Children hear several instructions every day, such as:
Hence, it is important for all children, even with limited language skills, to understand at least some basic instructions they would hear every day. This lesson will focus on how to teach instructions as part of the everyday routines a child already has.
It is important for a child to have the foundational skill of imitation, as imitation forms the foundation of much learning. Imitation is how we learn to speak, learn to brush our teeth or even learn to drive a car as an adult.
In order for a child to learn everyday instructions, they need to be able to imitate or copy it from watching an adult or video. It can be difficult for a child to understand what words like ‘point’ or ‘wave’ mean unless an adult shows them first.
This does not mean a child must be fluent at imitation, as long as they have some skill in it.
There are many types of imitation, with some actions being easier to learn than others:
For a child who is still developing their imitation skills, it is still possible to teach instructions with the imitation skills they already have.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of common instructions a child might hear everyday at home:
Some instructions are easier to learn because they come with a cue. For example, when an adult raises their palm this indicates “High five!”
Materials for teaching instructions will vary depending on the instruction, but it is generally recommended to have:
The instruction to be taught needs to be targeted at natural points of the day. Here are a few examples:
The more intentional an adult is to set up opportunities for practice, the faster the child will learn.
Feel free to download this Daily Schedule for Natural Instructions as a guide for when to target instructions throughout the day.
1. Select two or three everyday instructions from the below list your child does not know yet, that you would like to teach.
Feel free to change up the words according to how your family says it too.
2. Decide together with your partner which parts of the day would be best to target these instructions. Try to get between 3 to 5 practices a day if you can. The more practice, the better!