Step by Step: The Value of Following Directions

Following Directions with Shurley English.jpg

For my birthday, I received a beautiful interior sliding barn door as a gift.  I envisioned that this hefty, rustic door was going to be a unique addition that would bring more style to my home.  With a few extra hands, how hard could this DIY project be if we just followed the instructions?  Right?

Well, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be!

Have you ever experienced a situation when you didn’t need to read the directions for a simple recipe or to assemble a new toy?  I’d venture to say that sometimes that works out, but not every time.  Even when you’ve read the instructions, they sometimes aren’t clear enough to get the final product you’d hoped for.  If that’s the case, you may end up with holes in your wall and a barn door that is now taking up space leaning against the wall. (Ugh!)  When it comes to reading the directions every time, I’m just as guilty as the next person—I don’t always do it. 

In the classroom, many students bypass the instructions and head straight to number one on the assignment.  Shurley English students are not immune to this; it happens all the time.  As a teacher, it’s frustrating and heartbreaking to see the defeat in a child’s eyes when they realize they haven’t followed the directions and must start the assignment over.

Shurley English stresses the importance of following written directions and gives students plenty of opportunities to practice following directions and writing them.  Students learn that they will follow written directions for various reasons such as following recipes, filling out forms, taking tests, and following “how to” instructions.  We also teach students that it is normal to have to read directions several times to fully understand what to do. 

There’s a simple, hands-on activity in the Shurley English Quick Reference section that can help you reinforce following directions.  You might enjoy implementing it in your classroom now!  Here’s how it works…


Writing Activity: (Students will need a partner for this activity.)

1.     One partner will hide a small object in the classroom.

2.     Then, he/she will write simple instructions for the other partner to follow and locate the item.

3.     Now, reverse roles and hide the object again.

4.     Discuss the ease or difficulty of writing and following these directions.

5.     Which did you find easiest? Why?


Remember, in order to be competent and confident at anything, you have to practice, practice, practice!  So, practice reading the directions first!  You’ll be glad you did!