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How to Solve Letter Reversals

letter b and d reversals

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 makes 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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
  4. 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

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

How to Solve Letter 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!

Have you discovered a helpful strategy for dealing with letter reversal issues? Please share in the comments below.


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Leave a Comment

Edelia

says:

I will be homeschooling my granddaughter this year, 4th grade. She left public school for more one on one teaching. Thank you for the article. I hope and believe this will help.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I do hope this helps, Edelia, but if you find you need more help or have questions, please let me know.

Amanda B

says:

This is going to come in handy this homeschool year! Thanks so much!

Meredith Krisell

says:

Love all of these! I’ve also been taught to teach one or the other with fidelity, in hopes that that one will be learned and the other will come much easier. Just a thought!

Guillermina Roche

says:

This is very helpful. Thank you!

Bethany

says:

This is so helpful! I would love to see an article like this on number formation. I realize that it may be outside of your scope here. Reading/writing 2 and 5 are anxiety inducing in this house and it has been a difficult issue to correct.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Bethany,
The tips and activities outlined here will help with numbers as well. This article on How to Solve Letter Reversal Problems has some good techniques that you can also use with numbers.

Make sure to separate the time for practicing the numbers from the rest of math time, and work on one number at a time. When a reversal comes up as your child does math just gently correct and move on. Since it is anxiety-inducing, I’d be inclined to write a 2 with two dots on the top left of the day’s math page and a 5 with five dots on the top right. After a while, I’d stop doing it unless the child asked. He or she will stop asking when they don’t need it any longer.

Do the tactile and air-writing 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 him say the number to help link the two concepts. You could also try counting–as in, “Five. One, two, three, four, five.” 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 he or she misreads a number, you can have him 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 a while 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 helps, but please let me know if you need further ideas. I’d love to hear how it goes over the next few weeks too.

Karlee

says:

Love the analogies, this helped my son so much!

Rebecca

says:

Thank you!

Tawny

says:

Great tips, thank you! We will be using some of these.

Becky Morris

says:

Thank you for all the suggestions. I definitely learned some new tips, and I can’t wait to share them with my students.

Kendra S Mackenzie

says:

Wow this is helpful

Myra

says:

Very helpful suggestions!

Lindsay

says:

This will help me a ton with teaching my 1st grader. Thanks!

Kristen

says:

Great suggestions! Thank you!

Tracy T

says:

The “bed” really helped my children learn the difference between b and d. Great tip!

Nichole

says:

This is so helpful! Thank you.

Joanne

says:

Just started using reading level 1 with my 7 year old and we are loving it. Waiting to get to chapter 26 to start her on spelling. I wish I had, had the money to start my boys on this program. My daughter has struggled with b and d and I love how it also explains how to help.

Kim

says:

Thank you! This is helpful.

Ava

says:

The bed analogy really helped my child’s visualize the differences between b and d.

Melany

says:

So, helpful. Thanks.

avigail

says:

what do you do for kids who just seem like they are too lazy to take the time to figure out which letter is which? My son also confuses n & h and sometimes even m & w.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Avigail,
It is unlikely that your son is struggling with these letters out of laziness. If a child can readily determine letters with a high rate of success, he or she will do it even if it takes a little effort. It’s only when something is very hard or when they experience being wrong so often it is discouraging that a child will stop trying.

Those that struggle must work harder than those that don’t have problems and often they are rewarded for their harder work with poor results. This can be very discouraging! It may seem that “just try harder” is all that is needed, but often these students are already trying very hard and quickly wearing themselves out. Tired minds do not perform or retain information well, so it is important to keep sessions short for the best success.

The mistakes your son are making make sense if you think about it. Is there anywhere else in his young life where something as tiny as the little bit of ink between n and h makes such a big difference? And confusing m and w is actually the same problem as confusing b and d, except with b and d children are flipping letters left and right and with m and w they are flipping them up and down. The direction something is facing doesn’t make a difference in a child’s life until he or she starts to learn letters and numbers. A shoe is a shoe whether it is facing left or right or is upside down. Only with letters do we find two things that look exactly alike are completely different because they are facing different directions.

You don’t mention your son’s age, but please know that confusing letters is normal before the age of 8. And regardless of his age, the best way to approach this problem is to spend a few minutes each day focused on mastering a letter. Start with just one letter and work on learning its shape, direction, and sound. The tactile letters and air writing on this page are great activities for this, as well as writing letters in salt, and other physical activities. After a few days, introduce a second letter but not the one he confuses the first letter with. For example, start with the letter n. A few days later, start working with the letter w but keep reviewing n each day. Then, a few days after that start working with h, still reviewing n and w each day. Once he has a high amount of success with all the letters he confuses, then start reading instruction again but keep reviewing these trouble-making letters each day. Hopefully this will give your son the extra help he needs to master these letters and the letter confusion will be noticeably less when you start again.

I hope this helps but let me know if you have questions or need anything else. I’d love to hear how things go after you spend a few weeks mastering letters and then start reading again. You may find our blog post 7 Ways to Be the Teacher Your Child Needs helpful.

Avigail

says:

Thank you for your response.
While my kids have always spoken English at home, reading in English is actually their second language (Hebrew being the first). It is more confusing for them because they are used to reading from right to left and English is backwards for them to begin with.
I am actually teaching 3 of my kids to read right now using your program. We are almost done with level 1. They are all at the same level even though I started earlier with the older kids because the other methods I tried didn’t work. My kids are 10, 9 & 8 years old. The 10 year old is the one who has the hardest time with letter reversal. The reason I said he was lazy was not to be mean but my 9 year old will spend the time and look at her hands each time she gets to a b or d and makes an effort to figure out which letter it is. On the other hand, my 10 year old son is easily discouraged and just says he can’t figure out the word and refuses to try. When he practices letters separately he doesn’t seem to have much trouble but as part of a word he just gives up. I don’t know how to motivate him to try, he gets discouraged and gives up so quickly.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for the additional information, Avigal. Moving from reading Hebrew to reading English would sure be a challenge!

I think it might be best to address his discouragement and giving up and not the laziness. At a time when he isn’t upset and when you are alone with him, ask him why he gets discouraged and gives up. And then listen to his response and consider it. There could be lots of possible reasons.

It may be that he feels like he should be better than his younger sibling. When an older sibling finds something harder than a younger sibling does, it can cause a lot of frustration and lack of confidence. A common response to these feelings is to give up before trying. If this is the case, or even if you think it’s only a part of the problem, consider working on English reading with him separately from his siblings. And while he will make comparisons himself, minimize comparisons as much as possible.

Be sure to praise him every time he tries, whether he is correct or not. Praising effort will result in more effort.

Letters in context of words and sentences are more difficult than letters in isolation. When he practices letters separately, he only has to focus on the letters. When he is reading words, he has to focus on all the sounds and how they blend together. And when reading sentences, there is all of that plus comprehension of the sentences as well. It makes things harder. Keep the yellow phonogram cards in daily review until he no longer has trouble with them even when reading. Even though he can review them in isolation with no trouble, it may help with his reading words too. Also consider doing the air writing or tactile letter tips from the blog post. They may seem a bit silly, but they are effective.

I’d be interested to hear what he says is the reason for his discouragement and also your thoughts as to what you think it is. Please let me know if I can help in anyway.

