Why Sequencing is Important

Why Sequencing is ImportantWhat is sequencing, and why is it important? We use sequencing as a part of our daily routine. It involves ordering events based on their chronological timeline. Essentially, these are the steps that we use to complete a task (e.g., hand washing or following a recipe). For example:

Washing Hands:

  1. Wet hands
  2. Put soap on hands
  3. Lather hands with soap and water
  4. Dry hands with towel

While this may seem fairly straight forward to most, several individuals with developmental delays and/or young learners experience difficulty with sequencing. As a result, they may need explicit instruction on how to complete a routine.

Why is Sequencing Important?

The ability to sequence tasks and understand information in a chronological manner is critical to development of literacy skills. Target literacy skills include: the ability to identify the beginning, middle, and end of a story; making a prediction for “what will happen next?’ in the story; and retelling or summarizing a story in a sequential manner.

The most basic level of sequencing exists in functional routines (e.g., washing hands or getting ready for school/work). Most individuals acquire a rote means of completing a functional routine without needing to reference a picture or visual. However, the development of these skills evolves from functional routines to higher-level language functions including:

  • Understanding cause and effect
  • Following multiple step directions
  • Narrative skill development
  • Understanding and using transition words (e.g., “first, second, then, next, last, finally)
  • Reading and writing
  • Learning schedules and creating them
  • Organizing information
  • Time management skill development

Sequencing skills are targeted throughout nearly every level of the school-aged (i.e., kindergarten through 12th grade) academic curriculum. A strong foundation for the above higher-level language functions is essential for understanding and using information covered throughout the curriculum.

How is Sequencing Taught?

Therapists often implement  picture cards to teach or improve sequencing abilities. This includes a picture representation of each step in order to complete a task. Once the learner can sequence a task using the pictures, the visuals are often removed. Instruction remains ongoing until the person can complete the task independently.

Sequencing or picture cards can be used not only in speech therapy, but across other therapies, at school, or at home. Not all sequencing cards come in picture form. Higher level learners who have developed reading skills may benefit from text cards. A great example of this is a recipe card. Aside from sequencing cards, graphic organizers or timelines are also used to target sequencing skills.

If you have concerns about your child’s ability to sequence and complete tasks, call MOSAIC today to schedule an evaluation with one of our speech therapists.