Procedure: a series of actions conducted in a certain order or manner.
As preschool teachers, we do procedures all day long.
It may not feel like we’re doing some super technical medical procedure, but we often find ourselves carrying out a series of actions in a certain order day after day.
Take hand washing for example, there is certain way to do it. If we dried our hands before adding soap, the soap would be less effective. Just like those kiddos that wash their hands before using the bathroom <huh?!
Procedures are a way of life when teaching preschool. We stick to a schedule and with that schedule comes things we do everyday, the same way.
In the past, I have always taught procedures. I modeled how, we practiced together, I reminded a lot. But, last year I decided to finally take the time to create visuals to go along with my procedures.
Why, oh why did I not do this sooner?!? Ya know when you say the same directions over and over again and you feel like you might just lose your mind? Or, maybe you even put those directions into a little tune and sing them, which totally helps- but then one day you up and forget the tune and make a new one up that is totally less effective <yep- do this a lot.
Visual procedures solve this. By giving students a place to look for the answer, we are encouraging independence (bonus: you aren’t having to say the directions over and over again). By using visuals students can see it- not just hear it and they take themselves through the steps.
Now, don’t get me wrong…. I didn’t just put these visuals around the room and POOF children were doing everything by themselves. They aren’t filled with any sort of magic… sadly. I still had to teach the procedures, using the visuals. It wasn’t any less work up front. But, I will tell you- it was less work on the back end.
To start, I hung the visual where it made the most sense. Bathroom procedure in the bathroom, entering the classroom procedure right outside our door (kid-eye level) and carpet time procedures by the… you guessed it.. carpet.
Then, as the procedure arose during our day, I took time to walk through the steps on the procedure cards. I still modeled them. I still said them aloud. But, now I also had a visual component for my non-readers.
I ran through the procedures by modeling, saying them aloud and pointing out the pictures for several weeks. Like I said, it is still work on the front end.
But, a couple weeks in and they had it down. Just like the did the years before. But, the difference now was that with the visuals, if a procedure was forgotten (say over a long break) it could be easily picked back up by pointing out the visual procedure.
You know, something else interesting happened when I put up these procedure cards…. I found some of my students were using them as little checklists. “Ok, I did that… now I need to…”. Um, how awesome is that? Seriously- as a list maker myself I understand the value of checking something off a list. These procedure cards had given that to some of my more type A personality kiddos! And…. they were doing it independently (ie: without needing me and my guidance through every step- whew!).
So, needless to say I am now a big fan of visual procedure cards. I had always had a visual schedule and knew the importance and benefits of that- so why it took me so long to implement visual procedure cards- who knows… But, I’m glad I did!
Let’s dig into the nitty gritty-
I’m pretty sure I dove head first into the WHY of visual procedure cards above. But, to give a cave man definition as to why: Less work- more independent children. Need I say more?
What activities need a visual procedure?
Well, if it has more than 1-2 simple steps and happens often- then, it might need a visual procedure. Do you find yourself saying the same thing again and again everyday during the same time of day? That time of day probably needs a visual procedure.
What procedures do you teach?
Um… a lot of them. #truth. But, in all honesty- I like to make my life easier later in the year- so I visual procedure up a ton of things! Which things? Check out my Preschool Classroom Procedures Checklist.