Laura

says:

Thanks so much for your post. Asa dyslexic with two dyslexic boys I think it might help.

Melissa Bell

says:

This is one of the biggest issues we have. Thanks for the tips.

Angela M Wolf

says:

My daughter reverses B and D. We will definitely try the “bed” strategy.

Heather

says:

Thank you for all the helpful posts and resources! Having so many at one site really helps!!

Jen

says:

We had reversal issues pretty seriously with our now 11yo. He blew past the end-of-second grade mark still having lots of issues. I tried all the things mentioned here, plus figure-8 alphabet writing. Eventually, it went away. I think the main cause (well aside from a possible touch of dyslexia) was that he got into the habit of writing his d wrong. He still wants to start at the top for both b and d. If he hadn’t gotten into that habit, I think it would be easier for him to tell the difference—because then it seems more like a totally different letter—not just a mirror image. The Wet Dry Tru app helped a lot!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Jen, especially about the app. It does seem like older kids that have a long history of reversals take a long time to overcome it. I’m very pleased to hear that the problem is past now.

Laura Oller

says:

BeD is how I was taught to help children with B and D

Melissa

says:

I love the bat/ball example for teaching b.

Margaret

says:

Going to try these tips.

Stephanie

says:

I loves this article on letter reversals. This is a big problem with second graders. I too teach the method you mention about the stick first with the b and the circle (bubble) first with the d.

Rachel Cacciamani

says:

Good ideas!

Amanda

says:

I love all of these great ways to help my kids learn the difference between b and d.

Donna L Holder

says:

this is really amazing. thank you for all the great information

Ashley Dunn

says:

We made a couple of posters about b and d and hung them over her desk and it really helped.

Margarita D

says:

My son use to reverse his letters and we worked together to help him correct it. He’s much better at it now. This is a great resource.

Victoria

says:

Here’s an article I needed today, our youngest is really struggling with this, will definitely be trying some of these out with him.

Alyssa George

says:

I’m excited to try these ideas out with my kiddos!

Mandy

says:

Thank you for a concise and informative post! Dianne Craft’s exercises have also been extremely helpful for my son. 😊

Linda Hahn

says:

I’ve used many of these methods with learning disabled students as well as my own Grandchildren and they really work! So many excellent ideas! Try them!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Linda!

Amanda

says:

The tactile surface idea sounds brilliant. I am going to try this while I attempt to correct a few handwriting habits. Thank you for the ideas!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
The tactile surface idea is very helpful for working on handwriting formation. You may find our Make Your Own Tactile Letter Cards blog post helpful. Sand letters like these were very helpful for my children.

Tasneem Ghandour

says:

This is very useful, thank you

Erin

says:

I like the idea of air-writing & the free book is great! THanks!

Kara

says:

Very helpful and interesting to read! Thanks for sharing!

Laura Locklear

says:

When you hold the b and d fingers as in the bed diagram, remind them the b comes first in the alphabet and the d is later. If they have the left to right reading directionality it may help.

Maria

says:

Very helpful!

Olusola

says:

Great idea.
Thanks

Amy B

says:

I really appreciate the information. I’ll certainly remember the lip formation ideas this year. Thanks again!

Ana

says:

This has been very helpful for my son. Thank you!

Cee

says:

Great advice to solve a common problem. My students struggle with reversals. Can’t wait to try these strategies when school resumes.

natalie

says:

I think the bed example will be very helpful for my daughter!

Jannette

says:

This has been a helpful article. My son struggles with b and d while reading. I’m going to try these tips and hopefully the problem will be solved.

gigi Wolf

says:

My son who is 7 gets B, D, M, N, i, l, ect. all mixed up. But with the All About Reading it has helped TREMENDOUSLY! I will definitely try the air writing!
Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gigi,
You’re welcome. I’m very happy to hear that All About Reading has helped your son so much!

Air writing may look or feel a bit silly for some, but it is very useful for helping with reversals.

Tracey

says:

I love the verbal bat/ball and doorknob idea! Going to give that a try this year!

Holly

says:

Great tips!

Allen

says:

The information as mirrored in the AAR curriculum was very helpful. We are still working through the b/d reversal, but the baseball/doorknob image has helped my little one a ton. However we changed the baseball and bat to a person blowing a bubble in the direction of the sentence. Thanks for the helpful tips.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Allen,
I love how you changed the analogy to blowing bubbles! It’s great to make it personal to your student, as that is the easiest way for them to remember.

Magi

says:

My daughter is still struggling with letter reversals at nearly 11. I’m always looking for new ways to help her.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Magi,
When older students have been struggling with reversals for a long time, it can take a long time of consistent work to finally overcome it. My co-worker needed to work with her child for a few minutes a day for most of 4th grade before she mastered the letters.

The tactile letters and air writing may seem a bit silly for an older student, but in these sorts of cases they tend to be the most effective. Also, try this idea from Evelyne who works with struggling learners in a clinic. The activity she details really helps to cement the direction of a letter in relation to the student’s body.

I am available as much as you need to help you help your daughter overcome letter reversals. Please let me know if you need more ideas or have other concerns.

Christy

says:

Thank you, my 6 yo gets b and d reversed, I downloaded the e-book!

Sarah Binkley

says:

Great analogies for learning letters that are often confusing for my dyslexic reader. Thank you!

Jen

says:

Great tips! Thanks for all the ideas!

Sue

says:

Thanks for the great tips!

Julie

says:

Very helpful tips!

Rebecca

says:

My 8 year old reads great but still occasionally struggles with b and d. I am excited to try some of these methods with her and her siblings.

Dawn

says:

Great ideas! Wish I had these ideas and this article years ago.

Linda

says:

This info is great to have. Thanks!

Bee

says:

We’ve had the illustration of “b-e-d” on our white board since we’ve started :) It’s been a helpful visual reference. We also do a lot of thinking about where our mouth is and where our tongue should be when making the sounds, something I don’t ever remember hearing in school (a long time ago). Keep up the great tips – I’ll be sharing these tips with our Reading Camp Instructors this evening :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Bee,
I was never taught to think about mouth and tongue placement when I was learning either, but it has been a very helpful activity for at least one of my children. I love how it makes what is mostly an auditory skill (hearing and saying sounds) into a more physical/tactile one.

Kaitlin

says:

Thank you for this information!

Melissa

says:

These are some great ideas! The student i am tutoring is into anything sports. The bat and ball worked great for him!

Melanie

says:

Thank you for yet another excellent resource!!! I love that you’re making OG accessible, because private OG tutoring can be so expensive!!!

Barb Meyer

says:

Love the ideas. I already use some of these. Just gotta keep on “keeping on”.

Pauline Pretz

says:

As a first grade teacher, I find correctly writing the letters b and d help most children. It’s breaking the habits they have learned about writing. For others the ball/door analogy works well. Ball comes before door gives them a brain picture. For those with more dyslexic tendencies the lip formation does help. I use these as ‘reminders’ and am not concerned until the later part of the year if I have noticed little improvement.

Elysa

says:

These are interesting tips! My 8-year old daughter frequently confuses many letters (f and t; q, p, d, and b; W, E, and M; n and u). She also tells me often that similar letters in the same word (e.g., bed) are identical. Will these tips help her resolve these issues?

