Following Instructions

The easy way to support your child’s following instructions at home

You may have noticed that a lot of our little owls are working on following directions, understanding instructions and knowing the meaning of words such as ‘next to’ and ‘behind’ with their Early Start Speech Pathology therapists. With a new school year starting your child’s preschool and classroom teachers might start to have greater expectations of what your child should be able to do in terms of following directions.

Following directions and instructions is important for your child’s confidence and independence. We want them to know what they should be doing and not feel lost or overwhelmed in their class setting.

Here are some of Early Start’s favourite ways to work on following directions that fit into your already busy schedule and shouldn’t take any extra time. We like to focus on our families and think about what routines you regularly do that are “therapy friendly”.

Play time: Play is the best way to learn and understand new words and there are so many great words to work on during play (‘in’, ‘on’, ‘under’, ‘next to’, ‘behind’ and ‘in front’ are just a few).

You can easily give long or short directions to develop listening skills using any toy or activity that your child loves to play with. Ask things like “Can you put the red car inside the garage and the blue truck next to the stop sign” so that they think they are playing, but in actual fact they are following your instructions. Another way is by asking your child questions such as “Should we put baby in the bath or next to the bath? Ok, you do it”.


Food time:  A lot of our Owls love helping and may even have some chores around breakfast and dinner time, so it’s the perfect way to give them directions on how to set or clear the table. You can even make it a game on who can remember the most things like:

  • “Put the knife in between the fork and the plate”.
  • “Pick up one glass and two spoons and put them in the dishwasher”.
  • “After you put down the plates, put down the knives”.

As always, the Early Start Speech Pathology team can help you along the way. We can play these style of games in therapy so that you can see and hear what to say or provide you with a great list of words to use while giving directions.