I got a call from a close friend today. She was very irritated as her 5.5 years old daughter started mirror writing some alphabets. She was visibly upset as her daughter otherwise has a very neat handwriting which is far better than handwriting of children of her age. The little girl speaks fluent English, has an impeccable handwriting and looks like a normal healthy child. All this confused my friend. Then we discussed about it and I shared with her that it is a very common thing with children.
I am blessed to be surrounded by such good friends who keep providing me food for thought. My friend suggested me to write on this topic to spread awareness on mirror writing. After reading this we won’t vent out frustration on our children for mirror writing. Cheers to our Bachha Party!
What is Mirror Writing –At times a child can form exactly reverse image of an alphabet, a number or a word. This image will be such that if we hold it in front of a mirror it can be read normally. For Example- b can look like d, 9 can look like P so on and so forth. A very good example of mirror image in our daily life can be noticed on an Ambulance. The word Ambulance is written in mirror image form so that the driver can read it correctly in his rear view mirror and give way to the vehicle immediately.
These points should be kept in mind-
- Children form mirror images while writing between ages 3-7 years. They generally improve on their own by 8 years of age.
- A child who is forming mirror images is as healthy as any other child.(except rare cases where there is any other medical issue)
- It does not have anything to do with intellectual capabilities of a child.
- A child with good fine motor skills and immaculate handwriting can mirror write.
- Mirror reading is also common. For example- ‘top’ can be read as ‘pot’
- Children have weak perceptual abilities that causes this.
- Both left-handed and right-handed children can do it.
- The upward-downward, front-back, left-right orientation still confuses them at times. This concept gets clearer with age.
- At times, a child can mirror write an entire word.
- A child takes his own time to learn how to walk- He crawls, walks with support and then gradually walks independently – these are all developmental stages. Similarly children improve their writing skills with time and age. One cannot expect them to do wonders instantly. You just need to handle the child with loads of patience and calmness. These are some ways for parents to help their wards improve mirror writing-
- Gently correct the child every time. Reprimanding is a big NO.
- You can paste a big chart on a wall where your child can see it. Write the correct form of alphabet/ number. It works well as sight words for visual learners.
- You can play a game where correct images and mirror images of numbers are written randomly. Let the child encircle the correct images. Set realistic expectations as the child might not be able to do it in one go.
- Make practicing fun. It is too boring for the child to practice on a paper. Different aids like chalk-slate or a sand tray could be used. Finger tracing on a sand tray is fun.
- Learning can happen in the outdoors too. Collect pebbles in park/playground. Let the child make correct images with those pebbles and you can form mirror images with them. Do not instruct the child but play with him.
- Match the correct images with their mirror images. It will make the child aware about the differences in the two. If it is confusing your child then try other methods.
- Children get confused between b and d. We can teach them the difference between the two alphabets as shown in the photo below-
Do not make the child feel over conscious about the whole thing. Make him aware about mirror writing in a subtle way and do not be pushy. Avoid discussing such issues related to your child with friends or relatives- Children have sharp ears and might overhear everything while playing. It leaves a mark on their mind and can have a detrimental effect on the confidence in the long run.
Dispel the myth that your child might be mentally defective. Be happy that a notable personality- Leonardo Da Vinci practiced mirror writing deliberately to give his work an unusual effect. Period.