Mirror Writing

Have your kids done mirror writing? Two of mine have.

When my youngest child was 6, she showed me a book that she had written that day.  My highly creative visual-spatial learner loves to draw, write, and create stories from her imagination.  Every once in awhile she would show me a story or a page and I would see mirror writing.  She didn’t know that she did this either.  

However, I was not concerned.  I had been through this with my older visual-spatial learner already.  He was also into writing and drawing at that age and I would sometimes find words written as through they were written in a mirror.

The front cover of her book looked like this (Interpreted it says Kirby Goes to the Circus):

Many of her letters and numbers were reversed in her writing too.  To help, I started focusing on a couple that she always reversed.  She was motivated to write them correctly (when she remembered) because she “got me” and I had to fake fall-down when she formed them correctly.  Many times when she was doing something she would stop and show me a correctly formed letter so I know I was supposed to “fall”.  Overall, handwriting was a work in progress.

Inside her book were many pages with writing, but there was no mirror writing except for the cover.  Interpreted this page says “Pink Kirby was sleeping, but today is a special day.”

On a typical day there was some kind of book/story in progress.  We did formally practice handwriting, but she wrote far more on her own outside of formal school work so it would take some time to eliminate reversals because she spent a lot of time writing with reversals and incorrect letter formation.

One thing I did to help my older visual-spatial learner was to have him practice mirror writing.  I gave him some words and challenged him to write them backwards like they were in the mirror.  We did that in the car one day while we were waiting for someone.  The mirror writing stopped after that day in the car.  Reversals didn’t, but by around age 9 those weren’t an issue anymore.

He also was an early writer. He didn’t write stories like my daughter, but he taught himself how to write the alphabet by the time he was 3. It took many years to undo incorrect letter formation.

So when my youngest came along, I started some handwriting instruction when I saw her starting to write. But, she wrote on her own so much that the handwriting practice didn’t make a big impact.

I did have my older visual-spatial learner undergo psycho-educational testing and screening for learning-related visual problems.  The testing revealed no major issues and a very strong visual-spatial learning style. I suspect my daughter is also a very strong visual-spatial learner.  

Betty Maxwell from VisualSpatial.org says this about visual spatial learners:

Left and right may be interchangeable for them, hence reversals and mirror writing and reading.

Handwriting was a work in progress.  By the time my older visual-spatial learner was 10, handwriting was much improved. My youngest is now 11 and she has beautiful handwriting. She still loves writing stories and reversals were seen until around the age of 8.  At least in my small subset of visual-spatial learners, mirror writing has been typical.

A couple months ago I had the opportunity to attend a full-day workshop on dyslexia for educators as part of my job. During the workshop, the presenter mentioned that mirror writing was a strong indication of dyslexia.

During a break I went up to her to ask her about this issue further. I described that two of my kids have done mirror writing and did not have difficulty with learning to read. She found the issue puzzling.

Now that I think about it, I believe my children’s mirror writing and reversals were likely a combination of visual-spatial strengths and their desire to write early and often.

Or maybe there is a genetic link, lol. When I was in college and taking a class on the International Phonetic Alphabet, my teacher asked me to stay after class one day. She was concerned about the many reversals that I was doing during the writing-on-the-board tasks. I shared with her that I just hadn’t learned them well enough yet. It was true. Once I learned them, I didn’t have further problems with reversals.

Have your kids done mirror writing?

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