Melissa

says:

If she is still struggling at 8, you might consider having her evaluated for dyslexia. If you are homeschooling, using All About Reading is the best curriculum to use, and if she is dyslexic, this program will be effective. Moving slowly would be wise. You wouldn’t necessarily need an evaluation if homeschooling. If she is in traditional school, an evaluation will allow her to receive help sooner rather than later. Following the tips listed in this article is a great way to start. Don’t get discouraged. It could take a lot of review. I am a reading tutor at a private school for children with dyslexia and am OG trained. If you have any other questions, I would be happy to try an anwer them.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Elysa,
Melissa makes some great points!

Directionality can be difficult for some kids to master. When we are little, direction doesn’t matter. A chair is a chair no matter what way it is facing or even if it is upsidedown! Is it any wonder that b and d are confusing then?

In addition to the tips here, take a look at this activity from Evelyne, a teacher that works with struggling readers. It helps students to really get the idea that letters are directional in relation to their own body. A b always faces the student’s right side. I especially like how she uses a bracelet or a stamp to identify a student’s “b” side.

Don’t try to work on all these letters at once; that would be confusing and may make the problem worse. Instead, pick 2 or 3 to focus on for a few minutes a day, not choosing mixed up pairs. Meaning, don’t work on b and d at the same time, nor n and u. Rather b and n would be fine to work on together at first. While working on letters, use both the letter names and their most common sounds. Both need to be mastered, but the child should be saying the sound more than anything.

Please let me know if you need more information or have more questions. I’d love to hear how things go over the next few weeks too.

Pam

says:

Wonderful helps.

Ingrid rose Vos

says:

I have had students make “two thumbs up” with their hands. Their fist automatically becomes the round part of the letter while their thumb is the stick. “b comes before d”. Try it

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ingrid,
Great tip! Thank you.

Paula D.

says:

I sing this to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell” “A bat and A ball, A bat and A ball, that’s how to make a b, a bat and a ball”. It’s not original with me, but I don’t remember who to give credit to. You can do the same with the letter d, only I have used a doughnut and a door. For the letter p, you can sing, “A pickle and a pizza.”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love the idea of singing letter formation, Paula! Great tip! Thank you.

Dawn Williams

says:

My ASD, GDD son does well with your All About Reading Program but yet still struggles with remembering a few of his letters. A lot of it has to do with reversals. I am hoping to try these ideas with him over the next few weeks and months. Thank you for writing this and all the many other articles!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Dawn,
Let me know how things go as you work on reversals over the next few weeks. They can take some time to master, especially if the child has been struggling with them for many years, but I would expect to see some improvement if you work on it for most days for a few weeks.

Kay St. Onge

says:

“Laubach Way to Reading” uses the word ‘dish’ to teach ‘d.’ The picture of the dish has a large spoon placed vertically on the right side of the dish. I use a transparency to have students draw over the picture repeatedly, form the letter ‘d’ right over the picture of the dish with the sppon. Works with my students.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such a cute way to make d memorable, Kay. Thank you for sharing it.

Nelly

says:

Thanks for these ideas. My 5 year old has been reversing b and d. I think I will try the handwriting exercise first and see how it goes.

Miranda

says:

This was so informative! Thanks so much!

Jeren

says:

Awesome! :)

katie

says:

my daughter had previous reading training from school extra help and tutoring with
very little avail. Thanks to this program, over summer we started from scratch and have corrected her letter sounds to proper pronunciation and stopped all but letter b and d reversal. she has improved tremendously.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wow, it sounds like you made great progress over the summer, Katie! Way to go and keep up the wonderful work!

Diannah

says:

This came at the perfect time. Thank you

Catherine Southern

says:

Awesome advice! Thank you so much!

Jennifer Hayes

says:

Thanks! My daughter is 7 and still confused by b and d.

Becka Mickelson

says:

Thank you, I found this very helpful. I knew about the bed, but I think I will try the bat and ball and doorknob analogies. Air writing is one of our favorites.

MARGARET MEREDITH

says:

Thanks so much for this information. It is a great help. As an ESL First Grade school teacher in a bilingual school, I see too many students struggle with this, and since the emphasis is on helping students learn in English, so many of them slip through the cracks when it comes to writing. These errors go without being remedied during their preschool years and by the time they get to 1st grade, these habits are so ingrained that it becomes quite a challenge to reverse!

Kim

says:

Super helpful!

Lisa

says:

Great post! We actually put a “b” and a “d” on my son’s headboard so he would see it before he went to bed and first thing upon waking. When he would get confused writing, I taught him to just do the “bed” sign with his hands and it worked!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
I love that you put the letters on his bed headboard for additional reinforcement! What a great idea.

Brittany

says:

Great tips! Thank you!

Kristie Woodward

says:

thank you for these great tips

Mandy

says:

We love these programs, thank you for all you do. My early reader struggles with letter reversals all the time, and shows lots of signs of dyslexia, so this post is super helpful!

Angela Stroh-Grizzle

says:

I used these tips successfully with my oldest son, and will now be using them with my youngest. Great reminder. Thanks!

Anna Bystrova

says:

Do you have any other tips for p and q? TIA

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Anna,
Yes. The tactile and airwriting tips work without adaptations, of course. For the analogy tip, teach that “p has a point” and q has a curl (use a font that has the tail curl up) because she’s a queen. This page shows a hand trick like the “bed” one for p and q instead of point and queen it teaches p-pencil and pizza and q-quarter and quilt. You can choose whichever memory device you think would work best for your student.

For the mouth shape, the /p/ sound is made with a tiny point of air and the /qu/ sound is made with a mouth that opens for the queen’s curls.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you need further ideas.

Anna Bystrova

says:

Thank you for your help!

Kristen Mathewson

says:

Very Useful!

Erin

says:

Thank you for this!

Tracey K.

says:

I love all the different suggestions. Definitely will try these. My son sometimes gets it reversed so I’ll make sure to correct it right away.

Kayla

says:

This is amazing…as always.

Tracy

says:

Thanks for the help! Looking forward to trying it with my daughter

Fabiola

says:

Great information! Very helpful for my children when they first started reading. Thank you

Tara Nussbaum

says:

Love this!

Olymtmom

says:

My son does this and I’m going to try some of these tips as well as some I read in the comments about q and p. I didn’t think about where you start the letter when you write it; b at the top and d with the circle, I think that is helpful also.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, focusing on letter formation in handwriting is really helpful for some students. It reinforces the directionality of the letters.

James Mathewson

says:

I need this

Mindy

says:

That’s fantastic, I’ll be using this. Thank you!

Jing

says:

Thanks for sharing this wonderful information!

Kris Stoner

says:

Thank you for this!

Melissa Orruego

says:

This is very helpful information!

Meghan Kramer

says:

Great ideas! Thanks!

Allison

says:

Great information!

Joanne Weeks

says:

Ever since I found your blog online I have shared your ideas and website with many children and parents!! I can’t thank you enough for your sharing and caring ideas!! I am a private tutor (after teaching 42 years) and my clients range from kindergarten to middle school. I love seeing that “a-ha!” moment in both students and parents! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!

Enia

says:

Thank you for the information. Very helpful!

Karen

says:

The picture of the bed really helped my son with b/d reversal. Thank you!

