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Break Down Directions

Break Down Directions

Why should I do it:

  • Some students get overwhelmed by too much information on a page
  • Students who are dealing with ADD/ADHD tend to have difficulties with breaking up directions
  • Provides student with small, frequent, attainable goals
  • Helps focus students on specific parts and tasks
  • Increases understanding and follow through

When should I do it:

  • When a student shows signs of being overwhelmed
  • When you are aware of an ADHD/ADD diagnosis either by school or outside school
  • When student is reluctant to start work
  • When a student completes work incorrectly frequently

How do I do it:

  • Re-read directions to the student one part, section, or task at a time
  • Simplify your language
  • Be very concise and clear
  • After explaining one part or re-reading one section of the directions, show the student and point to what you are talking about on the page
  • Have the student repeat and explain each part of the directions back to you and then all the directions after they have all been gone over
  • After explaining the directions fully, do one or several problems or items with the student
  • Allow a break after student completes a portion of the work

Resources & Support for technique:
(Items with footnotes link to external websites)


  1. Teach 2 Write, A Guide for Teaching Writing, Office of Instructional Development, UCLA. Break Down The Assignment Into Steps. [].
  2. Teaching a Child With ADHD. [].
  3. Block, J. and Smith, M. ADD / ADHD and School: Helping Children with ADHD Succeed at School. [].