How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, the saying goes.
Following multiple directions is difficult for some children. If you are a primary teacher who had previously been teaching older grades, you have probably noticed this. Here are a few steps to help the situation. Parents, these ideas will help you around home, too.
1. Make note of those children who have a challenge remembering multiple directions. They are probably the very same ones who are much stronger visual learners, than auditory.
2. Think how you can break tasks down into smaller steps. Begin with 2-step directions. When the child can pretty consistently accomplish these, add a third step.
3. Have the class (or child) say the steps for completing a task. However, don't embarrass a child or the anxiety will increase the problem.
4. Be sure you have their full attention when giving the directions. While giving the directions, you may need to stand beside the one who has greatest difficulty recalling steps.
When giving directions for classwork, teach your students some "tricks" to help them remember what to do on each job. Circle the page number of each workbook page that is to be done. Mark key words in the directions. When we are reading directions together, it goes something like this:
"Circle the ...STOP. Circle circle." Then we'll go back and read the complete sentence of directions once they've marked it. My second graders think it's funny, but it serves to help them remember to do it when reading directions on their own as the year progresses.
Time spent training your children well from the beginning of the year is time you won't have to spend fighting the same battle the whole school year. This is true not only with following multiple directions, but with procedures and discipline as well.