Amy Bishop

says:

Can’t wait to try 1,2, & 4 tomorrow!! Thanks for all the help!!

Tristin Armstrong

says:

My daughter struggles with this, so I appreciate the tips! I’m looking forward to using this curriculum with her!

Margaret

says:

My child had this problem. We struggled for years before realizing he needed vision therapy. His eye sight was “normal” at the regular eye doctor’s exam. Here’s the website with more information. http://www.covd.org/? page=QOLStart After a few months of weekly therapy and home exercises, he gained over three grade levels in less than a year. It was literally life changing for all of us.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this very important point, Margaret. We don’t address the possibilities of vision problems in this blog post, but we do have a blog post that discusses it. Real Moms, Real Kids: Vision Problems

Stephanie wisnewski

says:

I’ll definitely use some of these for the B and D with my daughter. Thanks for sharing!

Deana McHatton

says:

Great ideas!!! I have one who struggles with this.

Lisa

says:

Some great ideas for help, thanks!

Tara

says:

The “bed” trick has been very helpful for two of my children who confuse b and d

Great! A fun way to remember this!

Sarah

says:

Thank you for the tips. I’m looking forward to trying them with my son.

Savannah

says:

Looking forward to trying these with my daughter.

Katey

says:

These are great interactive ways to help it stick! My daughter has always struggled with it so hoping these help!

Tracey

says:

Great article.

Katy

says:

These are helpful tips and tools—thank you!!

Lisa F.

says:

Oh I need to make the time to do some of these with my eight year old son. He is not reading yet. At this point, I’ve been homeschooling for 22 years and still have an 11th grader, 8 / ninth-grader, 6th grader, and my youngest not-reading son. And I am having a really hard time with not being burned out.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
I understand your feelings and I’ve only been homeschooling for about 18 years. I have found a combination of things work well for me.

One is to do the things I tend to put off first thing each morning. If I’m not getting around to working with a certain child, that child becomes the first thing on my agenda.

Another is to buy different curriculum. I know just reusing what worked with my older kids saves money, but sometimes the thought of going through the same book for the fourth or fifth time just makes me want to hide. In that case, a new (or new-to-me) purchase is very much worth the cost.

Lastly, I have at times used an older student to work with a younger one. I don’t do it for everything, but one or two subjects freed from mom can be so nice.

I hope you find a way to minimize burn out. Let me know if you need anything.

Jinny

says:

My son did this! Thanks for the blog!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jinny!

Elyssa

says:

The mouth formation tip is so cool! I never would have noticed that!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Elyssa,
I never noticed that about how our mouth forms these sounds until it was pointed out to me too. But paying attention to how our mouths look and feel (since we can’t always see our mouths!) is a great way to make learning these letters more physical and kinesthetic.

Cassie

says:

Helpful, thank you!

Kathleen

says:

Great tips!

Melanie Lustgarten

says:

That’s really helpful, my son reverses the d more than b, will try these tips.

Vicki

says:

Thanks very much! My foster daughter struggles with letter reversals. The bat/ball/b and doorknob/door/d examples may be very helpful! I look forward to introducing these ideas to her.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Vicki,
You’re so welcome. I’d love to hear how it goes.

Louise

says:

My son is struggling with the formation of b and d. Thank you for this teaching tip.

Rebecca

says:

Great ideas will be trying them.

Amy

says:

Great post! I especially like the idea of holding up your hands to make the bed. My girls write in cursive only, so they don’t reverse there – but it happens every now and then when we practice reading. Thank you for this post.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Amy. The bed is helpful, but if your girls are older and have been confusing b and d in reading for a long while, consider doing the arm writing and possibly tactile letters too. I know it can seem silly, but it is really helpful for stubborn reversals. On the other hand, if they are still within the first year or so of learning to read, gentle corrections and things like the bed will most likely fix the problem.

Let me know if you have questions or need further help.

Andrea Ortiz

says:

Thank you Marie! I am looking forward to applying these multi-sensory methods! I just finished level 3 with my two students who previously struggled in reading. They have been so successful with this program! Thank you for sharing your expertise, as it is proving to be an invaluable experience!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It’s so great to hear that your students are having success with All About Reading, Andrea! Thank you.

Barbara Christianson

says:

This is fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

Kelly Clarke

says:

This is so so so helpful! Thank you dovery much!

Suzanna McCarthy

says:

Thank you. will try out today with my grandson. I love the baseball/doorknob. trying to think of images for g/q, p/q. Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Suzanna,
For Q, stress that Q is always followed by U. All About Reading and All About Spelling teach QU as a single phonogram and have the two letters on a tile together. Q never appears alone. Thinking of Q always with U helps a lot in minimizing reversals with it. As for remembering how to form the Q correctly, teach a handwriting form that has the lowercase Q have a little tail that curls to the right then explain that the Q’s tail underlines the U because they are always together.

Hopefully focusing on Q and U together as a team will help with both the g/q and p/q reversal problems your grandson is having. Otherwise, you could do something like g is a girl with a grin (the tail curving under the round part of the letter like a grin on the bottom of a face) while q is a queen with a curl (the tail curving away from the round part of the letter like hair curling away from the back of the head). Or for p and q, p has a point (the straight part is formed first, making the “point”) and q is a queen with a curl.

If your grandson is younger, just 6 or 7 or younger, reversals are still very normal. Gentle corrections and little stories like this will help him to outgrow reversals in time. However, if these reversals are an ongoing problem and he is older, consider focusing on a single letter at a time and adding in the movement oriented work outlined in this blog post. The air writing and tactile letters seem sillyish, but they are highly effective. And by focusing on just one letter at a time, you help cement the correct orientation of that one letter.

Please let me know if you need further help or have any questions.

Julie

says:

We really struggle with this. These are great ideas!

Gina

says:

Thank you so much for sharing all these wonderful tips! This is just what I needed for my 10 yr old. We love the All About Reading and All About Spelling curriculum!

melissa l

says:

Excellent ideas & very easy to implement!

John Petters

says:

So my son he is 14 he always messes up his d’s and b’s when he is writing it out also his q’s and p’s does this mean anything but this is only when he is writing never anywhere else does this mean he has dyslexia or no…?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

John,
Reversals like this in older students is one symptom, out of many, of dyslexia. However, one symptom alone does not mean it is dyslexia. Take a look at our Symptoms of Dyslexia Screening Checklist and see if there are any other symptoms that your son also has.

Keep in mind that when writing, students have many things to focus on: content, handwriting, creativity, organization, punctuation, spelling, grammar, capitalization, what kind of audience they are addressing, and more. It’s a lot to think about at once! This explains why errors such as this happen when writing but not elsewhere. One way to address it is to encourage your student to reread everything he writes looking for errors such as reversals and other things. He may not find them all but he won’t find any if he doesn’t check.

After you look through the checklist, please let me know if you have any questions about dyslexia or anything else.

Indrani Mahadik

says:

Some times p & 9 is also create same problem—- plz guide me in details

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Indrani,
While b and d are the most common for children to reverse, there are many combinations of letters and numbers that can cause problems for kids. What is the age of the child? If the child is young, below 8 years old, I would just give gentle reminders each time it happens and have him or her fix it. Reversed letters and numbers are a normal part of development with young learners and gentle reminders are typically all that is needed to correct the problem, especially when it’s just one or two numbers or letters that are a problem.

