Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Learning to follow directions

One of essential skills any preschooler needs to develop is the ability to follow directions. Parents have a critical role in teaching this skill to their children. One preschool teacher told me that all but one of their 70 preschool children has managed to learn to follow directions during the first four months of school. The one child, “Jake”, who refuses to follow directions causes a huge disruption to the rest of the class.

For example, one of the rules this school has is that all children must put on their jackets before they go out to play. The kids can take off their jackets and hang them up outside if they are too warm, however, they need to put them on before they go outside. Jake frequently refuses to put on his jacket. When the teachers discussed the issue with Jake’s parents, his dad replied that Jake doesn’t like wearing a jacket and they don’t make Jake do things he doesn’t want to do.

While it may be easier in the short run to not insist that Jake follow rules when he protests, in the long run Jake’s parents are stealing an important opportunity from him. If we don’t teach our kids to follow rules and directions at home, they will not have these essential skills when they are away from home at a friend’s house or school. Teaching our children to follow directions is a gift that will always be with them.
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