Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Teaching Children to "Follow the Leader"

One of my students is having a very difficult time learning to walk in a line.  Last year, he was very anxious and nervous in environments outside the classroom. Each time we walked into the hall, he held a teacher's hand for comfort and security. 

This year is a whole different story! He has really come out of his shell now. He looks forward to functional walks in the hallway. He is willing to explore new things and resists holding a teacher's hand to do so.  Normally, I would be very excited about this development.  We like for our students to be as independent as possible and walking in the hallway without holding a teacher's hand is a good independent skill for all students. However, he does not understand of the concept of walking in line behind a friend or teacher.  He prefers to run ahead.  He does not like to walk behind someone because he can’t see what is ahead and because I think it makes him feel as though he is losing control. 

Throughout the year, we have tried many techniques to supporting him with this skill.  We have used social stories and video modeling of walking in the hallway.  We have also had him do daily hallway errands alone with the teacher to work on walking behind and following.  Unfortunately, our efforts were unsuccessful.  It was as if he did not understand the concept of walking in line. 

I then began thinking of other ways to teach him the concept of following behind.  I remembered that he loves cars and trucks and is highly motivated by playing with them. I created a play activity where he and friends could line up cars and put them in the back of a car-carrying truck. 

The only catch was I used packing tape to adhere pictures of his classmates and teachers on the cars so he could visually see what it meant for students to follow behind their friends and teachers in a line.  

It was the golden ticket! Within a few days, he got the concept of following in line behind someone and could do so each time we were in the hallway.  

Instructor's Insight:  To support his success, I hung a visual of the toy cars lined up next to his place in line.  

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