Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Following Directions in Kindergarten

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: I received a call from my son's kindergarten teacher. She said she noticed my son not listening to directions and being frustrated by not understanding the directions she gives in class. She wants to have a group of educators talk to him as well as the school psychiatrist. He has a problem at home also listening to directions. My husband and I don't know what to do to help him. We want him to well in school. Do you have any suggestions for us? We appreciate any help we could get. Thank you.

A: Give your son's teacher a "star." He's very lucky to have a teacher who is interested in discovering why he is having problems with directions. It can be because he's not listening, distracted, not paying attention, or has a hearing loss. Or it may be because he has an auditory processing problem which is the inability to understand spoken language in a meaningful way in the absence of a hearing loss. It is very important to identify problems early before they can affect learning. His school is definitely on the right track.

Support the school's efforts to diagnose the cause of your son's problem. They may have him evaluated by both an audiologist for his hearing and a speech-language pathologist for his understanding of speech. Be sure to tell the education team working with your son that he also has problems listening to directions at home.

There are several things that can be done at school to help your child follow directions better including sitting him in the front, away from distractions. At home, you can improve his understanding of directions by following these hints:

  • Get your son's attention before giving directions.
  • Speak slowly and clearly without overexaggerating your speech.
  • Vary loudness to increase attention.
  • Give simple directions, and keep them brief.
  • In more complicated directions, use words like first, next, and finally.
  • Check that your child understands your directions by asking him to repeat or summarize them.
  • Encourage him to ask questions when he doesn't understand your directions.
  • Try not to show frustration when your child misunderstands directions.

    More on: Expert Advice

    Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

    Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks


Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!