shilpi asks: My daughter is four and half years old, and she is in nursery school. She always writes some of the alphabet letters as their mirror image like S and N, and she also wears her shoes on the wrong feet. Otherwise she is very intelligent and has very good grasping power. Please advise: Is this normal and what does it reflect?
Hi shilpi –
This is a great question. Thanks so much for it!
There are humans who know a great deal more about the development of the brain than this puppy ever will. But one thing I can tell you is that brain development is a very winding and bumpy road. Children will seem to have mastered a complete sort of awareness, and then show an equally complete confusion about something that we see as extremely simple. What makes this especially difficult is that different children develop different skills at different speeds. For example, my friend Handsome taught himself to read at age three, but had a terribly difficult time mastering the seemingly-easier tasks of reading a clock and tying his shoelaces. It doesn’t mean he was dumb, or that the other kids who were tying complex knots and reading 3-D maps when he was struggling, but didn’t start reading books till they were nine, were dumb either.
The two problems your daughter is having are very common ones, even for kids a bit older than her. Children often don’t get their letters facing the right way till second or even third grade. And with the shoes, hey if they didn’t hurt, I’ll bet half the adults we know would occasionally get them wrong too! (Children’s feet aren’t shaped so triangularly yet, so the shoes often almost fit either way!)
If you’re interested in learning more about the fascinating ways children’s views and understandings grow, I really love the works of the great scientist Jean Piaget (1896-1980). He studied a lot about this, and found all sort of patterns and stages in children, grasping and explaining the reason young kids will think that two glasses of different shapes hold different amounts of fluid, even though they’ve just seen one fill the other, or say things like, “Shirelle is the bestest dog in the whole world!” One of my very favorite compliments ever!
But in the meantime, I definitely wouldn’t worry about your daughter. If she shows other problems with an inability to see objects the right way, you might have her tested for dyslexia (a very common problem her regular doctor could either test her for or refer her to someone who can). But for now, I’d just enjoy the cute and magical world she’s showing you.