Friday, February 25, 2011

Follow Directions - Please!

Help children learn to follow directions - having this skill aids in comfort and success in many different situations, including school. :)  We take it for granted, but sometimes they need a little help!

One-part directions ("Pick up that block, please") come first - AND make sure to model good manners at the same time! When the child is ready, introduce two-part ("Pick up the ball, then throw it to me, please") and then three-part directions to challenge them and keep them moving forward. Incorporating good manners, such as "please" and "thank you" into your daily give-and-take with children reinforces the use of these phrases - showing does SO much more than telling!

We know that using more than one of our senses helps us learn - sometimes a song helps, sometimes specific actions. Since children (and the rest of us!) can usually benefit from visual cues to stay on task, try using small cards with pictures on them for younger learners and words on them for the older ones. Along with giving directions verbally, display the pictures in the order to be done!

When the child is learning three-part directions, display three cards, showing a crayon, scissors and a glue stick, placed in order, to help them stay on task. "Color the picture, cut it out and glue it on the paper." First, children will use them to begin work and later, as a check for completing work. This type of system also may be used as needed in other situations, where difficulties in organizational areas are noted.

This would work with other tasks, too! To encourage self-esteem, motivation and self-reliance, work this into your daily routine. Whether it is for homework, daily scheduling or special jobs, make up cards and attach a magnetic strip on the back. Whatever the level of the "job", these cards can help your child stay on task, as well as keep you from having to repeat directions over and over.

Try it with tasks around the house - find pictures (or use pictures of your child) brushing teeth, picking up toys, reading a story, eating a snack, getting ready for bed, etc.  Then, use a magnetic surface (perhaps your refrigerator?) and set up your magnetic cards in the order of your child's routine. As each task is accomplished, your child can move the magnet to another spot or take it off and put it in a basket - whatever system works best for you!

Pretty soon, your child will have the routine down!

You can use a checklist idea to help your child learn in other formats, too. When you are getting ready to run some errands, make a paper list with your child of the places you have to visit. Arrange them in a numbered order and give your child the job of checking them off as you visit each place. Bank, Library, School, etc. - this will help your child look for beginning letters and to attach sounds to those letters, with your guidance ("Which word is Bank? ... it starts like /b/...").

This "game" also starts them on some organizing skills that will serve them well! Simple grocery lists work well, too! Having your child participate in daily outings and errands will keep them engaged and encourage conversations - with new opportunities for learning all around town!

No comments:

Post a Comment