Can your preschooler follow simple commands? By one year of age, babies should respond to “no” and their own names, and should give an object on request. By eighteen months, children should be able to point to one to three body parts and follow simple one-step commands. By 2 1/2 years, they should be able to follow two-step commands. Playing little games to improve children’s listening and following direction skills can be fun for the child and beneficial too!
The following activities are excerpted from my book Language Lessons, which is packed with games and activities to enhance skills in listening, comprehending, and producing language.
· Throughout your day, give your child simple directions to follow. For a very young child, use two-word directions— "stop car," "wave bye-bye," "give book," "come here," or "throw away."
· Play a "clean-up game," giving your child specific instructions. "Put the book on the shelf." "Throw away the paper." "Put the car in the toy box." "Hang your jacket on the hook."
· Have your child hunt for objects around the house and bring them back to you. In this game, he will have to keep the command in his mind for a longer time and possibly deal with more distractions. "Bring me a red shoe." "Find a toy car." "Bring me 2 cookies from the cookie jar." If you have 2 children, this could turn into a competition.
· Use a set of colored blocks or other colored objects. Ask your child to "put a red block into the box" or "put 3 blocks into the box." As an added challenge, use several containers and vary the color, number, or container in each command.
· Scatter sheets of colored construction paper across the floor. Tell your child to, "touch the red paper," "jump on the blue paper," or "sit on the yellow paper."
· Give your child 2-step commands that are related, such as, "Pick up the ball and give it to me." If this is easy, then try commands that are unrelated, such as, "Jump up and down, then find the ball." Move on to 3-step related and un-related commands.
· Read a nursery rhyme and have your child pantomime the actions phrase by phrase.
· Let your child be your "helper" as you do a simple cooking task, such as fixing a bowl of cereal, making a salad, or making a sandwich. Give him step by step instructions to complete the task.
· Play "Simon Says." With very young children, have "Simon" say everything so that every command should be followed. When the children are able to follow commands reliably, add the variation of giving non-"Simon" commands that the children do not follow.
· Play "Mother May I?" Have your child stand across a room or yard from you. Give a command, such as, "Take 2 giant steps" or "Take 3 baby steps." The child must ask, "Mother, may I?" before he proceeds. The parent responds, "Yes you may." If the child forgets to ask, then he may not move on that turn. The first child to reach the parent wins.
Use these ideas as a starting point for your own ideas to improve your child’s ability to listen and follow activities!