We have received permission to provide telehealth / teletherapy to our existing clients.

Four top tips for b/d reversals

Share This Post

It is a common occurrence for learners to confuse the letters b and d while reading and writing from a young age. Some learners may even confuse p/d/p and q since they all have a similar shape but are presented at different angles. Even though most learners outgrow these confusions by the age of 10, some learners, especially those diagnosed with Dyslexia, may continue to struggle with this problem up until the end of primary school.

Teachers often try to help these learners by using mnemonic techniques such as making associations where b is for bed and d for dog (or using the common belly and tail comparison). Even though these strategies help most learners, some learners may still require more extensive support as discussed below.

Strategies to address b/d reversals:

1. Improve inner laterality awareness

The only difference between a b and a d is that for the b the circle is on the right-hand side of the line and for the d it is on the left. If learners continue to struggle with these kinds of reversals even after mnemonic techniques are introduced, the learner might have a laterality development backlog. Laterality refers to a learner’s inner awareness to distinguish between their left and right hemispheres.

Laterality will mostly be improved when learners participate in different sports and activity types where the terms “left” and “right” are often used and where cross-lateral movements are encouraged. Examples of these sports and activities are ballet, karate, gymnastics, and swimming. It will also benefit learners when they participate in motor-visual activities and games such as completing mazes, building structures with building blocks or Lego or puzzles.

2. Correct letter formation

It is very important to break the habit of a learner who is using the wrong letter formation, especially when forming b and d. It often occurs that learners start both the b and d by writing the line first. Then they often take time to think where to place the circle. To ensure that struggling learners are able to distinguish between the letters b and d more easily, the first movement is critical. For example, when writing the letter b, the vertical line should be written first before placing the circle. The opposite is true for the letter d, where the learner should begin with the circle and end with the vertical line. Continuous practice of this letter formation will help learners to kinesthetically remember the difference between b and d.

3. Use multisensory instruction

Most learners tend to remember things more accurately when using all their senses while learning and writing. While learning the difference between b and d, learners should always pronounce the word while writing it. Also important is to help the learner to notice the difference in the way their lips and mouths move when pronouncing b (lips are together and then open) while your lips are only open when pronouncing d. While the learner pronounces b or d, he or she should simultaneously write the letters on a sensory platform such as a sandbox, on big chalkboards, or using their fingers to write on a mat or on sandpaper. Another helpful sensory technique would be to build the b and the d with clay or use different building blocks to form the letters b and d. While using these techniques, remind the learner to build it in the same way they would write it. In this way, the learners do not only see the letters, but hear the letters, feel the letters, speak the letters and write the letters.

4. Focus on recognition

There are many ways to support learners in recognising letters more automatically. These ways include giving learners a paragraph and having them “hunt” for the letter b and d by highlighting it. You could also write different words containing b and d on the board and learners must read them out loud. Use words such as bed, bad, dab, pad. When using words that are mostly alike, it decreases the chances for learners to guess. Lastly, doing a letter or word sort or playing x’s and o’s that contain b and d can also be a fun way for learners to distinguish the two letters.

More To Explore