speech and language

Speech and Language Strategies for Parents & Educators: Following Directions

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by Sophia Guarracino, Speech-Language Pathologist, Olivia's Place Shanghai

by Sophia Guarracino, Speech-Language Pathologist, Olivia’s Place Shanghai

One of the most important points to keep in mind when your child or a student in your class is receiving speech and language services is the importance of carrying over intervention in both the home and school settings. It is ideal for parents, therapists, and educators to work together and discuss the techniques that will be effective for each child. There are many strategies that can be incorporated into a child’s daily routine to boost their speech and language skills. In this post, we will focus on following directions and processing information.

Following Directions: These strategies are intended for students who have difficulty following directions.

  • When giving directions, repeat them using different words.
  • Using gestures when giving directions can be beneficial.
  • If there are several directions, give one to two directions at a time versus all at once.
  • Be specific when giving directions.
  • If possible, give a visual cue. For example, if you are making something with your child or students, you can demonstrate the steps as you go along. Showing the completed project will also provide them assistance.
  • When working with projects that have multi-step directions, it may be helpful to write the directions on the board.
  • Create a list of common directions that are used throughout the day. When needed, they can be laminated and placed on the board for the entire class, or  a smaller version can be placed on the child’s desk or a prominent space at home.
  • The student may benefit from sitting next to another child who would be willing to provide assistance with multi-step tasks.


Processing Information: These strategies can be used with children who have difficulty listening and processing information they hear.

  • Ask basic questions that have the answer in a picture or can be demonstrated through a hands-on activity.
  • Provide small group opportunities where the children can discuss newly learned concepts or ideas.
  • Provide adequate time for the child to process what you have asked and to form their answer. If the child does not respond after a given period of time, ask the question in a different way.
  • Use several modalities when teaching (speaking, reading, writing, listening, visual, hands-on).
  • Do frequent comprehension checks when teaching. Stop periodically and discuss the information you have presented.
  • Encourage the child to ask for help.
  • Provide additional support for writing down information, such as assignments in the student’s homework notebook. Actual pictures could also be taken of what needs to go home (e.g. math book, writing notebook). Some students may need written directions that explain how to complete assignments so that parents can assist them in the home.