A Synoptic and Theoretical Account of Character (Digits and Capital Letters) Reversal in Writings by Typically Developing Children

Abstract : Reversing characters (digits and letters) when writing, and complete mirror writing, raise one of the oldest and most mysterious questions in developmental and educational psychology: Why do five-year-old children write symbols (e.g., ∃ for E) they have neither learnt nor seen? Attempts to draw up a complete explanatory theory of character reversal in writings by typically developing children were long hindered by the existence of a seemingly satisfactory explanation (left-hand writing), the failure to bring together research in neuropsychology and educational psychology, and the failure to consider the shape and structure of the characters. The present paper remedies this situation by describing a new, comprehensive theory based on recent neuropsychological findings and extensive empirical observations. The theory assumes that a character's orientation, detected in the early visual processing area, is deleted (or made inaccessible) by the mirror generalization process during transfer to memory. Consequently, there is a period, usually around age five, during which children have representations of the characters' shapes but not their orientations. Hence, when asked to write a character, children have to improvise its orientation, and the orientation they choose (implicitly, non-consciously) is often derived from the writing direction in their culture.
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Jean-Paul Fischer, Christophe Luxembourger. A Synoptic and Theoretical Account of Character (Digits and Capital Letters) Reversal in Writings by Typically Developing Children. Education Sciences and Psychology, Georgian Technical University, 2018, 8 (3), pp.137. ⟨10.3390/educsci8030137⟩. ⟨hal-02070470⟩

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