The Power of Our Words: How much and which words? - Horizon Academy

The Power of Our Words: How much and which words?

Jan 08, 2021

By Alana Seidenberg, Lower School Teacher

Have you ever prepared for a pitch or a presentation by writing down your talking points or even a script of what you planned to say, and practiced it repeatedly? When we speak on a topic, we generally want to make sure that our words are purposeful, concise, and to the point. Teachers have the same mentality when instructing our students! It is very common for students with dyslexia, other learning disabilities, and ADHD to struggle with completing multi-step directions. Their working memory is not strong enough to hold on to the slew of words presented to them and they complete the most-recent step they’ve heard, skipping everything beforehand. As a result, the teachers at Horizon Academy are extremely thoughtful about how many words they’re asking their students to remember, and which words they’re using to relay their message. Whether introducing new routines or delivering instructions, the teachers at Horizon Academy try to use the least amount of words to tell their students exactly what is expected of them. Our teachers plan out the many steps of a routine or activity prior to teaching it to ensure they’re being as direct and clear as possible. They will even model these steps for their students and have their students do the same before expecting independence.

You may be nodding your head in agreement that your child struggles to complete multi-step directions at home. There are some steps you can take when delivering these instructions to make your child more successful. For example, try saying each step in one or two words. Another tip is to have your child repeat the steps back to you to help them process the order they are expected to follow or the many steps they are expected to complete. You can take this a step further by asking your child, “What is the first step you need to complete?” or “What are you going to do before X?” Similarly, Sarah Ward, an executive functioning expert, recommends having children visualize and/or act out the necessary steps they need to accomplish before beginning the task.

While you cannot physically be in our classrooms during this unfortunate pandemic, you can take a piece of Horizon Academy home with you!