Thursday, 4 June 2015

Instructions for Giving Kids Instructions?

I notice a pattern when I'm giving Ladybug Girl instructions - that I kind of suck at it.  For someone who considers myself a pretty clear communicator, it's embarrassing to keep unlearning the same lesson in hindsight over and over again.

It's so laughingly simple, I need to pass this on so I can remember it.

You know how good corporate communication rules say instructions are like a K.I.S.S. = Keep it Simple, Stupid. Short and Sweet?  I thought I did that every time.

For example, this activity I asked her to help me with  - tearing parsley for cooking.  I hand her a bowl and ask her to break off some parsley leaves.  In my head, I was a fun empowering mama.  

Until I watched her tear stalks (photo above) and I stepped in to correct her.  "No, not like that...".  

I could literally see her wilt in disappointment.  On bad days, moan "awwwww" in frustration with herself.   In an instant I had taken away the independence and confidence I was hoping to create.  By correcting her.

Because I didn't give the right instructions in the first place!

She grudgingly went back to work.  But she didn't enjoy it anymore.

So for kids, the simple rule is to K.I.S.S. - Keep It Short & Show [me].  

If I had started with less talk, more actions and literally showed her how to break off the leaves without the stalks then I imagine the process and the result would be much more pleasant.  

After all, in Montessori teacher-presentations-to-students, sometimes no words are used!  It's all action so that the child can concentrate on understanding one thing at the start.

Whenever I remember to show her an example, it always works out best.  Without fail.

Such a simple thing to remember, right?

Damn epidural.

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  1. At least showing works! I had a kid in my Art Class who didn't follow instructions at all, even if i told him, showed him or 'gently nudged' (i.e. nagged!) him ! He would probably do it once- to get me off his back and then go back to doing stuff in his own way! He wasn't unruly or anything, but he just loved to explore things in his own specific way!

    1. How lucky for your students that their teacher is so aware!


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