Do you remember pretending to write when you were a young child? You probably scribbled from left to right and top to bottom without even realizing it! That’s because you were learning to recognize the direction of print in your written language. Children in other countries, like China or Jordan, would pretend to write in other directions.
At some point, we learn that English is always written from left to right and top to bottom. These simple rules about directionality of print are part of early literacy development. It’s something children learn before they can read and is one of the components of print awareness. In fact, some pediatricians use books to gauge toddler brain development – they hand a child a book that is upside down to see whether the child knows to turn it right side up and can track words from left to right.
Whenever we read or write with children, they are observing the rules of how our language is written and spoken. The more they see and absorb before beginning school, the easier their transition to being a successful reader and writer.