Thursday, 24 March 2016

How You can Teach Kindergarten Students Understand Instructions

One of the best things about a new school year is that you are given the opportunity to start afresh. You get to choose a new way to decorate your class room, organize your class schedule, etc.

One of the most important areas you need to focus on is helping your KG students learn right behaviors from the very start. You need to give them instructions, and they need to understand your instructions. How will you go about it? Here are a few guidelines for you to make these kids understand instructions.

Introducing instructions

For most kindergartners, it will be the first time they are introduced to a structured school setting; they may not therefore understand the concept of instructions. You have to pronounce and spell out to them each instruction loudly and clearly.

You can use cards with visual instruction cues. Explain the activity you are about to carry out with the kids; first give them a model of what you want them to do: give them an example of an activity yourself.

Make use of your magnetic instruction cards for visually reinforcing the activity. For instance, if you want to instruct them to write their name on a piece of paper, put up a cue or an icon representing “name” on the board next to number one. Repeat the activity yourself a couple of times for reinforcement.

Second, if you want to instruct them to color an outline, then put up the “coloring” icon on the board next to number two; name the activity orally, point to the icon/cue and do the activity yourself; go through the sequence a couple of times.

The kids, in turn, observe the steps, repeat after you every step, have enough practice to understand the instruction, and carry it out to your satisfaction.

Make sure the icon cards for the activities of the day are on the board in the proper numbered sequence. Go through each instruction together with the kids, now giving oral instruction: you say aloud the number, and the kids listen carefully and respond with the right action.

Reinforcing behaviors

The behaviors kids need to learn are for life, and therefore should be learnt forever. Behaviors positively and sufficiently reinforced remain for life. There are two kinds of reinforcements – group and individual reinforcements.

Group reinforcements

Group reinforcement is an effective way of involving a class to work as a group. If every kid works quietly and as directed, displaying a desired behavior, then the entire class is rewarded.

A great group reinforcement strategy is to use an appropriately sized marble jar as a tool to reward desired behaviors. The methodology consists of offering positive feedback on an instance of a desired behavior; it may be that of an individual in a group or of the group.

A marble is put into a transparent jar kept on the table each time the expected behavior is displayed.  When the jar is full of marbles, the class as a whole is awarded a group reward.

The strategy is almost always successful, because marble jars are visual and publicized proofs of rewards earned.

Individual reinforcement

Give every child a sticker book. The reward is a sticker on the sticker book, each time a kid displays the right behavior. This will help encourage the kids display the same behavior confidently with understanding.

These ideas can help you manage your classroom activities better. Do not despair, if the kids fail to respond to your cues. They will eventually, as they become more and more familiar with classroom activities.