This is a piece of attention span and impulse control that overlaps with the previous posts’ suggestions about listening, planning and organization. Sequencing is more about the follow through of listening and the organization of a plan. We practice this with Sequence Cards* where children are given pictures and asked to arrange them in a story that makes sense, and then tell their story. We also have them retell pictures books identifying the beginning middle and end as well as the order of smaller details if they are able. Our Crazy Directions game* and Robot game* both get at their ability to sequence. At home this may be ordering items (big, bigger, biggest blocks), talking through the beginning, middle and end of following a recipe, building a model, reading a book or playing a board game.
Sequence Cards* http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp;jsessionid=PGNhxm1v8Ch2TpnnyxrXX1Ls2ggLTmvgLyXvVhD5J1JF1LWMHGtf!-2074226025!-769277136?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C919%2C061&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1330023930245
Crazy Directions game* – Start with two steps then move on to three and four step directions. Make it fun. A three step direction might be, “find the dog, touch his nose and jump up and down. Ready, go!” If three is too many for them to manage, go back to two. If three is easy, move on to four.
Robot game* – Child is a robot, and you are the robot programer. You are giving step by step directions and they are following them, doing ONLY what you say to do. This can be a slow process, but they are practicing listening, following directions and going slowly through the process of an activity. For a younger child, it can be going over to pick up and return a book. For an older child, it can be making a PBandJ. It’s good to then change roles and have you be the robot.
Planning and reviewing skills are a piece of building attention span and impulse control. In some of our classes, each week the children have to plan their 15 minute play time. This includes choosing where they will play (only 1 center each day) and planning three activities to occupy their time. Teachers check on their progress throughout and help children to meet each goal. This is something you can easily incorporate at home.
At clean up time, sit for a minute and ask your child to plan the effort. This includes details such as the order of the tasks and if they will work together. Draw or write a check list and help them to stay on task. At the end a pat on the back for completing the list. A more fun example – ask your child to plan their next playdate. Invite a friend over for an hour and have child (or children) come up with three or four activities they’d like to do during that time. Help them manage the time and move through the activities.
It is also helpful to take a plan-do-review approach to outings or other activities. If you are headed to the pumpkin patch this weekend, take some time to look at pictures from last year or visit their website, print the map and plan your trip together with your child. Talk about all the things they are seeing and doing while their. After, call a grandparent and encourage your child to tell them details about the trip. Review again with your child when you print the pictures.
There are many ways to build listening skills. There are lots of good children’s books that introduce the idea and importance of listening. A few titles include Listen and Learn by Free Spirit Publishing, The Worst Day of My Life Ever by Julia Cook and the Amelia Bedelia books.
Many games practice listening skills including Telephone, 20 Questions, Robot, Eye Spy, Crazy Directions, Simon Says, Hullabaloo, Guess Who, Clue Jr. or Clue and Noodleboro’s Pizza Palace listening game. As children are older, there is Mystery Garden, Listening Lotto and Sound Bingo. Play games regularly.
We talk in classes about being a good listener by keeping our bodies still, our mouths quiet and our eyes on the speaker. You might check in with children after you speak or have given them directions by asking what you said, for the most important part or for what they should do first. When you ask them to give you words back about what you said, it’s better for it to be their own version rather than verbatim.
Challenge listening by reading slightly longer books with more words and fewer pictures as they grow. Challenge listening with verbal stories or books on tape. Occasionally, practice dialogic reading with your child. When they are younger it is asking questions about the pictures, such as “What is this?” As they are older, it is asking questions about the story such as, “what do you think will happen next?” or, “what was your favorite part?” The idea is to build open discussion around the reading as a habit to increase listening and comprehension.
Take Listening Walks, this is a trip around the neighborhood or on your favorite path with the idea of walking quietly and listening to all the sounds you can hear. Afterward list together all the sounds and talk about how different it is to really listen rather than talk and play.