Last week we shared with you the 5 Skills Essential for Kindergarten and we told you that we would share strategies to help you teach your child these skills. Well, we are making good on our word and here is your first installment.
We’ve all had days where we felt like our child did not follow a single direction we gave them. On those days we feel like we are losing control and life is utter chaos. Now imagine that day but multiply your child by 12 more… Terrifying right?
Your child’s teacher is going to be the adult in charge of your child for 6+ hours a day and he or she is not just responsible for your child but also 12-24 other children. Because of this, your child NEEDS to be able to follow directions given by you and other trusted adults.
Being able to follow directions will lead to:
- a positive classroom environment with routines and procedures in place to keep the classroom running efficiently
- the teacher to giving each child appropriate instructional time
- the teacher focusing her energy on helping her students (including your child) grow, rather than spending all her energy on redirecting negative behaviors.
- your child’s safety. Many rules at school are in place to keep your child safe. When your child doesn’t follow direction, they are putting their safety and the safety of other Lil’s at risk.
In order for your child to have a productive and safe day at school they need to be able to follow the directions that trusted adults give them. Here are five ideas to help you work with your child on this skill.
Enroll Them in Activities
If your child is good at following the directions you give them (and even if they are not), but struggles to listen to other adults I HIGHLY recommend you enroll them in some sort of activity WITHOUT you. There are so many different activities that you can get your child involved in: gymnastics, soccer, Sunday school, music, dance, art, rec center sports. The key is for you to not be in the class so that they have the opportunity to engage with another adult and learn how to follow directions when you are not around. The benefit of these activities is that they are typically fun and non-threatening which means your child will WANT to follow the directions that the teacher/coach is giving.
*Most activities require your child to be 3+ in order to enroll them in a class without parents so some of our Explorers may not be able to attend until they turn 3, but you can look into parent/child classes to enroll in.
Play Following Direction Games
Any time you can make practicing a skill a game, your chances for success will increase because your chances for engagement will increase! Games like Red Light, Green Light and Simon Says are perfect for this!
Check out Kathy Griffin’s Teaching Strategies for instructions on how to play Follow the Leader and incorporate Pete the Cat.
So often as parents we have a set schedule in our minds but we don’t share them with our children (even though we expect them to follow it). Providing a visual schedule will allow your child to be an active participant in following the schedule.
Also a visual schedule works great because it gives kids the opportunity to mentally prepare for their day. They are more likely to be okay with doing a learning activity if they can see on their schedule that they get to have free play time after.
You can even include your child in creating the schedule; for instance if you have 3 activities in your morning routine that could be done in any order, let your child pick the order. Including your child in creating the schedule gives them some buy in and they are more likely to follow it.
Our friends over at Natural Beach Living have an awesome (and FREE) set of visual schedule cards that you can use. I have already downloaded them and I am getting ready to use them with Rea!
Task Cards are just what they sound like: little cards that contain a simple task for your child to complete. They are great tools because they allow you to break up directions and your child can focus on one small task at a time.
Follow a Recipe
There are many benefits to cooking with your child, but one that we rarely think about is that they learn to follow directions. In order for your recipe to be a success you have to follow the directions. This gives your Lil’ the opportunity to practice following directions AND they get to see a real world scenario when this skill is necessary.
I have added a few visual recipes HERE and I found this awesome visual recipe on Teachers Pay Teachers written by I Convey with Sue and Denise. It is a free download and I love it because it is a visual recipe which means your pre-reading child can still follow along!
There are plenty of fun ways to teach your child how to follow directions. Remember it is important that they know how to follow directions that are given to them both by you AND other trusted adults. Try out some of these ideas and we know your child will become a better listener, and really who doesn’t benefit from that?