A Guide to Giving Clear Instructions to Learners

Are you looking for a guide to giving clear instructions to students? If so, keep reading.

1. Train the student to carry a notepad with them at all times and to write information down to help them remember.

2. Assess the degree of task difficulty to ascertain if the student will require additional information, time, assistance, etc., before assigning a task.

3. Provide oral questions and instructions that involve only one concept or step. As the student shows success, slowly increase the number of ideas or steps.

4. Use the student’s name to gain their attention prior to delivering oral questions and instructions.

5. Connect with parents (e.g., notes home, phone calls, etc.) to disseminate information about the student’s progress. The parents may reinforce the student at home for answering oral questions and instructions without requiring repetition at school.

6. Show the appropriate way to listen to oral questions and instructions (e.g., look at the person who is talking, ask questions, etc.).

7. Provide instructions and requests in a compassionate rather than a menacing manner (e.g., “Please repeat the instructions,” rather than, “Tell me what I just said!”).

8. Provide instructions, explanations, and information using vocabulary that is within the student’s level of comprehension.

9. Provide information to the student on a one-to-one basis or use a peer tutor.

10. Provide oral instructions prior to handing out learning materials.

11. Refrain from placing the student in situations that require listening for an expanded duration of time, such as lectures, seminars, etc. Give information for the student through a recording or lecture notes.

12. Provide questions and instructions in written form.

13. Show directions, explanations, and instructions as they are presented orally (e.g., use the smartboard to work a problem for the student, begin playing a game with the student, etc.).

14. Think carefully about the student’s capacity and ability level when expecting them to respond to oral questions and instructions.

15. Ascertain if the student heard what was said by having them repeat it.

16. Talk with the student about the consequences of their behavior (e.g., if you begin a work task before all instructions are grasped, you may do things incorrectly).

17. Do not accept “forgetting” to listen as an excuse. Make the student responsible for missed information.

18. Urge the student’s parents to take advantage of dinner and other family-gathering times to converse and practice keeping attention.

19. Do not punish the student for asking questions.

20. Jot down essential information for the student (e.g., the school assembly begins today at 1:40 p.m., math test tomorrow, early dismissal on Friday).

21. Consider using a classroom management app to help the student learn to respond appropriately to instructions. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

22. Consider using Alexa to help you with classroom management. Click here to read an article that we wrote on the subject.

23. Click here to learn about six bonus strategies for challenging problem behaviors and mastering classroom management.

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