Why kids write letters backward

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  • ℹ️ Description
Why kids write letters backward 5

Almost all kids will mirror write at some point. Why?

*Our in-studio shoot with other Vox team members was done before the Covid-19 outbreak. We are currently safely working from home.*

If you work with (or have) kids under 7, you might notice that a handful of them flip letters, or sometimes entire words, when writing. It’s a little creepy to look at — and reminiscent of Danny from The Shining – but it’s entirely normal.

Our minds are exceptionally good at saving space when necessary. Sitting in a classroom, you probably won’t notice the consistent buzz of a heater unless you focus on it. Our eyes do something similar when it comes to orientation. This is because in the natural world, the direction something is facing doesn't really matter all that much. This allows us to identify and recognize objects quickly. It's a truly efficient way to think.

Except, when it comes to letters and numbers, where orientation *does* matter. In many ways, the written word is a completely unnatural system for our minds. The reverse of "b" turns it into a "d." Why is 3 left-facing when 5 and 6 are right-facing? It’s confusing because our minds don’t pay too much attention to orientation, and to get the alphabetic system right — we need to.

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💬 Comments on the video

Ah yes, teaching kids how to spell “debt”

Author — Corgwyn theCorgi


I wrote my name as “Emi¡ly” because I somehow knew that the upside down exclamation mark existed, but I thought it was the same thing as an i but cooler so I wrote it next to every i.

Author — Elmer the brit


Everybody: "Toys я Us, Koяn"
Russians who speak English: "Toys Ya Us, Koyan"

Author — The Russified Asian


I can't believe so many other people did this as kids. My teacher's were convinced I was dyslexic, than doctor's just said it was because I was left handed and this lead to my teacher not wanting to teach me. I was so traumatized and now I learn basically everyone did it. 😂😂😭😭

Author — Kayley Schurman


When I was 6 years old and learning English, I could not distinguish "b" and "d" for my life. The word "bed" helped me, though. I also was convinced that a minute had 59 seconds, because on a timer going backwards it goes "10:02", "10:01", "10:00", "09:59"..

Author — Tᴀᴇᴜɴᴀ Æᴏʟʏɴ


It’s harder when you speak two languages and one of them is left to right and the other is right to left

Author — jimmy johnny


Me who's dyslexic and still does this: 👁👄👁

Author — Ninja Tell Tales


I remember one time in kindergarten we had a math test and I got all the questions right, just on one of them I wrote the “5” backwards and even though you could tell it was a 5, and all the questions were right, my teacher gave me a low score lol.

Author — brodioturtle


would be kind of fun to see how kids do this in other languages like Chinese, Hindi, Korean or something like that

Author — Delfin


Whenever I read cartoons I have to ask myself: is this american or japanese😅 right or left

Author — Pamea


I'm mildly dyslexic and I had a lot of problems in school with writing. But when I learned to type, it was a great release, since I didn't have to form each letter.

Even today, when I look in the rear view mirror, I don't think Right or Left, but rather driver's side or passenger's side.

In grade school I developed a pattern. I would hold my hands a certain way and say: This is the hand that holds the paper; this is my left hand. This is the hand that holds the pencil; this is my right hand. Eventually I could simply think about having done that and remember it.

Author — Ross Parlette


I still mess up left and right because when I learned this, they taught us that "right is the side of the hand you use to write" me, a left handed kid: aight

Author — Barto Barros


So should I scream when my friend walks to the left?

Author — Polarbear Frost S


Does anyone else have to look up what a letter looks like sometimes

Author — Acorn Swirl


Vox: usually children up to 7 do this.

Me: not relatable.

Author — Milagros Gabriela Vargas


I noticed she's a leftie. I am too and I, too, wrote backwards sometimes as a kid. Does being left-handed has anything to do with it?
This is super interesting.

Author — Dani


“Kids under 7 has done it at some point”

Lol I couldn’t even write back then

Author — Shinta Kikuchi


which is no wonder why kids back then really dig KoЯn

Author — Al R


I've never seen or even heard of kids doing this in my life

Author — Mr.Person


When I was younger I only wrote and I mean EVERY single letter backwords

Author — Yoongi's UwU