Why Children Write Letters Backward (Mirror Invariance)

Notes from Shifting the Balance: 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom 

Check it out here on Amazon

Shift 3: A Common Practice to Reconsider

Misunderstanding 1: Learning to recognize letters is just like learning to recognize any other object

Does our visual system translate from real-world 3D to words and paper?

Our visual system is naturally good at recognizing 3-dimensional objects from any direction.

Whether a puppy is standing on its hind legs or rolling on its back, we’re able to recognize it as a puppy.

This is called the mirror invariance, and it is something we MUST unlearn when learning letters.

A puppy is a puppy, upside-down or right-side up, but the letter d flipped backward is no longer the letter d.

It’s a b.

Upside down it’s a q…

The brain must learn to look at letters in a whole new way and it stores the memory differently, too (in the visual word form area).

This explains why X and O —with their symmetry— are easy first letters to learn, and why children write letters and words backward or upside down.

Their brains are still working to unlearn the other way of seeing (mirror invariance).

Join the phonics launch team!

<Read Part 8: Phonemic Awareness Teaching Tips

Read Part 10: What is Scope and Sequence?>

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