26 Strategies to Help Students Who Fail to Follow Verbal Instructions and Directions

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Are you looking for strategies to help students who fail to follow verbal directions and instructions? If so, keep reading.

1. Provide visibility to and from the learner. The teacher and the learner should be able to see each other. Make eye contact possible at all times when giving oral instructions.

2. Assess the clarity and quality of oral directions, explanations, and instructions given to the learner.

3. Designate a peer to work with the learner to help them follow oral instructions.

4. Provide instructions, explanations, and information using vocabulary that is within the learner’s level of comprehension.

5. Refrain from placing the learner in situations that require listening for an expanded duration of time such as lectures, seminars, etc. Give the information for the learner through a recording or lecture notes.

6. Be firm, fair, and consistent, expecting the learner to listen to and follow instructions. Do not Let the learner fail to follow instructions one time and expect instructions to be followed the next time.

7. Ensure the learner has heard what was said by having them give acknowledgment (e.g., by saying, “Okay!” “Will do!” etc.).

8. Tell the learner that it is their behavior that determines whether consequences are positive or negative.

9. Connect clearly to the learner when it is time to listen to oral instructions.

10. Support the learner in performing their duties. As they show success following oral instructions, slowly decrease the assistance and require the learner to independently assume more responsibility.

11. Provide a predetermined signal (e.g., clapping hands, turning lights off and on, etc.) before giving oral instructions.

12. Connect with parents (e.g., notes home, phone calls, etc.) to disseminate information about the learner’s progress. The parents may reinforce the learner at home for following oral instructions at school.

13. Show directions, explanations, and instructions as they are presented orally (e.g., use the smartboard to work a problem for the learner, begin playing a game with the learner, etc.).

14. Show the steps of oral instructions as they are delivered to enable the likelihood that the learner will follow the instructions accurately.

15. Create instruction-following tasks/learning activities (e.g., informal learning activities designed to have the learner carry out oral instructions in steps with increasing degrees of difficulty).

16. Assess the visual and auditory stimuli in their surroundings. Ascertain the number of stimuli the learner can tolerate. Remove unnecessary stimuli from their surroundings.

17. Do not criticize when correcting the learner; be honest yet compassionate. Never cause the learner to feel negatively about themselves.

18. Do not give instructions to the learner from across the classroom. Go to the learner, get their full attention, and tell the learner what they are to do. As the learner’s capacity and ability to follow oral instructions increases, slowly increase the distance of communication.

19. Provide oral instructions before handing out learning materials.

20. Provide the learner with short directions, explanations, and instructions to follow. As the learner shows success, slowly increase the length of the directions, explanations, and instructions.

21. Consider using a classroom management app to help the student follow directions and instructions . Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

22. Consider using Alexa to help you with classroom management. Click here to read an article that we wrote on the subject.

23. Click here to learn about six bonus strategies for challenging problem behaviors and mastering classroom management.

24. Read this article that we wrote on developing listening comprehension skills.

25. Read this article that we wrote explaining why verbal comprehension skills are important to academic success.

26. Read this article that we wrote on what you should do when your child struggles with verbal comprehension.

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