Hesperian Health Guides
Other orientation skills
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To become independent, a child needs to learn to walk in new places and to follow directions. These activities may be difficult for your child to learn and may frighten her at first. It may also be difficult for you to give directions that she can follow. You can be a better teacher for your child if you:
- try the activities with another adult first. Blindfold each other and practice all the steps. Talk about how you can make the instructions clearer.
- then try teaching a child who can see. Blindfold the child and lead her through the same steps that you tried with an adult. Pay close attention to her reactions so you can find ways to reassure and encourage her.
To help your child follow directions
a wall, ask
her to turn
to one side
When your child is comfortable walking by herself, teach her how to make turns.
| ...she is
the wall (3/4
or almost a
Encourage her to pay attention to how her feet move as she does this. Gradually she can move away from the wall and practice on her own. Remember to be patient. Your child will need a lot of practice before she can make turns on her own.
To help your child learn to walk in a new place
These activities will help your child learn about:
- landmarks (any object, sound, or smell that is always in the same place).
- clues (objects, sounds, and smells that give good information but are not always in the same place).
These activities should be done in the order they are described here:
- First, play a game in an area your child knows well. Tell her you have put some things in her path, and see if she can get past them without slipping or falling. This will help her feel more confident about trying to walk in new areas.
- Then let her hold on to one of your fingers and walk a step behind you through a new place.
- As you walk, help her identify landmarks and clues. Be sure to teach her about any dangerous landmarks, like a river or a street.
- When she feels comfortable in that area, walk through it again — only this time walk backward, in front of her, and talk to her while you are walking.
- Finally, walk behind her while she describes what is around her.
- When your child is confident, give her directions starting at a known landmark and explain where to go from there. Do this for very short distances at first, then gradually increase the distance.