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Of course we all want our kids to be able to follow directions, but did you realize that this is a skill that can and should actually be practiced? Being able to follow basic commands and then execute them are essential building blocks in the mind of your preschooler.
There are several ways this can be done. For today’s purposes, we will focus on a few that increase in difficulty.
Following a string of basic commands. This can be anything you like, and the number of commands you give depends on the age and ability of your child’s level.
- For instance, you could say, “Put the blanket from the couch on the floor, then put the pillow on the blanket.” This is pretty basic.
- For something a bit more difficult you could say, “Put your car up on your bed, brush your teeth, put your dirty laundry away, and then when you get back I want you to bring me three books.
- Continue on with these types of things, stringing together whatever number will challenge your child but that he can still complete.
Following commands that also build thinking, reasoning, and counting skills. For instance here are some great things to get you started:
- Hop on one foot six times
- Turn in a circle three times
- Clap your hands nine times
- Jump up four times
- Take ten steps in place
- Stomp your feet seven times
- Stick out your tongue five times
- Moo like a cow eight times
- Bark like a dog two times
- March around the room four times
These things take concentration, especially when they have to march around the room. This requires they form a pathway in their mind that somehow keeps track of how many they have done over a longer period of time than it takes to just hop in place.
Taking this concept to a more difficult level is the traditional Simon Says game. Even my older kids still get involved in this one when they have been stuck inside for way too long over the winter.
Do you remember how to play Simon Says?
- The players are to follow your command as long as the command is preceded by you saying, “Simon says…” If they respond to your command without having been told by Simon to do so, they will be out for the rest of the game. This builds excellent listening skills because they really need to be listening and comprehending well in order to do it right.
For something a bit quieter, you can give commands for your child to follow while drawing. This will also build their creativity and fine motor skills in addition to their listening and following directions skills.
- For instance you might say, “Draw three circles and two squares.” You could also say, “Draw three circles: one red, one blue, and one green. Require your child to listen well the first time and then don’t repeat yourself. Again, you can string along as many coloring commands as your child can manage.
Having fun while building your child’s listening skills is something you will be so thankful you did. It is amazing as your kids get older when you need them to really listen and to be able to follow directions with multiple steps. Preschoolers have brains that are like sponges. Take advantage of this time to train them to be able to follow multi-step directions and to be able to listen, really listen, well.