Monthly Archives: March 2014

Teaching Writing – Letter Reversals

Just wanted to write a quick post about letter reversals because looking at Jude’s recent writing showed that he is still occasionally doing it at the age of six. My boy loves writing his own stories, he has suddenly taken to producing these books with stories in. This is his first little book, which he made by himself a few weeks ago…

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Five scraps of paper (about 7cm square) stapled together, with illustrations of course.

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I have lots of old notebooks or partially used school books so he writes in those now and recently spent a long time composing a story for my birthday, all his own idea by the way. Obviously, when your child makes you a gift you can’t point out mistakes, however much my teacher brain winced at the sight of the mix of upper and lower case letters on the front and back covers and the fact that he had reversed the letter P. I wrote a while ago about how introducing the Letterland characters helped him with this when he was initially learning his letters as they have a ‘story’ about how to form each one. He can usually remember that Bouncy Ben has tall sticking up ears but when we write Dippy Duck we stroke her back first. Here is Jude’s book cover…

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…yes, this wonderful work of fiction really is entitled “Helen’s grump”! And here is the back…

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Love the little self-portrait on the back, showing off his afro, while I look a bit like Voldemorte on the front. Anyway, after pretending to be impressed with the cover, I really was pleased with the writing inside. Of course it’s not the best six year old writing I’ve seen, but considering it was independent and I haven’t been pushing writing much this year at all as he seems to like it and I don’t want to ruin that… considering all that I was delighted to see, apart from clear evidence he is using his phonics (he does phonics online and has six spellings a week to learn which is also his handwriting practise) he has joined almost all of his letters and look – no reversals!

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It is possible to reverse joined letters but it is much less likely as the join becomes part of the letter. I worked in a school this week where the nursery children were learning joined letters, in inner-city Birmingham too, it really does work and I would bet that if he wasn’t joining he would be reversing a whole lot more.

Jude’s idea of sentences is still a bit shaky and he hasn’t got the whole capital letter thing sorted as you can tell by the next page…

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I’m just giving him the tools as and when he needs them, without pushing. He loves writing stories and he is confident enough to sound out pretty much any word, and if it looks wrong then he asks me and then changes it (on the first page you can see where he wrote ‘grumpee’ and changed it after asking me). It’s like coaxing a flame to life, this writing, gently feeding in ideas without extinguishing his enthusiasm. I think it was a pretty amazing birthday present!

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