How To Teach Sequencing Skills at Home

By Dr. Rick Bavaria

Study Skills
Help Kids Learn Sequencing Skills

Parents know that every waking moment for a child is a moment to teach them something new or help them develop a skill. But who knew you could easily incorporate a sequencing lesson during that bedtime story, cooking those Sunday morning pancakes or doing those weekly chores?

Sequencing — putting events, ideas, objects, places and even people in logical order — is an essential skill for children to learn. We all organize our busy daily lives with sequencing and understand our roles and places in groups through sequencing. Sequencing seems simple, but it’s one of those “higher-order thinking skills,” as we teachers say. Learners use sequencing as they apply steps to solve a math problem;it’s also necessary for reading comprehension and required for good writing.

Here are a few ideas you can try at home to help your kids understand sequencing.


1. Fiction sequencing. It’s helpful when reading to youngsters to stop occasionally — careful not to overdo it — and talk for a few moments about what you’ve read. Pretend you’re not too bright and ask questions. “I forget. What happened before Cinderella went to the ball? Afterward?”

2. Nonfiction sequencing. This is especially important for subjects like history. There’s more brain power involved in knowing the chronological order of the presidents than you’d think.Sequencing helps kids put history in context.

3. Kitchen sequencing. Recipes are nothing more than sequencing steps, although it’s especially nice that they result in something yummy. Read a recipe together, and then ask your kids to help you create something tasty. “What should we do next?”

4. Chores sequencing. When you’re washing the car together, figure out the best order to accomplish it. Top to bottom? Wheels first? Windows? What should come first? Then what? Why?

5. Hobby sequencing. Have your kids explain how they maintain their favorite hobbies. How do they paint those landscapes? Build those model spaceships? Create those online videos? If you can understand the process, they’re doing a good job of sequencing.

6. Sports sequencing. Explaining a sport — not to mention playing it — requires sequencing skills. Ask about the rules for just about any sport, and you’ll begin a conversation that involves sequencing.

7. Family history sequencing. Ancestry is family sequencing, and family trees are the very definition of sequencing in picture form. Tell your family history, or learn it together, and draw your family’s ancestry tree. Plus, you’ll learn so many good stories as you talk to your older relatives and hear their stories.

8. Direction sequencing. Ask your kids to give you directions to their best friend’s house, how to get from their homeroom to the cafeteria in their school or where to find a hidden treasure in the back yard. (“First you go to the big fir tree. Then you take seven steps to the left. After that, you turn right and head to the swing set. Finally, look next to the left rear leg of the swings.”)

9. Homework sequencing. Together, figure out the most effective sequence of homework time. “Math can be difficult, so I’ll start with that. The book report is due next week; have I read today’s chapter? Do I have all my supplies nearby?”

10. Prediction sequencing. This can be fun when you’re discussing a book you’re reading together, a movie you’re watching or a TV series the family is following. “What’s going to happen next? Then what? Why do you think so?”


For some kids, I find it helpful to write the steps of a process on flash cards. Decorate the flash cards, shuffle them and then put them in order. No reason why sequencing can’t be fun, right?