However, if the child is older or has been reversing p and 9 for a long period of time, a more focused approach may be necessary. Tips #1 and 2 are very useful for this. It may be best to work on just one at a time for a few minutes a day.

I hope this helps some, but please let me know if you need more.

Lauri

says:

Please send me more information.
Thank you!

Tiffany

says:

Do you have any tips on writing numbers backwards as well?

Merry

says: Customer Service

Great question, Tiffany! Actually, these techniques will work for number reversals too. Some other tips:

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. As they learn some cues such as analogies for the numbers, you can walk them through how to decide which number they wrote or read.)

You can try the tactile, 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 your student say the number to help link the two concepts. 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 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 he misreads a number, you can have him 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. My kids 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!

Another tip: “6 sits, 9 stands up” for kids who get those 2 confused.

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.

As with any reversal, there’s no “magic bullet,” but consistently working on them a little each day over time will gradually reduce and correct them. I hope this helps!

Deepa

says:

Very beautifully and clearly explained.. I liked this idea and will definitely implement in my classroom

Merry

says: Customer Service

Thanks, Deepa! Reversals are so challenging for kids, but we hope this makes them a bit easier to overcome for your students.

Roberta Collins

says:

Good suggestion

Cecilia

says:

Wonderlike manier om kind te help

Merry

says: Customer Service

Thanks for your kind words, Cecilia! We hope it helps you help the children in your life.

Alta

says:

Please send me info on this article

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Alta–check your email :-).

Jacqueline

says:

This was very helpful.

Alta

says:

Valuable information!

Avril Kaspersen

says:

Thank you for super tips!

Marieke

says:

OK, I have a question. My son (6) will sometimes make his b and d correctly. Other times, he will completely mix them up. And there there are times when he writes a b like he should be writing a d, but mirrored. So it will look like a b but the formation of it was incorrect. Or he’ll write a d like a mirrored b. He will also still sometimes write completely in reverse (his name for example). So for me, the idea of teaching him that b is a bat (line) & ball (circle), or d is doorknob (circe) and door (line), is a moot point because he may write the line first but then make the circle on the wrong side of it. When I practise letter formation with him, I let him make a full line of b’s and d’s and it goes perfectly well. I then let him make small words dat have b’s and/or d’s in them. It goes mostly well but he’ll start making the odd mistake. For school he also needs to learn 10 spelling words every week and he gest a test. The teacher will mark the word incorrect if he reverses a letter and he gets very frustrated because of that. When he does free writing he will mostly make mistakes especially with the b and d, but sometimes he writes a in reverse as well. With reading, especially in context of the sentence, he doesn’t often make mistakes because he relies on his word image I think. I really don’t know what to do to get him to differentiate correctly between the letters.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Marieke,
Poor guy. I’m especially sad to hear that his problem with reversals is causing him to get words wrong on his spelling tests too.

It seems that he is a bit unsure about the left-to-right aspect of English writing. Try putting a mark, and teaching him to put a mark, on the left side of his paper within the margin before he begins writing. Then remind him that that side is first and second is further away from that mark. So when b is “bat first then ball”, he knows the bat (the line) must be closest to the left side and the ball (round part) is second. For d, the doorknob (round part) must be closest to the left side and the door (the line) is second. Maybe this will help him.

However, I recommend the other tips in this blog post as well. The air writing using the whole arm (tip 2) seems to be especially helpful for many kids. It uses large muscles that help create muscle memory of the letters and it also helps to establish directionality in relation to the child’s own body. Combine the movement with saying the sound the letter makes. I know the air writing can seem silly or awkward, but it does help. You can also make tactile letters for tracing (tip 1). Feeling the letter changes the practice and how it is processed in the mind.

Work with him for a couple minutes a day, focusing on just one letter a day. If you work with both at once it could make the confusion worse. Do air writing, talk about “first the bat then the ball” or “first the doorknob and then the door” discussing what side of the paper is first, trace the tactile letter a few times, and practice writing a few letters. Throughout each day’s review, say the sound of the letter while practicing it these many different ways.

He may need a couple of minutes of review a day like this for a while before all his problems with reversals are gone, but I’d expect to see improvement before long. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions. And please let me know if you don’t see improvement in a couple of weeks or so.

Marietjie

says:

Thanks again. This helps me a lot

liannpa

says:

Thank you for the e-book!

Kate

says:

Differentiating between how b and d are formed when writing (starting with stick vs ball first) is a great method I haven’t seen in many handwriting methods. I will definitely use this.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kate,
I know Handwriting Without Tears teaches the letters formation of b and d in this way.

MICHELLE HULL

says:

Thank you…I love these ideas and will be trying them this week.

Rosemary

says:

Thank you so much for all the helpful resources on this site! Letter reversal with b and d is definitely a challenge for my five year old son. I am excited to try these suggestions; particularly the analogy of the bat/ball and doorknob/door. All About Reading is helping my son thrive!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rosemary,
It’s great to hear that All About Reading is helping your son to thrive! As this article mentions, reversals are a normal part of learning at such a young age. Quick review of the letters, including the bat/ball and doorknob/door and other tips, along with gentle correction each time it happens should make a difference. However, if you don’t see the problem become less frequent over the next few months, please let us know.

Jocelyn Warren

says:

So helpful! Thank you!

Jocelyn

says:

I think this is helpful especially the note about using the whole arm to air write. I use the strategy partially with just the pointed finger, but now I know the wisdom behind it. I will try these strategies as needed.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jocelyn,
Yes. Arm writing with the entire arm seems a bit silly and awkward when you are doing it, but it does help with reversals and learning proper letter formation.

Tiffany

says:

Thank you. This is very helpful.

Zrinjka

says:

Helpful and Creative, thanks

Elizabeth

says:

Here is a free online game to help with reversals (not just the typical ones)
http://yourkidcanread.com/HTML5%20games/Reversal%20Games/index.html

Deborah

says:

Helpful!

Michelle McGruder

says:

Wow! I LOVE this visual! Thank you for sharing. I am in an early childhood intervention teacher and searching for strategies for reversals. Thanks again!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Michelle. I hope this helps you with your students, but let us know if you need more ideas.

Nancy

says:

Thank you. What if a child reverses the lower case letter ‘e’? This is not a common reversal. The student has no significant problem with other letter reversals (occasionally reverses them). Lots of practice printing ‘e’ with little homemade rhymes works when targeting just that skill but doesn’t transfer into any other writing activities. Do you have suggestions? And yes, this child struggles to learn to read!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nancy,
If the child is still younger than 7 or 8 years old, I wouldn’t worry much. Gently correct when he or she writes the e backwards and continue to work on for a few moments a day. Try the arm writing too. The big movements are helpful.

However, please let us know if your student is older or this doesn’t slowly get better.

Hettie Steenkamp

says:

Thanks for great tips.
Do you have one for identifying the right and left hand.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Hetti,
Right and left can be tricky for many young learners! Is your child right-handed? If yes, then tell him or her that their right hand is the one you write with. “You write with your right hand,” did the trick for a couple of my kids that struggled with this concept.

If your child is a lefty, you can try having them stick their thumb and forefinger of both hands out. It forms an L on the left hand, “L for left.” However, the right hand forms a backward L and if your child has problems with reversals, this tip doesn’t work well.

