11 Days of Skills for Kids: Following a Multi-Step Instruction

11 Days of Skills for Kids: Following a Multi-Step Instruction

As we continue the 11-day journey through the “non-academic/learning to learn” skills all children need, detailing the skill of following a multi-step instruction, I just want to remind you that these shouldn’t be complicated. Don’t get overwhelmed, just do what you can. And – if you have questions, make sure to reach out! I’m ready and available to support you during this unexpected break from school!

Download this article as a PDF so you can read it later! Find it HERE.

Skill #9: Following a Multi-Step Instruction

Following a multi-step instruction is a skill that was made to be worked on in the home. Just think of all of the opportunities there are in a day to work on this skill. Just as there are so many opportunities to work on this skill at home, the majority of students’ school days are spent following multi-step instructions and from a very early age, teachers expect that students can do this independently. Many kids, for different reasons, struggle with this skill.

Whether a student has a hard time attending to all of the instructions given, or maybe takes longer to process the information or will only comply with part of the instructions, their skill deficit in this area can make all the difference in their classroom success.

The good news is that this is a skill that responds well to direct instruction and lots of practice. Generally, this skill looks the same (or similar) no matter where a child is or who is giving the instruction.  Generally following a multi-step instruction is defined as;

  1. Listening (or reading) all of the instructions that are given
  2. Wait for the instruction to begin
  3. Complete the instruction as instructed (that includes ALL the steps)
  4. And wait for any follow-up instruction

There may be different criteria included such as; follow the instruction without talking, raise your hand when you have finished, etc., but getting the basics down will go a long way for your child to be able to add in any “extras” a teacher may include. 

Hint for Teachers: If there is a way that you want parents to practice following multi-task instructions, let them know!

How to Practice Following a Multi-Step Instruction

  1. Playing games with multiple steps
  2. Setting the table
  3. Making the bed
  4. Making cookies
  5. Helping to make dinner
  6. Doing an art project
  7. Building with blocks/legos
  8. Getting dressed
  9. Doing virtual classwork
  10. Doing an obstacle course
  11. Check out these fun games you can play HERE!

Helpful hint: Try to NOT give a prompt (reminder) to your child during the multiple steps. Kids often get used to getting those hints and don’t use their “attention muscle” because they know someone will remind them. It is better for them to not do all the steps and then you can talk about it after! 

Reinforce the Skill of Following a Multi-Step Instruction

Setting up a simple reinforcement around this particular skill can be very simple.

Step 1: Define the behavior clearly. Make sure your child knows exactly what following multi-step instructions looks like to you. (Remember- you are focusing on following the steps more than how well they do the task.)

Step 2: Decide when you want to work on the skill. There is no right amount. Ultimately, your goal should be to make this time doable for you and your child. (This should not be worked on with every task you give them- just a few times a day!)

Step 3: Decide what kind of reinforcement you want to use and how often they receive it. For example, you may offer a sticker or some other kind of reward for following ALL the steps without ANY reminders. 

Step 4: Discuss what the plan is with your child and then stick to it. Consistency is key when it comes to reinforcing behavior! 

TIP: Figure out what you and your child can handle and don’t push past that. Even a little bit of time spent on these skills can bring big changes! Having your child choose the times they want to work on skills is very helpful. When they are part of the process, there will be more buy-in. 

Find More Resources

No matter what your goals are for this time, make sure to check out the other resources I offer for parents and teachers. Then, come back tomorrow and let’s talk about the next skill all children need to know!

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