Speech Pathology News: Following Instructions

Being able to follow instructions is important for everyday life. Children need to be able to follow the instructions of the teacher in the classroom, parents at homes and even during activities with their friends and the wider community.

Following instructions requires a sound knowledge of basic concepts and the ability to process and retain auditory information.

At Fremantle LDC we support children to develop their understanding of:

  • Location Concepts – For example; Point to the star in the top row. Circle the bee that is next to the flower. Colour the boy that is behind the sandcastle. Other location concepts include – bottom, in front, between, above, below, furthest from, closest to, right, left.
  • Sequence Concepts – For example; Put a cross on the boat at the beginning of the line. Circle the last biscuit. Other sequence concepts include middle, first, second, third.
  • Inclusion and Exclusion Concepts –   For example; Circle all the cats except the black one. Point to all but one of the apples. Circle the picture that is neither an animal nor a plant. Other inclusion and exclusion concepts include – all in one row, either/or.
  • Time Concepts – For example; Colour the bird before you colour the lion. After you point to the ladybird, point to the butterfly.
  • Conditional Concepts – For example; If the doll is in the box put the box on the truck.
  • Instructions with Negatives – For example; Circle the squares but not the red ones.

We support students to understand the concepts through explicit teaching and modelling of the concept followed by many opportunities to practice. At home, you can reinforce these concepts through simple instruction following games such as a modified version of Simon Says. In this game Simon always says what needs to be done, but the instruction includes a concepts your child is learning. For example “Simon says touch your head before you touch your toes.”  If your child follows through praise them and give another instruction. If not, do it and let them copy you as you do the actions. Have five turns and then swap roles. Begin with simple concepts your child knows before introducing less familiar ones. Location and Sequence Concepts can be a good place to start.