* This post was written by Stacy Hurst.
Lowercase letters b and d look a lot alike so it's no wonder that many beginning readers get confused when they see them. Letter reversals are common in early readers. To help your child learn how to accurately recognize each of these similar looking letters, we've compiled 3 tricks to help correct that b/d letter reversal.
Focus on one letter at a time.
In fact, always over-teach one letter before introducing a letter that is similar. Pay particular attention to letter formation and constantly emphasize the proper way to form each letter EVERY time. For example, the lowercase letter b ALWAYS starts with a line. The lowercase letter d ALWAYS starts with a circle. It is common for children to draw the line first and then think about where to draw the circle.
Here is a FUN activity that helps clear up some of the confusion. You will need one bar from a Twix © candy bar and a mini-sized chocolate donut. Have your child draw the letter and say, “b, /b/” as they are writing the b or “d, /d/" as they are writing the d. It is also helpful to point out that when we read, we read from left to right. In doing so, when you come to a letter that could be a b or a d, the student could look to see what comes first -- the bar or the donut -- to help give them a visual clue as to what the letter is.
Teach the mouth formation for each letter sound.
For example, when you say the sound the letter b represents (/b/), your lips are together (in a line like you see at the beginning of the letter b). When you say the sound of letter d (/d/), your lips are open and your tongue is on the roof of your mouth. Use a mirror so your child can see his/her own adorable face forming the correct sounds associated with each letter.
Use multi-sensory activities.
Some beginning readers and writers struggle with the fine motor skills necessary to form letters correctly. Begin by focusing on the proper formation of each letter by first using large motor skills. Activities such as drawing a large version of each letter on a chalkboard or whiteboard, forming the letters in finger paint (pudding is fun too) or shaving cream, and forming letters on a sibling's back and having them guess the letter, are fun and simple ways to practice. ALWAYS have your child say the sound of each letter as they are forming it.
For more ideas on strengthening literacy skills in your child, visit our Literacy Learning Center.