Promoting Independence: Less Talk, More Time

Are you tired of having to repeat directions over and over?  Your students may be too.  When expressing simple expectations such as “sit down” or “raise your hand”, we may not immediately get what we are looking for.  While it seems like they are just being non-compliant, they may not be responding because they process information at a slower rate.

When a behavioral expectation is expressed there are four large steps that take place in the mind of the listener that we often forget.

  1. The mind hears what is being said.
  2. The mind creates a vision of what that expectation looks like.
  3. The vision develops into a motor plan.
  4. Finally, the motor plan goes into action and the learner performs the expectation.

While we can go through these steps quickly, many of our students cannot   While it may take us less than a second, it could take your student’s eight.  So when you get impatient after five and repeat the direction, it can be like telling a kid to start a project over after already having done half of it.

computerThink of your child’s processor like a computer.  What happens when you click on the mouse and it doesn’t follow through with the action in the first few seconds?  You click again, right?  Well when you click again, another command has been given and it has to start all over.  So you click again and again, and eventually the system freezes up.

If you want your student to become more independent and learn to respond to directions the first time, give them the time to do so.  Learning happens according to their processor, not yours.  It takes discipline and patience to consistently give this needed time to a learner, but it makes your time spent with them more meaningful.

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