Visual Schedules Are Not Just For The Classroom
When a family first calls me, one of the most common complaints is that the child doesn’t follow instructions. In the beginning, the parents see this as a behavioural issue or even worse an indication of laziness or lack of motivation. In almost all cases, it’s the opposite. It is usually a memory or processing issue.
For many of our students being able to understand, remember and then follow through on tasks is compromised in some way. At school we work around this through, visual instructions, prompting, chunking and/or giving instructions one at a time. These accommodations help students to understand and follow through with given instructions.
At home, parents often verbally give children several instructions at once and then get upset or angry when only one of these instructions has been completed. Some of the main reasons that this occurs is because of ADHD, poor working memory and verbal and or auditory processing issues. ADHD and executive functioning can impact their ability to plan and complete all the tasks in order. Attention and focus can get them off track mid-task. Working memory issues can make it difficult for a child to remember all of the tasks that you have asked them to complete, while verbal processing or auditory processing might make it difficult for your child to understand or process everything you wanted.
Create a chart on a white board or chalk board in a common area in the house to display daily chores and procedures that need to be completed. It should clearly outline the chore and or activity and give the time lines for completion.
Morning After School Evening
Make bed Unpack Lunch PJs
Get Dressed Homework Brush Teeth
Eat Breakfast Silent Read
On the other side of the board-leave it blank. When you do need to give instructions, stand in front of the board, give the instructions while writing them. Get your child to repeat them back to ensure that they understand the expectations.
When the child says they have finished what is expected of them, have them check the board. If you’re finding there are still issues with tasks not being completed, have them check off each task as soon as it it is finished, or put a matching whiteboard in their bedroom.
Learning disabilities don’t stop outside the classroom door. Using similar accommodations and tools at home will help your child learn to implement these techniques independently as well as easing the tension at home.