Effective Instructions

Simple and clear statements of our behavioral expectations

Young children are still developing their abilities to pay attention, remember information, and follow directions. Clear and simple instructions make it more likely that children will know what to do in the classroom. 

Hallmarks of This Strategy

Simple and Clear

Easy to follow directions help children understand and remember what to do.

Specific, Assertive, and Positive

Effective instructions are specific, delivered as statements-not questions- and tell children what to do rather than what to stop.

Intentionally Delivered

Gaining children’s attention, building in wait time, and following through on your instructions leads to children listening and succeeding in the task.


Effective Instructions

In this lesson, we explore the characteristics of effective instructions and the best ways to use them in the moment. We discuss how to phrase instructions so they are specific, assertive, and positive. We also cover simple steps to make your delivery of instruction as intentionally and effective as possible.


Additional Resources

Guide to Providing Effective Instructions (Español)

Learn more about this strategy and its importance, and learn tips for trying it in your classroom.

Family Guide to Using Clear Directions (Español)

Share this guide with families to communicate the strategies you're using at school. Take time to make connections between how children are supported at home and in the classroom.

Handout: Communication is Key

Explore examples of effective instructions you can use with children today.