Life in Kindergarten — Attention And Following Directions

Introduction

The series of posts I’m doing on this subject matter are expanded from an article I found called 10 Kindergarten Readiness Skills Your Child Needs from 2013.  Despite the article being older, the areas it covers are still basic areas of study and behavior that should be paid attention to.

My Credentials (reprinted from my original post):

Let me state up front that I am not a kindergarten teacher nor any other grade teacher.  I have a BA in English from Sonoma State University in California and started my teaching credential years ago before my career path took me away from school and into the working world.

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My expertise on the subject of kindergarten (and the other lower grades) comes from over four years of volunteering in a kindergarten class at my kids school.  I also have seen the end result of kindergarten by volunteering in a first grade class for almost three years before COVID shut down in person schooling in our area.

I wasn’t the typical volunteer.  As soon as my children started school, I was in the classroom five days a week splitting between kindergarten and the upper grades as needed.  I’ve been put in charge of tech education for kindergarten and have run multi levels of reading groups in first grade.  I also worked on reading fluency with emerging readers and became known as the parent to rely on when given an educational task to accomplish in the classroom.

The two teachers I worked with most were seasoned professionals.  My mentors were wonderful women who made teaching their life.

  • The kindergarten teacher was one of the original teachers at our school which was founded in 1995.  She transferred over from another school and while kindergarten is her niche, she also had taught grades higher up into elementary school.
  • The first grade teacher I worked with had been teaching longer than I’ve been alive.  She knew what kids needed to have in first grade and was great at evaluating how successful a kindergarten year was for a kid within the first few weeks of school in her class.

I might not be considered an expert because I don’t have a degree.  I do believe my time in the classroom as well as being a mother myself helps me give a balanced view of things that will help your child succeed in kindergarten.

Area 9: Attention and Following Directions

As your little one steps into the world of kindergarten, they’re embarking on a journey of learning, discovery, and growth. Two crucial skills that will serve as their compass through this adventure are attention and following directions. These skills form the bedrock of academic and social development. In this blog post, we’ll explore effective strategies to help your child sharpen their focus and become adept at following instructions.

1. Establish a Consistent Routine

Routines provide structure and predictability, helping children feel secure and focused. Create a daily schedule that includes designated times for play, learning, meals, and rest. Consistency fosters a sense of routine, making it easier for your child to transition between activities.

2. Engage in Active Listening Activities

Practice active listening through games and activities. Play “Simon Says,” where your child must follow instructions only if preceded by the phrase “Simon says.” This hones their listening skills and encourages them to pay close attention.

3. Use Visual Aids and Visual Schedules

Visual aids are powerful tools for reinforcing verbal instructions. Create visual schedules using pictures or simple drawings to outline daily activities. This helps your child understand what’s expected and promotes independence in following routines.

4. Break Tasks Into Manageable Steps

Breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps prevents your child from feeling overwhelmed. For instance, instead of saying “clean up your toys,” break it down into smaller instructions like “put the Legos in the blue bin” and “place the dolls on the shelf.”

5. Incorporate Movement Breaks

Physical activity helps release excess energy and improves focus. Incorporate short movement breaks into your child’s routine. This could be a quick dance session, a game of Simon Says, or a short walk around the backyard.

6. Provide Clear and Concise Instructions

When giving directions, be clear, specific, and use simple language. Avoid overloading your child with information. For example, instead of saying “Clean your room,” you can say “Put the books on the shelf and place the clothes in the hamper.”

7. Offer Choices Within Boundaries

Allowing your child to make choices within defined limits empowers them and encourages decision-making skills. For instance, ask, “Would you like to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt today?” This fosters a sense of autonomy while still following directions.

8. Use Multisensory Learning

Engage multiple senses when teaching new concepts. Combine visual aids, verbal instructions, and hands-on activities. This approach reinforces learning and helps solidify their understanding of directions.

9. Encourage Self-Monitoring

Teach your child to assess their own progress in tasks. Encourage them to ask themselves questions like “Did I do everything I was supposed to?” This promotes self-awareness and accountability.

10. Celebrate Achievements

Acknowledge and celebrate your child’s efforts in following directions. Praise their accomplishments, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement boosts confidence and encourages a willingness to listen and follow instructions.

Remember, these skills are developed over time, so be patient and offer gentle guidance. With your support and these strategies in place, your kindergartener will thrive in their new environment, ready to embrace each day with confidence and focus.

Here’s to a successful and enriching kindergarten journey for your little one!


RESOURCES:

Find more great kindergarten educational videos on my YouTube playlist: Kindergarten Skills Videos


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