Following Instructions

How to give good instructions

  •  Give instructions only when you have your child’s attention. Use your child’s name and encourage your child to look at you while you speak.
  • Use language that your child understands. Keep your sentences short and simple.
  • Use a clear, calm voice.
  • Explain exactly what you want your child to do by breaking the task into smaller steps. For example, don’t say, ‘Get ready for school’. Instead say, ‘Clean your teeth, and then get dressed for school’.
  • Make sure your child understands each step before you give the next one. If your child has a learning disability, you might need to let your child learn each step before teaching the next one.
  • Use gestures to point to things that you want your child to notice.
  • Use feedback. Praise your child when she follows your instruction, and say exactly what she did right or well. But avoid giving lots of negative feedback when your child doesn’t get it right. Maybe just point out one or two things your child could do differently next time.

Encouraging independence
If you want to help your child learn to do tasks independently, you can phase out your instructions and reminders.

Another option is to use a poster or illustration to help your child picture the instructions you’re giving. Your child can check the poster by himself as he works through the instructions.

A poster can also help children who have trouble understanding words.

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