Child Speech Therapy: Following Directions

“Wash your hands.” 

“Put your shoes on.”

“No yelling in the house.” 

These may sound like common phrases in your household. Such commands require children to interpret the meaning and follow the verbal directions accurately, which may present as a challenge for some children.  Following directions is a skill required in school, at home, and during everyday activities. Below, we’ve listed some milestones in relation to age when it comes to developing the skills for following directions.

Developmental Milestones:

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Tips to improve comprehension of directions: 

·     Simplify directions: Adults use complex language when giving directions such as, “Will you please get my shoes when you’re over there?” or “After you take out the trash, will you get the mail?” For children developing language skills, directions can be challenging to comprehend when using words such as beforeafterinsteadnext, andthen. Keep directions short and sweet when your child is young such as “get your shoes” and “open the door”

·     Visuals: Take pictures of common directions to use as a visual prompt. Determine the most frequent directions you give your child throughout the day. Take pictures of your child completing the tasks (such as putting on clothing, getting in the car, washing hands). Print the pictures and either hold them up when you give the directions or hang the pictures in the designated areas

·     First, then: When introducing 2-step directions, use word directions with first-then language. For example, “first put on socks, then shoes” or “first get your backpack, then go to the car”

·     First, then, last: When your child is ready for 3-step directions, use the phrase “first, then, last”. Your child will most likely catch on quickly since they are already familiar with the first two steps

 

Next week on the blog, we will provide fun games and activities to practice following directions! 

 

LUMIERE CHILDREN'S THERAPY🖐️

 

References: 

“How To Get A Child Following Directions.” Speech And Language Kids, 18 Apr. 2017, www.speechandlanguagekids.com/how-to-get-your-child-to-follow-directions/.

Katie. “Five Playful Ways to Work on Listening and Following Directions.” Playing With Words 365, 19 Feb. 2018, www.playingwithwords365.com/five-playful-ways-to-work-on-listening-skills/.

Klarowska, Beata. “Speech and Language Development (Milestones).” Virtual Speech Center, Virtual Speech Center, Inc, 25 July 2011, www.virtualspeechcenter.com/blog/37/speech-and-language-development-milestones.