Fairfax Early Childhood Partnership's April 5-4-3-2-1 Early Childhood Tips for Today!

Supporting Children with Following Directions

5 Things to Know or Do 5 Things to Know or Do:

  1. State directions in a clear and precise manner. Be specific in what you want the children to do.  Tell the directions instead of asking for children to comply. Ex. “Please get your coat” instead of “Would you please get your coat?”
  2. Start with one step directions then move to two step directions. For children that are able, give three step directions. Ex. “Hang up your coat”, “Hang up your coat and backpack”, “Hang up your coat, backpack, and sign in.” You can also number multi-step directions by using phrases such as “There are 2 things I want your to do hang up your coat and backpack” or use words first, second, lastly.
  3. Use wait time and check for understanding. Once you have given directions give the child time to think and process the directions.  Check for understanding by having the child repeat the directions back or ask questions.  Repeat as needed and use picture cues if needed.
  4. State the directions in the positive of what you want the children to do. Ex. “Use your walking feet” instead of “Don’t run”
  5. Give children opportunities to practice listening. Play games such as Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, Freeze to allow children time to practice listening.  This develops working memory, which supports the building of executive function.

4 Children Read Alouds 4 Children Read Alouds

  1. [More detail about this title is available]Press Here by Herve` Tullet. (FCPS | Public Library)

    Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions. Each page of this book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and follow the journey!

  2.  [Cover] Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle. (FCPS | Public Library)

    Jack who lives on a farm. wakes up one morning and wants pancakes.  He will have to make the pancakes from scratch.  He has go out on the farm and get all the items to make his pancakes.  Great book for teaching children to follow directions and a recipe!

  3. [Cover]  Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley. (FCPS | Public Library)

    Have your preschoolers join along in this fun filled book by having them follow what the characters are doing!  A fun way for children to develop listen and following direction skills.

  4. [Cover]  The Worst Day of My Life EVER!  by Julia Cook. (FCPS | Public Library) RJ has a bad day because he has not been paying attention to the directions he has been given. Once he starts following directions he has the best day ever.


3 Links to Visit 3 Links to Visit

  1. National Association for the Education of Young Children: Help Your Preschooler Gain Self-Control
  2. Child Mind Institute: How to Give Kids Effective Instruction
  3. Scholastic: Ages and Stages: Learning to Follow Directions

2 Points to Access Research 2 Videos to View

  1. Helping Kids Follow Directions
  2. Managing the Classroom: Schedules and Routines

1 Video to View 1 Point to Access Research

  1. The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning: 

    Teaching Your Child to Cooperate With Requests (PDF)