn’t have the transposing problem that some classmates did, but still have always remembered her tip and shared it when I could!

Cindy,
Ooo, another interesting tip. There are lots of good ideas in the comments today. Thank you for sharing.

Susanne

says:

Great tips! Thank you. =)

YJ

says:

I love method #3, will definitely try wit with my dyslexia students! Thanks

Eliza

says:

I never struggled with letters, but I reversed 2s and 5s (when writing them) until I was nearly ten years old. I taught myself to do them right by looking at a digital clock. When I had to write 2, I would wait until the clock showed a number 2, and then copy the right direction. It made for very slow homework, but interestingly enough it helped very quickly.

Eliza,
What an inventive solution you came up with. I think this problem is even worse with digital clocks everywhere, as 2 and 5 are often identical, but mirrored on digital clocks. Thank you for sharing.

Jennifer

says:

I need this. My dd gets those two letters confused. I usually ask her does the letter fit in a capital B.

Evelyne

says:

I agree with most of your suggestions, especially the tactile ones. However, I teach this to my clinic students , and in my classroom years ago, quite differently.

1 . Prepare transparent thing, a sheet of plastic, a see thru place mat, whatever, by printing a large letter b on it.
2, stand the child in front of you, facing the b. Have him point the way the b faces. The right arm should be fully extended from the shoulder, and straight out to the side. Ask, what are you pointing at? Perhaps it is the door. Keeping the arm extended, turn a quarter turn. Now what are you pointing at? Continue around the circle.
3, discuss, the only constant is your body. B always faces that side of you. You are the important thing.
4. Have the child see the b from your side! Amazing! It isn’t a b now! Lots of fun and games!
5. After lots of pointing aroun the room and in different places, present a ring , or a bracelet or a stamp on the hand or……… This is your b side. Do you have a b foot? Hop on it.”……..
Day two. Review with your see thru card.
6. Do a tracking sheet for b. Make a set off b/d cards and Mail the b ones into a box with a slot in it. How fast can you do this? Be sure to trim a corner of each card to keep them the right way up. What happens if you turn b on his head? Read a few b words.
Do some multi sensory work. Sand, rough surface, trace on his back……..
Day three
7. Take the sorting cards and stand in front of the child. Show the cards one at a time, quickly, and gave him jump sideways, to show which way the letter faces. Yell b in a loud voice.
8′. Prepare about ten stickies with b on them, and an equal number with d. Hide them around the room, using all four walls, and go on a b hunt. Stick your finding on the table in a straight line and compare them. Do they all face the same way?

All directional concepts must relate to the body. It is the only constant. Once the child is solid with b do multisensory,and sorting, and tracking with d, p, g, q. Use similar strategies for all reversals!

Note also that children with persistent reversals, or confusing similar letters may need an eye exam for tracking and focussing etc. orthotics has chanced many lives! Find a developmental optometrist near you!

Evelyne,
I LOVE that plastic sheeting (or whatever) idea! Thank you so much for sharing your steps.

Bethany

says:

Thank you SO much for these tips!! My daughter just finished K and is reading so so well, but still mixes letters up often! I had NO idea how to work to correct, so these tips are just what we needed! I’ll be able to work on these over the summer before she starts 1st grade!! Thank you, thank you!!

Bethany,
You are welcome. Have fun this summer!

Janis

says:

My Occupational Therapist gave me a copy of “The Gift of Dyslexia” and it suggested we make clay letters and numerals. We did and it helped. It also promoted learning the alphabet backwards. That was harder, but we did it. He still has to ask sometimes, but for the most part it has been corrected. Thank you for the above reminders. I especially like the bat/ball and door/knob.

Janis,
My grandmother tells me that she had to recite the alphabet forward and backward in order to go into 2nd grade. I was kind of shocked at that “test”, as even though I was 12 at the time I found saying the alphabet backward to be difficult.

Making letters with clay is a good idea, especially if you focus on just one letter at a time. Thanks for the suggestions!

Christina Newell

says:

This is great! I will be using these with my son. He struggles with d and b. Thank you!

Cathy

says:

These are some great tips for correcting reversals. Beginning teachers need much more instruction in reading in order to be effective.

Cathy

says:

These are some great tips for correcting reversals.

Leana

says:

Will this work with vowels a and I?

My son will read bat as bit and vice versa. We have been trying for over a year to correct it. He also does the classic reversals b/d p/q and numbers 3,5,7 9 all backwards. But I thought it so strange to completely say the wrong vowel. If I ask him what an A is, pointing to it, half the time he will say I.

Leana,
Are a and i the only vowels he confuses? Then yes, I think these methods would help. Try something like a – apple (taking a bit bite out of an imaginary apple), and i – itchy (while scratching an imaginary itch). Apples are round like an a, while we scratch our itches in a straight line.

However, if he reads other vowels wrong at times, it’s likely a different issue. Try working through the All About Reading blending procedure, especially the “touch the vowel” portion of it. The AAR blending procedure is available as a download toward the end of this blog post. http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/break-the-word-guessing-habit/

I hope this helps. Please let us know (support@allaboutlearnpress.com) if we can help further.

