A Multi-Modality Approach to Directions
Let’s begin with the first strategy to help Casey (and any other student that does better without multi step directions).
When there are directions that are consistently given or routines to learn and follow, presenting them with as many modalities as possible will ensure that the student can process them.
They can be said, written out, drawn, repeated, sang, have motions, and more.
What can this look like practically? Let’s use a home and a school example.
In the home example, after her mom wakes her up, Casey needs to wash up, get dressed, put her pajamas in the hamper, brush her hair, eat breakfast, pack her lunch, and wait by the door for the bus. Whew! That is a lot to happen and keep track of each morning.
Casey’s mom recognizes the challenges involved and in order to set Casey up for success, she has made a checklist poster that gives her visual cues to guide her through her morning routine.
When Casey wakes up, her mom cues her by saying time to wash up and get dressed, while she hands over the day’s clothing and points to the bathroom (auditory and kinesthetic). When she comes to the table for breakfast, she checks in about her laundry and offers help with her hair, etc.
Casey’s mom has made up a silly song that she sings throughout the morning to remind Casey of what she needs to do. (To the tune of “I like to eat apples and bananas.”) “I need to wash, wash, wash up each morning. Clothes need to be on, on, on, on my body. Pajamas find, find, find their place in the hamper. I need to brush, brush, brush my hair….”
Casey’s mom finds that after a few days, she is able to sing her song and Casey joins along as she completes each step. On other days, she is able to point to the poster and ask if Casey got it all done.
In the classroom, Casey’s teachers can do some of the same things.
I have seen incredible classrooms where there were songs and dances for each transition! The students were consistently saying what they were going to do and acting it out.
If it is a personal need, a teacher can make a cue card or checklist card for a student. The teacher may find it effective to create a classroom poster of the steps if it is a whole class expectation. If it is a one time thing, using the board to write or draw the steps works well also.
In the classroom setting, a teacher can share the expectations and have students repeat them back. A second way to have each student review is a turn and share. The students will turn to their neighbor, student A will share the expectations while student B listens, and then they switch roles. Having the students repeat back chorally is another strategy for repeating the information.
We will continue our discussion with other strategies next week.