Why Explicitly Teaching Students to Follow Directions is a Must

How many times during a school year do you remind your students to follow directions? Following directions is a skill we would love all of our students to master. While I may be a bit biased, I believe it is more important in a science classroom than any other class, especially when it comes to the laboratory setting.

why following directions matters

Following directions is an essential skill for academic success. In school, students are often required to follow complex directions to complete assignments, projects, and exams. If students are not able to follow instructions correctly, they may miss important details and not perform as well academically.

Teaching students to follow directions helps with classroom management. When students know how to follow instructions, teachers can spend less time repeating themselves and more time on instruction. This can lead to a more efficient and productive classroom environment.

In my classroom, we use the “Can You Follow Directions” activity during the first week of school. This turns a simple direction-following activity into an entertaining and engaging ice-breaker. Plus, it gives my students another opportunity to get to know each other better.

Learning how to follow directions helps students become more independent. When they know how to follow directions, they can complete tasks on their own, without relying on constant supervision from their teachers or parents.

Following directions is also important for developing social skills. When students can follow instructions, they are more likely to be able to work collaboratively with others, follow group norms and rules, and effectively communicate with others.

Check out this quick activity to assess your student’s ability to follow directions!

Following directions is a critical life skill. In the workplace, employees are often required to follow instructions to complete tasks correctly and efficiently. Failure to follow instructions can result in errors, rework, and even safety hazards. Therefore, explicitly teaching students to follow directions prepares them for success in their future careers.

The “Can You Follow Directions” activity leads us into an open discussion about the importance of following directions in the classroom, but also in our everyday lives. Following directions can increase effectiveness, simplify tasks, eliminate confusion, and save time. These are all important life skills, aren’t they?

If you’re interested in this activity, you might use these guiding questions and topics. I use these topics to guide our conversations with my students:

  • Disposing of chemicals properly in a lab
  • Using the appropriate gas for a vehicle
  • Completing IRS forms correctly
  • Reading a medicine bottle before ingesting
  • Measuring out ingredients when baking a cake
  • A doctor following a specific procedure during surgery

Following directions is a key skill, and as a science teacher, this leads to safe environments for lab and so much more. How do you work on this skill? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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