Following Directions

Liz Fogle

I have a test I want you all to take. It isn’t hard; just follow all of the directions precisely!

1. Read all of the following directions before you do anything.
2. Print your name, last name first then your first name and middle initial (if you have one), at the top of the page.
3. Draw a line through the word "all" in direction 1.
4. Underline the word "directions" in direction 1.
5. In direction 2, circle the words "your first name."
6. In direction 3, place an "X" in front of the word "through."
7. Cross out the numbers of the even-numbered directions above.
8. In direction 7, cross out the word "above" and write the word "below" above it.
9. Write "Following directions is easy" under your name at the top of the page.
10. In direction 9, add the following sentence after the word "page": "That's what you think!"
11. Draw a square in the upper right-hand corner of this page.
12. Draw a triangle in the lower left-hand corner of this page.
13. Place a circle in the center of the square.
14. Place an "x" in the center of the triangle.
15. Now that you have read all of the directions as instructed in direction 1, follow directions 2 and 16 only.
16. Please do not give away what this test is about by saying anything or doing anything to alert your classmates. If you have reached this direction, make believe you are still writing. See how many of your classmates really know how to follow directions.

So how did you do?!?! The test wasn’t meant to be a trick, but to figure out how well you can follow instructions. I will have to admit, I am a stickler for directions most of the time. Directions are there for a reason and it is important to follow them. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that kids are born knowing! Ugh…I so wish they were! You have to teach them the importance of following instructions.

For the last 2 years our morning routine has looked something like this (or it should): Bug (my daughter) gets up, eats breakfast, gets dressed, brushes teeth, gets hair fixed, puts on shoes, gets backpack, lunch, and nap items. That is a picture of an ideal morning! Well my mornings are far from ideal sometimes. Bug usually get the whole eat breakfast thing and then magically forget the rest of the directions. Do you know how many times a morning I have to remind her to get dressed or brush her teeth?!?! Can we say simple directions?!?! You have to get dressed every morning. I have almost taken Bug to school in her pajamas twice.

What I find interesting is Bug doesn’t have any problem following directions at school (which I am so glad). Her teacher informed me this morning that she could tell Bug to go down the hall to the preschool director’s office, do 10 jumping jacks, pick up a paper in the main office, go to the cafeteria, and back to the classroom with no problem. Excuse me are we talking about the same kids?!?!

What I am not looking forward to is Bug’s teenage years, because at some point it becomes really cool to break rules and not follow directions. At least that is how I remember it. I have to share this story from my high school Chemistry class and the importance of following directions.

In my class we had a group of guys that tried to push our teacher’s buttons. On this particular day, we were mixing chemicals to make fireworks. Before we began making our mixtures, we had to make sure everything was incredibly dry (the mixture was water activated). Once we mixed our chemicals we were suppose to go to the Chemistry Hood and add a few drops of water. The hood would contain the fireworks and vent the reaction to the outside. Well one group of guys didn’t follow directions exactly. Next thing we know we are all taking cover as fireworks began to shoot off in the classroom. The fireworks set off the fire alarms for the entire school and forced an evacuation of 1800 plus students. Can we say…Oops!!! The fire department had to come in and clear the classroom. Needless to say, our teacher and principal weren’t happy.

Following directions it isn’t easy (even as an adult sometimes); I just hope I can continue to teach Bug the importance of it! My goal right now is for Bug to grasp the morning routine instructions a little better because I don’t think I can handle too many more mornings like todays.

How well does your child follow instructions? Do you have a buy the book child or one that likes to deviate from the pages a little?



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