Every year there seems to be a speech area that rises above all the others. This year I am hearing a lot about students who do not follow directions. There can actually be a lot of reasons for this to include being distracted by the environment, sensory issues around space and movement, not understanding the directions, not understanding the rules of turn taking (speaking vs listening) and difficulty with short term memory. Of course some students have all of these things in different degrees working together to get them off track. If one student is having difficulty they can disrupt the learning environment for any of the other students causing a chain reaction. It is no wonder that our teachers find this a concern.
Classroom management and warm up activities can go a long way in helping students get prepared to focus or get them back on track. I have included some resources you may find useful for therapy or to pass on to your teachers. Some of them are our tried an true therapy games, but maybe you haven’t thought of them in the framework of building memory or following directions.
This web site has good suggestions for teachers on classroom management to enhance the ability of students to follow directions. http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/2013/05/how-to-get-students-to-follow-directions.html
Body Jive is a CD that has warm up activities for movement and following directions. I have used it as a warm up activity before social groups. The site has some activity/song previews so you can get an idea of what they sound like.
“Simon Says” and “The Previous Command” are two traditional children’s games that do not need special materials and can be used at a moments notice.
Previous command instructions
There are the traditional card games such as “Go Fish and “Memory Game” that can build a number of skills depending what is on the cards. Some children need direct instruction on turn taking and paying attention to the cards drawn prior to their turn. They will choose or flip cards indiscriminately and not realize they need to remember cards.
Barrier games help build directional vocabulary and concepts. Not understanding the prepositions in directions often add to the confusion of our language delayed students. Be aware that some students have difficulty with words such as before, after, while, any, neither, either, during, not and none. Try to give directions in several ways so the students get the meanings. For example; “Take any color means you take only one”
Goofy Follows Directions; part of an educational film made by Disney. It illustrates the importance of following directions.
In honor of Thanksgiving, I put The Never Ever Dinner Plate activity on sale on TPT. I use this activity this time of year because it fits in the themes of “Food” and “Dinner”. It also teaches the concept of “Not”. A direction with “not” can sometimes trigger the student to do the opposite of what you want because they don’t hear or understand the “Not” part.