Genevieve

says:

This is fantastic! I wish I had this information when my teen was young, but I can use it now with my 3 & 5yo. Thank you! :D

S

says:

My 9 year old doesn’t reverse her letters anymore, thankfully. But her numbers? Most are reversed. Any tips?

I really like Handwriting Without Tear’s use of their little chalkboard for helping with reversals. If you start the number in the correct spot on the chalkboard, then it’s impossible to reverse them. The little chalkboard (you can find similar ones at dollar stores) provides the boundaries that keeps the letters going the correct way.

The large arm movements can also be helpful for this. It seems silly, but it works well for many kids.

I hope you find something to help.

Sue

says:

We have used these techniques for b and d and they have worked beautifully! What do you suggest for 3 and 5? 7 and 9? p and q? Slovenia your program! what a difference it has made! thank you.

Sue,
These tips can be adapt for any confusion.

For p and q you could talk about p’s point (line first). You could say something about q backing up to u, meaning the line side comes second and q is always followed by u.

3 has three points. See them? The start, the middle, and the bottom of the 3. 5 has four points and a big belly to make five. Count them out with your child. Make the big arm movements as you count. Start counting at one as you start the movement and the last number as you finish it. In that way, 3 will get a count to three, and 5 will get a count to 5 (the curve of the 5 gets a count, as well as the points).

7 and 9 doesn’t work so easily with counting, so maybe try rhymes? 7 heaven, and draw 7 with angel wings. 9 sign, and draw a speed limit sign with 9 mph.

I’m sure someone else can come up with more clever memory tricks, but you get the idea.

Sue

says:

Thanks, I will give these a try!

crystal

says:

What a great idea with the analogs!

Heather

says:

These are really good tips, thank you!

LoryAnn P

says:

Thank you for these tips. I am going to try the bat/ball & doorknob tip with our son.

Ellen Rechtien

says:

Hello All,
I am Level 1 certified with Handwriting Without Tears. The Handwriting Without Tears program teaches children the upper case letters first and then the lower case letters. It is very important to teach lower case letters in a sequential order…. start with the “magic c” letters first… I always refer to them as “magic c” (a,c,d,g,o). The children remember the word “dog”, as the magic c dog, when I place the word “dog” on a picture of a dog. This helps them visualize the letter with a picture/word, as well as putting it in a sentence (Magic C dog likes to dig. or Where is the Magic C dog?)
Since I help children with dysgraphia, I use a technique called, the Writing 8. It was developed by Dr. Getman, an Optometrist, to help children to visualize and use a crossing the midline technique tracing a figure 8 that is on its side. They trace the drawn figure 8 three times with a crayon around the track (large figure 8 on its side drawn with a midline drawn down the middle, put a dot in the middle of the line “parking spot” where they start and end) and then place the letter on the figure 8. This two hemisphere activity really helps when combined with the developmental sequence of sound-symbol instruction. Start at “parking spot”, Trace three times around the track and stop at parking spot, say the word “dog”, say “d” sound “d”, print “d” on 8… Then have child put the word dog in a sentence. Go on to other “d” words and follow the same steps. Really helps!!!!!

Evelyne

says:

I had forgotten about the 8! It is a great technique and I will add it in to my sequence. Presently have a couple of clients with huge OT issues, including midline. My apraxic student does figuer eights and will benefit from adding in the letters. Thank you!

Great additional tips and helps, Ellen. Thank you so much for sharing.

Catherine

says:

I’m going to try the bat/ball & doorknob/door tip with my daughter next–I’ve tried many tips before to no avail. Thanks!

Catherine,
The tips work even better if you put a few of them together, while focusing on one letter at a time. Talking about both letters at the same time can just reinforce the confusion for some kids. You may wish to try working with only B first for a few days or a week, before working with D. Also, try the air writing tip especially. Adding in the movement really helps make a difference for some kids.

Jaime B

says:

My daughter is learning cursive first so they are very different when she writes, but for reading I have been telling her b is “back first, then belly”. When we are consistent with AAR this helps her immensely. I think I need to try the bed and doorknob analogy, as that may giver her better instant recognition.

Jaime,
I hope our analogies help your daughter. If she still struggles with instant recognition, you may consider trying the arm movement tip. It seems silly, but it really works well for some children.

Thank you for sharing. I hope you have a lovely week.

Jeren

says:

I will have to use these tips with my eldest. She is in the middle of level 2 and still confusing “b” and “d”.

Jeren,
The tips work even better if you put a few of them together, while focusing on one letter at a time. Try working with only B first for a few days or a week, before working with D. Also, try the air writing tip especially. Adding in the movement really helps make a difference for some kids.

I hope you help her finally master these troublemakers!

Colleen

says:

Great suggestions. I have tried several with my older kids, but am always glad to have new tricks up my sleeve for the littles.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

When you’re a homeschooling mom, it’s always a good thing to have tips and tricks tucked up your sleeve. :)

Shelly Hunter

says:

This is SO helpful! My twin girls, now 8, have begun (both at the same time!) reversing the same numbers and letters on the last year when they had not previously done it consistently before. We use and LOVE AAR and AAS and they do a good job with this. It just shows up in their writing. Thank you for the tips!!! I will definitely be trying these!

