Is it bad that my child writes numbers backwards?

Is it bad that my child writes numbers backwards?
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"And if it looks like this, then you're doing it right" Mambo #5 by Lou Bega

Today's newsletter is inspired by two subscribers that wrote in asking about number reversals. Thanks for submitting! 😊

"My child reverses numbers when they are writing. Sometimes it is a single digit, like writing the number 9 backwards so it looks like capital letter P. Other times they are reversing two digit numbers like writing 91 instead of 19. Is this a sign of a learning disability?"

Let me start with the big part first: Is this a sign of a learning disability?


When teachers are looking for signs of a learning disability, they are looking for multiple symptoms and patterns. So, if they are reversing numbers as well as taking a significant amount of time to grasp subject material despite extra support and interventions...then yes, it could be a sign of a learning disability.

But, are they learning generally at pace with the class and have a few skills they could improve at? Then no, this is not a reason to be concerned.

As for number reversals: Reversing numbers is appropriate through age seven- about the end of first grade. It will be even more prevalent for two digit numbers (91) since children in kindergarten are only expected to master writing numbers 0-20. Their kindergarten teacher may teach them to write higher numbers, but it is not going to be tested on.

The key here, is that if you point out a number reversal to your child, that they recognize it and correct it. We have to help children monitor this until they start to correct it themselves. Writing is hard, there's so much to take in, that children are bound to have a few mistakes. In time this will correct itself.

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