Q&A: Is It Normal for a 4 Year Old to Hold His Book Upside Down?

CME WebsitesChild Development, Pre-Schoolers 36 - 60 Months

blockquote_bgIs it normal for a boy 4 years and 7 months to hold his book upside down? He also tries to write his name, but from the right hand side to the left.

Since your child is under age 5, he is still young and learning very early reading and writing skills. But, most children do learn left from right between the ages of 3-5. Most children will hold a book correctly and right it if it is upside down by age 2 (a picture book that is). If your son is holding books upside down and they have no pictures on the page, he may not know since he is only starting to learn letters. If he is right handed, focus on learning “right” first and refer to his left hand as his “other hand” so as not to confuse him. Once he has solidly learned the concept of right, then begin to work on left. If he is left handed, start with left and when he has mastered left, then work on right. To avoid confusion, don’t try to teach left and right at exactly the same time. You can practice during dressing (put on your left sock and shoe first) or during setting the table (put the fork on the left side of the plate).

You may also want to have his vision checked by a pediatric ophthalmologist if you haven’t done so already, to rule out that vision or perceptual skills are having an impact. When practicing letter writing with him, always place a big red dot on the left side of the page so he knows where to start, if he does not know the difference between left and right yet.

You can use games and songs to teach left and right, like the Hokey Pokey, this website talks about using the song and gives some other lyrics which apply to reading.

You may also wish to have your son evaluated by a pediatric occupational therapist to be sure there are no fine motor concerns. Sometimes children with these concerns that last into the early school years may be diagnosed with dyslexia but not all. Sometimes just plenty of practice with remedy the situation.