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Secrets from a Teacher: Break tasks into steps


We got a new couch for our basement at a garage sale this weekend, which meant we had to get the old couch OUT of the basement.  Getting it down there in the first place was such an adventure, we really weren’t sure how we’d ever get it out.  But we found a solution – break it into smaller chunks.

Instead of carrying the massive couch up the stairs and out the door in one piece, we tore the couch apart, and ended up with a much more manageable task.

Sometimes, our kids need things broken down, too.  Sunday morning, I made pancakes for my family.  Isaac could hardly wait, so he was eager to help expedite the process.  I asked him to clear off the table (it still held Saturday night’s supper dishes) and he was willing.  But when he looked at the task before him, he quickly got overwhelmed and whined, “I can’t do it!”

“Clear off the table” seems like an easy task, but for a 3 year old, it can be intimidating.  How would he ever carry all those dirty dishes to the sink?  When I gave more specific directions, it went more smoothly.  “Bring your cup to the sink.” Ten seconds later…”Bring Adam’s cup to the sink, now.”  Ten seconds later… “Okay, now bring your plate.”  Before we knew it, the table was clear.

smaller steps

Breaking a complex task into steps gives kids the confidence and direction needed to complete it.  Whether the task is cleaning their room, completing a big project for school, or just doing a long math problem, segmenting it into do-able chunks can help.

(This post is part of a Secrets from a Teacher to Make You a Better Parent, a part of the write31days.com challenge.  The best way to keep up with this series is to subscribe via email here.)

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