You can draw, put a sticker, bracelet, or otherwise mark one hand. Don’t try to teach both right and left, but rather focus on one only. I like to choose whichever is the child’s dominant hand. For example, if your child is a lefty, mark his or her left hand. Tell him that this is his left hand. Then, ask him multiple times a day which hand is left? Which is not left? Focus on left and not-left until he has it down very well, then introduce “right” in place of “not-left”.

Be sure the child understands that his left and right never changes. His left is always this side and his right is always that side. What changes is who’s left or right we are talking about. A person speaking will often speak of their own left or right, which may be the opposite of the child’s because the person is facing the opposite direction. And when we speak of a left or right drawer, we mean the drawer on the left or right as you stand in front of the desk or dresser. The left or right of a car is based on the left or right of the person sitting in the driver’s seat. All of these different orientations of left and right add to the confusion, and can leave some children thinking that their left and right can change.

I hope this helps. The biggest thing is just to work on this briefly most days. Kids that struggle with left and right need to keep it in ongoing review for a long while before they fully master it.

Evelyn Miller

says:

I’ve been using this technique for years.

B or D: Thumbs up, not fingers up – touch knuckles together.

P or Q: Turn thumbs down.

😃

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Evelyn! This is a great tip.

Nabewieyah

says:

And what if the child writes the 5 and 2 backwards

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What is the age of the child? If the child is young, below 8 years old, I would just give gentle reminders each time it happens and have him or her fix it. Reversed letters and numbers are a normal part of development with young learners and gentle reminders are typically all that is needed to correct the problem, especially when it’s just a single number that is a problem.

However, if the child is older or has been reversing 5 and 2 for a long period of time, a more focused approach may be necessary. Tips #1 and 2 are very useful for this. It may be best to work on just one of the numbers at a time in a focused time of day separate from math time. Since 5 and 2 are similar, I would be concerned that working on both daily may strengthen the confusion and not remove it.

Make a tactile 5 have him or her trace the number a few times a day. Then have him or her do arm writing of the number 5. Spending just 3 to 5 minutes a day working on writing 5 correctly until he or she writes is correct more often than not. Then start working on 2, but briefly review 5 each day as well.

Let us know if these things don’t start to help especially after working on it for a few weeks.

ondieki jotham

says:

What about if the child writes 5 upside down. how would you help.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What is the age of the child? If the child is young, say 5 or 6 and maybe even 7, I would just give gentle reminders each time it happens and have him or her fix it. Reversals or flipped letters and numbers are a normal part of development with young learners and gentle reminders are typically all that is needed to correct the problem, especially when it’s just a single number that is a problem.

However, if the child is older or has been writing 5s upside down for a long period of time, a more focused approach may be necessary. Tips #1 and 2 are very useful for this. Make a tactile 5 and place a colored dot for the starting place (top and right). Have him or her trace the number a few times a day. Then have him or her do arm writing of the number 5. Spending just 3 to 5 minutes a day working on writing 5 correctly, especially with these very movement and touching filled techniques, will go a long way toward helping alleviate the problem.

Let us know if these things don’t start to help especially after working on it for a few weeks.

Jenny

says:

Oh my goodness, I am so glad I have found your site. These are awesome.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jenny,
If you need further help with reversals or anything else, please let us know!

mary

says:

This is great. Thanks for sharing.

Mellisha kevete

says:

I need such tips as I am taking elc/prep/1 class and students have such problems in class.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mellisha,
The tips in this blog post have helped many children to conquer letter reversals. Many children overcome reversals with a few tricks and occasional, gentle reminders. However, please be aware that sometimes letter reversals get so “stuck” in a child’s head that it can take working on them for a few minutes a day for a long while before they are successful.

K would love this to help my grandchildren.

Karen Evans

says:

Brilliant information

Julie

says:

I find hope in this posting. I am excited to try the tips listed here with my kids.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Julie,
I hope these tips do help your kids. If you have any questions or need further help, please let us know.

What a wonderful page: Afrikaans t and d….. helps a lot to check what you hear when going to plurals:
example…..

Teach the child to find a different ways in which he could use the same word which might brings a different
meaning to the word or just singular and plural
or just use singulars and plurals… be creative, teach the child to think creative and make examples… put them
up on a space on the classroom board / corner

hoed / hoede
groot / groter
groet / groete

which to use ‘t’ or ‘d’

1. the man is wearing a hat…
Afrikaans ‘single’ – hoed

lots of people wears hats
Afrikaans ‘plural’ – hoede

deciding between the letter ‘t’ or ‘d’

2. the ball is very big – Afrikaans groot
I have a bigger ball – Afrikaans groter

3. greeting our teacher – ons groet ons juffrou
mom and dad send greetings – ma en pa stuur groete

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Magda! This is very helpful.

Teacher

says:

Hi there. I teach Gr 1, and use the above methods teaching 1 letter at a time. We have a little boy that, when doing unsupervised writing, writes backwards and upside down at the same time. Starting right to left. Directional issues…..
How to kindly explain to parents that early intervention is needed to correct this before these habits are ingrained? Your article states this is normal? This is not a simple b/d reversal….

Teacher

says:

Sorry, can I rephrase my question please. When do we advise intervention? I do totally agree that reversing the b,d,p,9 is normal at this age, but should kindly be helped to correct it so it does not become fixed – and mostly it does correct itself with maturity. How does one tell when it is more serious?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

If the child is under the age of 8, this is within normal range of expectations. The fact that English starts on the left and moves right is arbitrary; many languages read right to left. Also, up and down for letters is difficult as well. Lower case b and p are identical, except one is an up and down mirror image of the other. Some children have trouble remembering not only the shape but the direction of letters, just as some children take a long time to learn left and right.

Unless the student is showing a number of other signs of dyslexia, problems with directionality isn’t a worry for young learners. Rather, we recommend reminding the student about what direction we write in and giving gentle corrections for backward and upside down writing. To help him be the best start, you could place a sticker in the upper left corner of his pages so he can remember to start on the left and top of his page.

Most students that struggle with directionality when they are 5 and 6 years old will have no problem with it at 8. However, if he is showing other symptoms that are concerning, having him evaluated for a possible learning issue can result in early intervention that can make a large difference.

Rona

says:

The letter T and D at the end of a word. In Afrikaans. How do you correct that ?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m not sure, Rona. Is your student reading Ts as Ds and vice versa at the end of words? Or is he or she spelling these sounds wrong? I don’t have any experience with Afrikaans, but in English it is common for Ts to sound like Ds in unaccented syllables. Maybe that is what is happening with your student.

If he is confusing the two letters, then the tips outlined in this blog post can help. On the other hand, if he is hearing the wrong sound because of pronunciation issues, then our blog post on Pin or Pen? Solving Short I / Short E Confusion would be more helpful.

Once you determine the root cause of his or her confusion, you can begin to address it. Regardless of the cause, if this problem has been going on for a long time you will need to work on it for a few minutes a day for a long while for your student to fully master it.

I hope this helps some.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rona,
Please read Magda’s excellent reply about t and d in Afrikaans. I think you will find it much more helpful than my reply was. Here is the link https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/letter-reversals/#comment-124434

Aysha Fridie

says:

Very informative. Thank you :)

Grace

says:

So clever! Thanks. My 7 yr old gets b & d confused. Will definitely use yr suggestions. Thanks so much.

