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Following instructions is not just an important learning skill; it is an essential life skill. Starting from coloring the correct box in preschool and going all the way to applying for social security, directions are an important part of everyone’s life. Yet, many seem to have trouble following them. As toddlers, we are told by our parents not to touch anything that could be potentially dangerous. If we don’t listen to those directions, we either get hurt or are put in “time out” to learn our lesson. Throughout childhood and the teen years, learning to follow directions needs to be reinforced all through a person’s education. Many activities have been designed for this sole purpose.
Standardized writing exams test this skill as well, as many students fail these each year due to ‘not following the directions.’ In the traditional classroom, teachers have developed non-traditional tools to demonstrate the importance of direction following. Some teachers have had students follow a recipe for a favorite age-appropriate food while purposely leaving out an important ingredient. Others have used a simple sheet of tasks numbered one through ten with activity #1 asking the students to read all of the directions before doing anything. The payoff to this lesson is task #10 that will simply say: Now that you have read all of the instructions, please go back and just complete #1 and #2. Of course, many students have jumped ahead and have already finished all of the tasks – not adhering to the first direction to read everything first.
Activities as the ones described above can be duplicated by homeschooling parents providing the same lesson to young people. At Time4Writing, our goal is not only to assist students in improving their writing skills; we also want to emphasize the importance of following directions. There are a set of guidelines at the beginning of each course that students are asked to read before they begin.
They are directed to copy and paste their assignment instructions on to their individual text boxes so that they can have them in full view while working. Students are expected to follow these directions as closely as possible. So, perhaps in years ahead, students who have taken Time4Writing courses will not have to redo their driver’s license applications, have insurance forms rejected, or have tax returns spit out because they were not filled out correctly. They will think back to that online writing course they took that showed them how to write and how to follow instructions.
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