One of the easiest ways to help a child stay on task is to use a First-Then visual support. It can be as simple as writing the words on a piece of paper with the word “First” on the left side, the word “Then” on the right side and a line separating them. Even though most preschoolers do not read, they quickly learn the meaning of the two words. There are several examples available on Google Images. I included two samples at the top of the page.
On the “First” side, place a picture (using photos, Google images, Boardmaker, Do2Learn, or my personal favorite; line drawings on sticky notes) that indicates what the child needs to do “First”. Then, place a picture of what happens when the activity is finished on the “Then” side. Initially, use two highly motivating activities. When the child understands the concept, place a picture of an activity that you would like him/her to work on on the “First” side and a picture of a highly motivating activity on the “Then” side. Eventually, both sides will represent activities that follow your classroom schedule.
Using this visual support helps children to understand what you want them to do. It relieves anxiety by allowing them to see what they will be doing next. It also reduces the need for you to constantly tell them what they should be doing. (How’s that working for you?). You can simply point to the pictures or tell them to check their schedule.
More ideas for First-Then supports:
Give the First-Then visual supports a try. I hope you find them as useful as I do!
Please post comments, questions and success stories! Miss Debi