Is your child experiencing a few challenges when given directions to follow? Even one-step directions?
Following Directions can be challenging for any person, young and/or old, for a number of reasons:
- not paying attention
- thinking about other things
- inability to focus
- inability to concentrate
- too difficult
- too many steps
- not understanding the words
- doesn’t want to
If your youngster is having difficulties – for whatever reasons – in the Following Directions department, and repetition, even with modeling is , not showing success, I have a working solution that just may bring you the desired results.
You can teach your child how to meet the following directions challenge by using one, some or all of the following strategies.
I combined my classroom experiences with Carrie Clark’s 6-step strategy. Ms. Clark is a speech pathologist with a very informative website: speechandlanguagekids.
Helpful FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS Strategies
STEP 1 : Listing the Directions
- When does your child have difficulty following directions?
- Is it a daily and/or weekly occurrence?
- What words do you use to cue a direction to be followed?
- Make a list of these words, such as: “put”, “bring”, “walk”, “stand up”, “stay here”, “stop”, “go”, “hold my hand”.
STEP 2 : Picturing the Directions
- Select 10-15 of the directions your child frequently struggles with following. You can add more later as needed.
- Make a word document listing the directions in simple sentences & print.
- You will need to create a visual cue for each direction.
- Take pictures of the direction (s) being followed by your child, other people and/or google the image.
- Glue the picture onto a card, leaving space for the direction text.
- When ready to put words & images together, ask your child to help.
- S/he can tell you what direction is being followed in the picture.
- Write the direction under each visual image or cut out & paste from your word document onto the image.
STEP 3 : Teaching the Directions
- Decide on a few – to begin – directions you want your child to learn.
- Spread out those finished Direction cards on a flat surface.
- Make a game of it.
- Take turns with your child. S/he will enjoy giving as well as getting the directions.
- Model manners & appreciation.
- You can use toys to help with the “following” of the directions.
- This will reinforce the understanding element of the activity.
STEP 4 : Working the Directions
- Is your child ready to start using the directions you’ve taught?
- Are those directions part of the daily routine?
- Do you need an opportunity to “test”?
- Make sure you have the Direction picture card in hand BEFORE giving the direction.
- Give the direction & show him/her the picture card.
STEP 5 : Tossing the Picture Cue
- How long will you continue to use the Direction picture card ?
- Try giving the direction verbally without the picture card cue.
- Wait for a moment to see if your child follows the direction.
- Use a physical gesture to help point him/her in the right direction.
- Physical gesture suggestions: stand close, point, lay hand on shoulder, tip head in the direction, etc
- Still not working?
- Pull out several Direction picture cards.
- Ask your child to pick out the Direction card s/he needs to follow.
STEP 6 : Teaching Multi-Step Directions
- Pair the cards together.
- Ask your child which direction would make sense to follow first.
- Why ? Think cause & effect- it’s a critical thinking skill.
- Follow the same sequence listed in the first 5 steps.
Following Directions as a Learning Skill
Having some fun might put this seemingly monotonous task on the fast track to success. It is a VERY important lesson to be learned, especially for young children.
Did you know you are teaching your child Literacy skills necessary for understanding: Sequence, Cause & Effect, Problem & Solution, Details ?
Following Directions is a critical life Life Skill to be learned & mastered.
It will, also, make your child’s Life at School go more smoothly, especially during the early years. The bombardment of directions can be mind-boggling!
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