Anndee

says:

Thanks for these tips. I appreciate it!

Kirsten

says:

I was working with a 3rd grade girl in an afterschool program today for the first time and found she kept writing b as p. I tried to point it out to her but she seemed to not even see what I meant. I actually sometimes write my b as p and vice versa as well, especially when I’m tired. Is this the same issue as b to d, or different.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Kirsten,

Yes, this is a vertical reversal instead of a horizontal one. Air-writing might really help her with this–using large arm movements the arm is above the head when you make the circle part of a p, but down by the torso when you make the circle part of a b. Help her to see the difference as you model for her (side-by-side–not facing her or she might reverse the movements), and then let her feel the difference as she makes each one. Then focus on just one letter to try to cement that letter’s movement and reinforce what that one looks like, pair it with the letter sound etc…

Nisha

says:

Gr8job
Thanks for lovely guideline

Merry

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome!

Courtney

says:

My 5 year old did not have a problem with b/d reversal while we were doing the Pre-reading program, however she started getting confused between the two about half way through Level 1 (only while reading, not writing.) This post is very helpful for me as I was beginning to worry. Thank you for the suggestions!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Courtney,
I’m glad you found this article helpful. Please let us know if this continues to be a problem so that we can help further.

Stacy

says:

Great article..

Joanna A

says:

I’ll have to remember this with my youngest. She has trouble with vision, and I’m pretty sure she’ll struggle with the difference between d and b.

Narae

says:

Great article. Reminds me of a word world episode about the difference between “b” and “d” using the bed as reference.

Erica

says:

This is so helpful! We definitely struggle with these. My daughter had got it down for a long time, was writing all her letters right then she reverted and started making them all backwards again. Any idea why? She’s almost 8. Gets her 9 and Ps messed up. Her 5 and Z. 2 and 3.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Erica,
Children often have regression of skills when they progress to harder work (reading, spelling, or since she is reversing numbers, math). However, regression of skills can also happen if children are stressed or anxious for other reasons as well. Since she didn’t have reversals for a long time and now it has suddenly returned, I would try just reminding her gently each time she reverses and seeing how it goes. If it doesn’t start to improve in a couple of weeks, then try working on reversals for a few minutes a day outside of other school time.

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

Stacey

says:

My child is only 3.5, but these are good tips to teach him now so to avoid confusion later.

Melissa Bell

says:

I am going to try several of these with my 8 year old. I think this might help her.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Melissa,
Please let us know if you need additional help for anything.

Joy perina

says:

Awesome program

Jori Wachowiak

says:

These are great ideas! I’m teaching my 5 year-old letters and this will be very helpful. Thank you!

Britni

says:

Love love love this post. My 5 year struggles with b, d, and p confusion as well as lowercase q and g. The suggestions here are wonderful!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Britni,
Let us know if you need additional help to help your child.

Lydia Hostetler

says:

Letter reversal is not a major issue here. 2 of mine were late learning to read, and one was dyslexic. I tried to not stress over it, the problem took back burner, so to speak. We focused on other things and today he has got them switched to the right way.

Becki

says:

We tried the bed trick for our 7 year old. It didn’t help. He had no issues with left to right directionality, so we said a baby walking has a belly and a diaper. I just had to ask him for a few weeks as to whether he saw a belly or a diaper. Now he has no problems with those letters.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Becki,
Your belly and diaper analogy is too cute! I’m glad it worked for your child.

R Vissing

says:

Our 9’s are still struggling with b & d some days. We use the “bed” hand letters and that helps. But very thankful for the tips to try to help them overcome the letter reversal issue!

Sarah Gentry

says:

We really need all about reading

Jocelyn

says:

Interesting I just corrected my daughter for making circle first for the “d”. Won’t do that any more. We use “b” has a belly, “d” has a derrier.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jocelyn,
Many handwriting programs teach that the letters are made from left to right, so the circle part of the d would be formed first. This is the way the letter d is formed with cursive as well. Having b and d formed differently does help with reversals.

Holli

says:

Lots of great suggestions!

Marie Prins

says:

Sometimes letter reversals are a symptom of visual efficiency issues. If these reversals persist past age 8 with or without using the excellent suggestions above, consider researching the topic of “vision and reading.”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for this reminder, Marie!

Kim

says:

This helped our family a lot! Thank you!

Jennifer R

says:

Great information to help my 8 year old who has dyslexia and confuses his letters and numbers. All About Reading and All About Spelling has helped him so much! Also helpful for my five year old who is beginning to read!

Patsy Foy

says:

This is perfect timing reading this. My 11 yr old daughter is still struggling with reversals.

Shauna Hingston

says:

B & d were easy for my child but m & n were super hard for her to separate.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Has your child mastered m and n, Shauna? If not, many of these techniques will help with different letter pairs, or even numbers. One of my children confused n and l for a long time, which seemed strange as they look nothing alike. I had an epiphany when I realized that the tongue placement for n and l is almost identical. These tips, but with a different analogy of course, helped him mastered the letters.

Crystal

says:

Great article

Katrina

says:

I think this will be very helpful with my 3 & 5 year olds. The one is just learning to read so hopefully I can teach her before she gets confused. The other already mixed then up, this sounds like great advice for helping her.

Jessica

says:

Now that my daughter is almost 9 we haven’t had as many reversals. But we did use method 3 for her b and d. Word World on PBS actually had an episode with a song she liked about b and d.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
Thank you for telling us about the song. I’m sure we could find it on YouTube.

Jade

says:

The analogy b has a belly and d has a diaper is the one I used with my 5 y.o. He still mixes them up, but I say if I just say diaper for a d he fixes it. I love all the little pictures for these analogies.

Carol Davis

says:

I have done the “belly” and “derrière” but these are fantastic as well. I like the bat and doorknob.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Carol,
I did belly and derrière many years ago, but I like bat and doorknob too.

Hillary

says:

Very helpful!

Katrina

says:

Great tips for little readers! Thank you

Karen

says:

These are fantastic! My 5.5 year old consistently has trouble reversing b and d when reading. I am trying the bat/ball vs. Doorknob/door strategy

Deborah

says:

Thank you for these helpful ideas. I think my son will appreciate using his hands to show the “b” and “d” letters to himself.

Vanessa

says:

Excelent article. Thank you!

Hope K

says:

Love all the extra tips… My daughter writes “bed” at the top of her spelling practice pages as a reminder. I will have to try the writing tip and see if that make a difference for her too! Thank Y’all!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Hope,
The air writing seems a bit silly, but it does work. Definitely give it a try!

Erica

says:

Oh I needed this!! Thanks!

Nicole D.

says:

This is timely for us!

Jess

says:

Great post with helpful information. Thanks

Dian

says:

Thanks..helpful info

Karen

says:

Great tips, my 5 year old not only mixes letters up but her a and h both have the stick on the wrong side and her z is back the front. Her name is Zarah so the only letter she gets right is the r. Any tips for these?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Karen,
My best tip is to do handwriting instruction with her daily. Handwriting Without Tears was specially designed with students developmental needs in mind and reduces reversals. Focusing on correct letter formation each day can go a long way toward helping young writers avoid these sorts of problems.

