Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? It is actually pretty simple.
Sequencing – the concept of putting things in order. It is the idea that before Jimmy can pop his sister’s bubble, she has to blow one; or that before we dry off the shaggy dog, something made him wet.
We sequence things all the time, and we help our kids with that skill without even thinking about it. Did you ever sing the alphabet song with your toddler? Help your preschooler count 1 to 10 (and back again)? That’s sequencing.
Letters in a sequence create words. Words in a sequence make sentences. When we talk with kids, read, or listen to stories with kids, we are putting sequencing in motion. As we build this skill, we are helping kids understand processes, communicate events clearly, and build analytical and critical thinking skills.
Here are some ways to incorporate sequencing into everyday activities.
Reading Out Loud
Reading books together is probably the most obvious way of practicing. If you’re reading a picture book, ask your child what they think will happen next. Or if you’re sharing a chapter book, ask them what has happened so far in the story.
Talking about everything you do is easy, right? It is storytelling and that involves sequencing. Narrating the steps you take in a process in everyday activities helps kids strengthen that part of their brain that will later organize more complex ideas and events. A few ideas:
Cook together. Recipes are a ready-made option for learning about doing things in order.
- Give the kids a map of your day. Did you go to the gym, work, and hit the grocery store on the way home? Maybe you picked them up from school, took them to soccer practice and read a book while you waited for practice to finish.
- Let your child be the teacher. Ask your child to teach you something: how do you take a bath? how do you brush your teeth? how do wash a doll’s hair? Keep it simple, but think of something that has two or three steps
- Ask your kids what they did today. In the car, at the dinner table, it doesn’t matter where you ask the question. Just make sure that you pose the question in a way that doesn’t let them get away with a yes-or-no answer.
Imitation isn’t just for flattery, it can be a great tool for learning, too.
- Use colored blocks or Legos to create a pattern. Then ask your child to copy your pattern.
- Practice an activity together. Teach your child how to set the table. Show them where to place the fork, spoon, and napkin.