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5 Techniques for Teaching Sequencing Skills in Early Years Childhood Education

Teaching Sequencing Skills in Early Years Childhood Education

The ability to read and write well begins in infancy. Even before a baby is born, they listen to essential sounds around them. As a child moves into toddlerhood, as well as listening, they begin to develop their own ability to talk, using speech to communicate and make sense of the world around them.

At around the age of two, a child will begin oral rehearsal and take steps towards becoming a competent talker. They also start to sequence events in their world and move towards oral narrative competence. 

Oral narrative competence is the ability to tell a story from memory. It involves using cognitive and language skills and an awareness of the listener’s needs.  For a child to do this they need to know how to sequence independently and put events in the correct order. Children who have developed this by the end of the early years tend to be higher achieving throughout their time at school, particularly in reading and literacy.

But how do you teach children to sequence? How do you help them to understand the idea of what happens next? And what strategies are the most effective? 



What is sequencing?


Sequencing is the process of arranging events according to how and when they happened, using vocabulary such as the first, then, next and finally. By around 18 months, children start to understand instructions and the idea that things are ordered. As adults, we can help develop this by presenting two-part directions, such as at mealtime- first wash your hands, then sit at the table. 

For adults, sequencing can seem commonplace. For young children, the process of organising ideas can be complex. Giving events a clear beginning, middle and end helps with this. There are many teaching strategies that can be used both at home and school. 


Techniques for Teaching Sequencing


There are many strategies that both teachers and parents can use daily to help children become independent in ordering events.


1. Talk through the daily routine.


Sequencing is part of our every day, in the way our lives are structured. These routines are key events to a child, so they will become familiar with them quickly, which is a great place to start. Often these routines will happen in the same order too, such as the morning routine- first, we wake up, then we have breakfast, after that, we have to get dressed and brush our teeth. 

By talking about these as you do them, children will begin to see the patterns. You are also modelling spoken language, which is crucial to how children learn to talk.


2. Sequence pictures


Adding visual cues, whether photographs or pictures, supports learning because they help children make links and associations between things they have learnt.  An example is using a visual timetable at school. This will help children visualise and understand the structure of the school day. 

Using images with talk is at the heart of the Chatta approach. When using picture cards to help structure and recall a series of events, you are providing them with tools to remember the event more clearly and accurately and give opportunities to extend the sentences and vocabulary. 


3. Read stories and talk about them.


Stories play a fundamental role in many aspects of a child’s development. Reading stories supports many areas of the curriculum, most fundamentally, language development. 

By listening to stories, children see and hear information, the perfect audio-visual resource for dual coding. Stories are also a fantastic way to help children sequence. After sharing a story, discuss what has happened- creating simple cards to reorder the story and use language such as, first, then, and after that.

Chatta promotes the use of stories and reading for these reasons. Children whose parents read with them have improved speaking skills and subsequently become more successful readers and writers.


4. Play


During play, a child will often create their own unique themes. Playing alongside children to support the application of new vocabulary in context will further their understanding. 

With support, children can sequence what is happening. For example, a child playing with a small world farm set will enjoy moving the animals around to various pens with animal noises. Adults can scaffold and extend this by modelling language; first, the farmer gets the food, then he feeds the pigs; after that, he lets the chickens out and milks the cows. This simple example is a base for children to follow and create a sequence of events that they can talk through and build upon. 


5. Following instructions


Giving a child clear and straightforward instructions also builds an understanding of what happens next. Parents and practitioners can embed this into activities such as cooking and following a recipe. Once the process is complete, you could revisit and ask questions such as, what happened first? Then what did we do?

How Does Chatta Support Sequencing?


Language development and speaking are at the heart of everything Chatta does. To support sequencing, the Chatta app uses Chatta’s storyboards which can be shared at home, allowing the child to use their sequencing skills and talk through events in order with their parents. The storyboards can be created around any activity completed at home or in school or can be created by using images to create your own story. The images used can be from the integrated search facility or uploaded from external sources. 

A new feature of the app provides frame reordering, which makes the Chatta frames more interactive so that you can reorder them in and out of sequence.  It is a visual tool and is also used to stimulate talk. It allows learners to see the beginning, middle and end quickly.

If you would like to know more about how Chatta can help your learners, contact one of the team today.

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