Following directions is an important life skill. And first graders are in the midst of learning how to follow all kinds of different instructions. Bless their hearts!
I try my best to always be clear in what I say and in what I teach. But of course, there's always the one who misinterprets what you say ... or they have a different viewpoint or perspective! lol
This is when things get interesting because, as you know, the child is not afraid to try something (anything) his or her own way!
While independent thinking is valued, as any teacher will tell you, sometimes it's simply not the time for it. And at age six, the first grader may or may not be willing to learn how to listen AND follow directions.
After school, Ms. Donny – the school nurse – told me what had happened with one of my students today …
She said she gave Weesie a small paper cup. “Go get some water in the cup and come back. I’ll give you the medicine your mother sent.”
When the child returned, Ms. Donny said, “Here’s your pill … Where’s your water?”
“I runk it.”
“Well, go get some more,” she told her, “but, THIS TIME, leave some in your cup.”
When she returned this time, Ms. Donny asked her again, “Where’s your water? Didn’t I tell you to put some in your cup, and come back?”
Sweet little Weesie retorted defensively, “I aw weddy put it in my cup. And I aw weddy runk my rank of water!” She let out a long sigh and blurted, “Now, what’s next? I ready!”
My assistant was leaving the classroom to go check on Clarissa ...
We wanted to know what was taking her so long to come back from an errand she had run to the teacher's classroom NEXT DOOR!
About that time hot and red-faced Clarissa jogged into the classroom. She was out of breath.
And I couldn't believe my eyes. From her ankles down, she was covered in mud!
“Well?” I said, curious as I could be, “what took you so long?”
"Well,” she echoed, “I come right back ... I just took the LONG shortcut!”
When one of my students leaves the classroom, I insist on the child following specific instructions ...
This afternoon, I asked today's helper, Stevie, to run an errand for me. “I want you to go to the school office … You know where that is.”
I was teaching him to follow step-by-step directions. “Give this note to the school secretary. Her name is Ms. Pamton. Do you remember her?”
“Is she the one behind the desk?”
“Yes,” I said, “that’s right.”
“I’ll find her,” he said, taking the note.
“Go only to the office. Don’t go anywhere else. Ms. Pamton is the only person to get this note ... Is that clear?”
Well, here's the thing ... Some kiddos know exactly what to say ... They know how to feed your words straight back to you! lol And that only proves to me that they were listening!
"I got this, Teacher," he said, "'cause I'm listening and following directions!"
With that, he left. And I knew I could trust him.
Sure enough, he was back in two minutes. “I’m telling you NOW! They ain’t NO lady down thar, NOWHERE, behind NO desk! So I gave the note to SOMEBODY, somebody chopping paper.”
“Hmmm,” I said, laughing and thinking to myself, I should have explained that she may or may not be right behind the desk. She may be down the hall or absent!"
"Okay," I told him, "but thank you for listening and following directions the best you could!"
Later, I saw Ms. Pamton, and she told me what had happened ...
She said that Stevie marched in and asked, “Where’s that lady behind the desk?”
Ms. Pamton – who was across the room at the time – said, “That would be ME.”
He glared up at her suspiciously and finally quipped, “Then, why come you ain’t over thar behind that desk?”
* * *
At age six, being literal-minded - which is a normal developmental stage - can sometimes clash with following directions! lol
But that's okay, as long as I know they're trying. Anyway, I have total faith in my kiddos because I know that with time and growth, they'll all get to where they need to be!