Mirror mirror in his writing?

By: Dr. Stacy Meyer

Sprout is really into “projects” lately.  These “projects” can range from elaborate pictures with sculpture like paper additions to a piece of construction paper with a few stickers on it.  Recently he has taken to making these projects for various friends and has even been writing their names on their gifts.  This is exciting as at the age of 4 years, he has only recently started to write letters by memory.  A few days ago, however, he brought me a “project” that left me a little surprised and just a little worried.

He had written his friends name in a complete mirror image…not just a letter or two backwards but the entire name and every letter!  I knew as a parent and pediatrician that the occasional letter backward was normal but was not prepared for this elaborate display (I am not sure I could have recreated this purposefully).  Back to the development books I went, and here are some interesting points regarding preschool writing from what I read:

  • “ Mirror writing” of all or certain letters (especially b and d) is normal in young children aged 3-7 years learning to write
    • Rates for mirror writing in one study by Brennan showed the following incidence by age:
      • 4 years: 24.4%
      • 5 years: 17.7%
      • 6 years: 11.4%
      • 7 years 9.2%
      • 8 yeas 1.7%

 

  • Preschool aged children do not appreciate the difference in this writing as they can’t yet read the words and don’t have phonetic understanding of the groupings of letters.
    • Letters are learned symbols to children at this age (ie this group of squiggles is my name) so upside down or backward, those squiggles are their name (just like a tree upside down is still a tree!)

 

  • There is a higher incident of mirror writing in left handed or ambidextrous children!
    • Left facing letters (such as J and Z) also have a higher incidence of mirror writing

 

  • Children are more likely to mirror write from memory than from a copy
    • A study by Fischer and Tazouti in 2012 testing 300 children shows an incidence of 20% if by memory vs. 0.5% if copied

 

  • Left to right orientation is a learned concept that isn’t fully developed until 5-8 years of age in most children

 

Hopefully, this reassures other moms out there (as it has for me) as we watch our little ones acquire this new skill!

By: Dr. Stacy Meyer – “Dr. Mom Squad”

Dr. Meyer is a pediatric endocrinologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital. She is the mother of two boys who she lovingly refers to as “Busy Bee” and “Sprout!” As part of the “Dr. Mom Squad,” Dr. Meyer blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Meyer!

 

 

Sources:

  • Mirror writing: neurological reflections on an unusual phenomenon: G D Schott
  • Journal Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. 2007 January; 78(1): 5–13. Published online 2006 August.
  • Mirror Writing and Hand Dominance in Children: A New Perspective on Motor and Perceptual Theories: Ailbhe Brennan The University of Edinburgh
  • Comment
  • Rate this article
    5393
    Thanks!
    An error occurred!

eGrowing Together

is a monthly e-newsletter of child health, safety and parenting tips from the pediatric experts at Dayton Children's.

Subscribe to the blog

We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

Subscribe