Backwards Letters with Kids – Perception
Let me explain Backwards Letters this way; this is a 3 dimensional object – a cup.
If I turn the cup around, the identity of the cup hasn’t changed. If I turn the cup upside down – the identity hasn’t changed – it’s still a cup, and if I hide it – I’ve hidden a … you got it – a cup.
Let’s try a two dimensional object.
Here’s the letter ‘p’. We could say it’s a ball with a long stick. If I turn it once, the identity of the ball and stick has changed to a ‘q’. If I turn it once more, the ball and stick has changed to a ‘b’ – and if I turn it again, it’s a ‘d’. Backwards letters that you may see in a dyslexics writing.
Now you might think – why would children do that?
For a child who is a strong visual thinker, they are trying to think with the meaning of the word just like they think with the identity of an object.
Every letter, every word, every number and every symbol has a meaning.
Our visual thinkers like to think with the meaning – so when they think with the meaning of a letter – well ‘p’ means pah and ‘b’ means bah.
But what about ‘a’ – it can mean 4 different sounds.
When our visual thinkers are trying to think with the meaning or picture of a word, the word d – o – g means a four legged animal with a waggly tail.
The word elephant looks like e-l-e-p-h-a-n-t and means a big animal with a trunk and big ears.
Can you visualise the meaning of book? Are you visualising a hard covered book or soft cover? Is it open or closed?
Now visualise the meaning of the word ‘the’ – what have you got, are you confused?
Ok, I’ll try another one – how about visualising the meaning of the word ‘and’. What have you got? What about visualising the meaning of the word ‘was’? Can you do it…?
For a visual thinker, their brain is desperately trying to search for the visual meaning of a word, and when they can’t find it, they become confused and change what they are seeing, or they change perception.
So without being conscious of what they are doing, when they see the word ‘was’, they will switch the word around and the child might say ‘saw ‘. Oh, got a picture there! And the child might say ‘saw’. But is ‘saw’ correct? No! So they start to feel pressure, start to ‘disorientate’ more quickly and start to make more mistakes.
For a little 6 year old, they don’t have the language skills to be able to say what is happening in their mind. All they know is they are trying their hardest and making lots of mistakes. They don’t feel good. They develop a low threshold for confusion – even at a young age. So by the time they are 8, they are reluctant readers – they will disorientate even at the mention of reading, so what do they do? They start to develop strategies to cope with their feeling of failure.
If your child has had special education at school or had a remedial tutor and continues to struggle, there is help and hope. Don’t wait for your child to struggle for another year.