Last week, we shared with you some strategies for teaching your child to share and take turns in our 5 Skills Essential for Kindergarten series. This week, we are talking about teaching our children to follow directions.

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 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!

 

We have a few games/activities on the blog that focus on following verbal directions that you can try. Try Find the Hero or Alien Hunt.

Visual Schedules
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 will be 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
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.

Here is a FREE set of task cards on following directions from Sweet Peas and Pigtails on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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 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!

Problem Solving Skills

Problem solving is next on the list. Click the button for tips on teaching this must-have skill!