Using words in guiding children can be helpful or confusing, according to our choices of phrases. Many children develop protective “deafness” against adult directions because they hear too many of them. In helping young children learn through verbal directions one must first get the child’s attention. Then use clear, short meaningful phrases that are expectant and encouraging. Directions are positive rather than negative in form, and they are always specific. One should give just what verbal help is most needed by the child.

A Preschool Teacher will usually say this: Instead of saying this:

• “You may hold your glass.” “Oh, aren’t you going to drink your water?”

• “You need to turn off the faucet” “Don’t turn on so much water.”

• “Yes, you may go walking after nap time” “No, you can’t go walking until after you rest.”

• “We stay inside the fence.” “Don’t go out into the street.”

• “Hold the pitcher steady and walk slowly.” “Be careful. You are going to spill that.”

• “Hold on tightly when you climb.” “Be careful so you won’t fall.”

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