Jessica

says:

We love Handwriting without tears. Only writing program I have been able to get my daughter to do! She loves the CD and the lessons are short and simple. It makes it near impossible to reverse any letter.

Amanda

says:

Thanks for the tips. My son sometimes confuses s and c. Probably because sometimes c makes the sss sound. I’ll have to try some of these ideas.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
There is a rule for when C says /s/, if you haven’t learned it yet. C only says /s/ before the letters e, i, and y. If C is immediately before any other letter, it says it’s hard /k/ sound. If your son hasn’t learned the rule yet, learning it might help him to confuse the two less often. We have a poster for this and other C related rules as well: Kid’s Club Rule.

marilus

says:

Great idea!! thank you

Benny

says:

Good idea 💡, thank you.

Marcy

says:

great post, wish I had seen/found some of this earlier on in my youngest son’s first years homeschooling. thanks !

Tammy

says:

Very helpful info. Thank you!

Anna

says:

Thank you!

Princess Dominique

says:

Interesting

Darshita

says:

Superb I like it

Nabewieyah

says:

Thank you very much. Any ideas for “w” and “m”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nabewieyah,
Tips #1 and 2 will work with any letters or even numbers.

For tip #3, you need a different analogy of course. How about “W waves its arms in the wind. Wave-wind-/w/”? Then, “M makes mountains. Makes-mountains-/m/”. The beginning and end of W are it’s waving arms, and the humps of M are its mountains.

Lastly, for tip #4, note that the mouth is open when we say /w/, just like W is open on top. When we say /m/ our mouths are closed, just like the letter M is closed. If you write W and M on a line you can see more easily that W is open and M is closed.

I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have further questions or need more help with this.

Nabewieyah

says:

Thank you very much Robin E. This is very helpful.

Adria

says:

Thank you!

Nancy

says:

I show my daughter by telling her for the letter D to draw a C first and then a stick and tell her to say c the d. I leave it at that to not confuse her with a rhym for B. If c the d is for D then the B is the other way. I try not to overload her with too muc to remember.

Daisy

says:

Thank you very useful

Thanks for sharing amazing tips and very helpful.

Soha Altimani

says:

Very useful methods, thanks a lot .

Rhea

says:

Amazing!!!

Tahira Hakeem

says:

Really great to know. I m a teacher and many children confused in writing b d p. Thank u so much

Emily

says:

Absolutely great!

Holly

says:

This is so interesting and so simple to follow thanks for sharing this as my son will start learning to read this year it is helpful.

Tania

says:

Thank you

karen smith

says:

Thanks for simplifying the reversals.

Aarti

says:

Wonderful methods, very well thought of

Zinhle

says:

So helpful

Mynie

says:

Great way to explain the difference. Thanks

Ena

says:

Very educational!

Chimi Lhamo

says:

Superb!!! Got solution to the problem with my students. A huge “Thank you”

Suzette Stassen

says:

Thank you so much for this.

Geraldine

says:

Very usefull and handy

Thelma Abrahams

says:

Very useful resources.

Elaine

says:

Thank you

Traci

says:

This would really help with my aide work

olufolake

says:

Great! Thanks for sharing!

Judy Wellbeloved

says:

Thank you – I will definately try these suggestions with a gr5 boy in my class who is very dyslexic and battles with a b/d confusion.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Judy. However, please be aware that older students that have been struggling with reversals for many years often need to work on the reversals for a few minutes a day for a very long time in order to master them. My co-worker worked with her daughter on reversals for a few minutes daily for almost all of 4th grade before her daughter was finally free of them.

Tejal

says:

Great help thanks

Rinku Poojara

says:

Thanks … Very helpful

I work with dyslexic students and learned this trick from a Susan Barton conference: teach students to either use either their b/p hand (left hand) or their d/q (right hand). Whatever hand holds the pen, teach them the letters of the opposite hand. For example, if a student writes with their right hand, I tell students to get their b/p hand ready.

If they are using the b/p hand, the saying from Susan Barton is “Balloons go up, pigs’ tails get stuck in the mud.”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for the tip, Jennifer.

Becki

says:

We tried using the bat/ball, door/knob, and bed tricks. None helped my 3rd kiddo. We tried “honey bee” and “cd” too. Start with an h (honey) and close it to make a b (bee). Write a c, then close for a d. What finally worked was b has a baby belly, and d has a diaper.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Becki,
We did something similar. With my daughter we said b had a big belly and d had a dainty derriere.

Shuvendra

says:

This is realy good trick to teach my child to write b to b and d to d

yogini

says:

nice ideas, will definitely try on my kid & will let you how it has worked! thanks!!

Susan Mead

says:

I am a special education teacher and for years have worked with students who struggle with b and d reversal. I taught them to make the letters with their fingers by touching their pointer finger to their thumb and leaving the rest of the fingers up. Then they would say the alphabet from left to right- so their left shoulder is A, the b is their left hand (which they can clearly see), the c is in the middle and the d is their right hand. They can easily check this on their own without drawing attention to themselves and it has worked perfectly every time!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Susan! It’s a clever activity that can help a lot. I particularly like that it gives them the direction of b and d in relation to their own body, as some children struggle with that.

Daniella

says:

Thank you this gives me a lot of confidence that with diligence and patience my son and I can conquer reversals! This had been worrying me excessively before I read this blog post.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Daniella,
Occasionally, an older child that has been making reversal errors for a long time will need to work for a few minutes daily for a long while to finally master reversals. My co-worker spent a few minutes a day for most of her daughter’s 4th grade year, but her daughter did master reversals once and for all. Your child can too.

Rachel

says:

The bed diagram strategy helped my child a lot. She is 12 still confusing letters. Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
I just want add that students that are older and still struggling with reversals may need regular, ongoing work in order to finally conquer it. My co-worker had to spend a few minutes each day for almost a full school year before her daughter finally mastered reversals.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need anything.

Temalesi

says:

I like that. The demonstration b and d really helps

Temalesi

says:

I like that. The demonsrtrationof b and d really helps

karyn

says:

My almost 6 YO definitely reverses her b & d. Thank you for the tips!

Carrie

says:

Do you offer student materials that contain a font that is friendly for dyslexic students?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Carrie,
We do not have materials that are printed in a special dyslexia font. Our All About Reading 1 Readers are printed in Karmina Sans Light 20pt font, which is a straight forward font to read printed in a nice, large size. Our books are also printed on a non-glare paper. Many children have trouble with bright white or glossy white paper, so we tested dozens of papers for the Readers until finding the best non-glare, lower contrast paper for readability.

We are committed to using well researched and proven methods to help children become successful readers. There is only one study that we know of regarding a dyslexia font and it found no increase in reading speed while using the Dyslexie font compared to the Arial font. While it did find a decrease in some types of errors with the Dyslexie font, there was also an increase in other types of errors. This study did not look at the long term effect of using a dyslexia font, nor did it study dyslexic children.

Our goal is getting students to the point where they can read any material they choose well. This means they need to be able to read industry standard printing fonts well. We focus on methods proven to help dyslexic students succeed in reading and spelling, such as the Orton Gillingham Approach.

I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

it has helped a lot as a new teacher for an childhod

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.

Nancy Barth

says:

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!

P

says:

Thank you!

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!

Dianna Auton

says:

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.