My wife is quite smart and keeps handy a number of small games and diversions for the kids to entertain them when we have to wait somewhere – i.e., at a restaurant.
One of these games is called Story Cubes – a set of picture dice that you roll then take turns assembling into tall tales. Our 10 year olds are very imaginative and silly, but play this game in much the same way as you would expect any English speaking adult to play, lining up the dice from left to right as they add to the story.
Our four year old has not yet been subjected to the rigorous structure of written language and it was incredible fun to watch him play this game the other night. Here is one of his stories:
From memory, this story read, “The alien chased the ghost and the smiley face locked them up with the key for a long time in the jail.”
Compare that to the picture and see if it makes sense to you. Now try again reading from right to left. That’s better.
Our four year old is left handed (so am I). I have no idea if that’s related to why he tends to do things right to left, but my amateur theorizing suggests there is a correlation.
There are interesting things to think about in how he identified some of the icons (we see an abacus, he sees a jail – we see a clock, he sees “time”), but the part that fascinated me, is the way he placed the cube representing the prepositional phrase “with the key” out of the linear order. This was very natural to him and it makes total sense. The prepositional phrase modifies the “lock”.
If you ever find yourself locked into thinking about things in a linear fashion, spend some time around children. It will broaden your perspective.