We’re glad would could be helpful, Shelly!

Melissa Terhorst

says:

hoping to order for 4 kids at the HS convention coming up!

Melissa,
Unfortunately we won’t be at a homeschool convention this year. You might see if Rainbow Resource Center will be, as they carry our materials. They tell us that they sell out of it at most conventions, however, so you may want to plan to get by their booth early.

Another option, although I know it’s not the same as seeing things in person, is to check out our online samples. You can go to the product pages on our website to find links for samples of each product. Here are a couple to get you started:

Here are samples and scope and sequence links for All About Spelling Levels 1-7
http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/spelling-lesson-samples

Here are the All About Reading samples and scope and sequence links for the various levels of the All About Reading program. http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/reading-lesson-samples/

Also, we do have a 1-year, 100% satisfaction guarantee when you order from our website. If you decide to try one of our products and it just doesn’t work for you and your children, you are free to return the product (even used), for a refund of your purchase price.

Thanks for your interest!

Deann

says:

This is very helpful!

Abigail W

says:

My oldest is still young (rising kindergartner), but I’d like to make the letter confusion as painless as possible. These are some great strategies, especially the tactile approach. I think he’ll really enjoy that one. Thank you so much!

Abigail,
Have you seen our instructions for making a fabric alphabet? If you chose fabrics for their tactile feel (instead of color or pattern) it would great for this. http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/make-your-own-fabric-alphabet/

Thank you for posting.

Melissa

says:

Love the visuals of the bat and doorknob! Will definitely be using those.

Jenni Earleywine

says:

Thank you. That is very helpful!

Rena

says:

Wow! Very helpful info!

Angela Vasquez

says:

Good strategies!

I like these tips and how simple they are.

Rachel Hightshue

says:

These strategies really helped my son! Thanks! Love this program!

Nikki B

says:

I learned about the bat/ball, doorknob/door from your website about a month ago and I love it! I’ve been using it with my son. I’m also now going to teach him the say “b” straight line/say “d” open mouth one. Great ideas, thank you so much!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Nikki! I’m thankful that these tips have been helpful for you.

Kim S.

says:

These are great strategies!! Thanks!

Amber Rex

says:

These are really great ideas. I’m def going to give them a shot with my kids! :)

Lindsey Rowland

says:

I love method #3! Theses are great ideas!

Amy

says:

Thank you for this! Letter reversal is a huge struggle for one of my kiddos.

Amy,
You are welcome. It is a rather common problem for children to have too.

Using the “bed” analogy worked great for my kids!

Amelia Wright

says:

These are helpful tips. Thank you!

Natasha

says:

Some helpful tips, thank you! The best thing I have done with my children who are learning to read is teach them the American Sign Language alphabet. That has helped correct and prevent letter reversals and also is a great help when sounding out words.

Natasha,
Another benefit of learning the ASL alphabet is the ability to pass a message across a noisy room without having to shout, or to pass one in a silent room without drawing attention. It’s come in handy a few times for me :D.

Thank you for sharing this great idea.

rachel

says:

So grateful for all of your help; my little gal is just starting to get the hang of this and she really likes the “bed” trick with her fingers! Thanks!

Amanda

says:

My oldest struggled with this throughout kindergarten and we were finally able to correct it this past year! Good tips!

Abigail Carpenter

says:

I have been struggling in this area with my kids and I am so glad I read this post. Looking forward to trying these tips.

Abigail,
I’m glad you found this post timely!

jennifer mathesz

says:

thx for the tips. my son knew them right but then recently started reversing them.

Jennifer,
Sometimes when kids are transitioning from a more beginning level of reading to a more advanced one, little errors like this pop up that weren’t there before. They often correct themselves in a few weeks, as they learn to juggle all the parts of reading. Since he hasn’t had a problem with this before, I would try just gently correcting him for a while and see if the problem fixes itself.

Amy Combs

says:

So helpful! My youngest has struggled with the b/d issue, while my older two had no problems with it! This was very helpful for dealing with it!

Crystal

says:

this has been so helpful to my grade 2. Those b’s and d’s have given him such trouble and he could not wrap his head around the idea of them as a bed to help him remember (that was how I was taught). As soon as I introduced b as a bat and d as a dog (again he found the doorknob confusing) he is off and running. For d we say, first you pet the dog, then it wags its tail. When he reads them backwards all I have to ask, is do you pet the dog or grab the bat first? And he quickly self corrects. Such an improvement after struggling with them for over a year. Thank you!

Crystal,
This is GREAT! I love the “pet the dog” especially. Thank you for sharing.

Judith Martinez

says:

These are great! I am familiar with the bed tip and the lips tip but neither one has been helpful to my daughter. I will try the bat/ball doorknob ideas next.

Judith,
The tips work even better if you put a few of them together, while focusing on one letter at a time. Try working with only B first for a few days or a week, before working with D. Also, try the air writing tip especially. Adding in the movement really helps make a difference for some kids.

Thank you for commenting. I hope you have a lovely week.

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