Temporal Sequential Ordering

Temporal Sequential Ordering is about recognizing sequences and understanding the concept of "time."  Being able to do things in the right order is an essential requirement at school. Following directions is the most obvious example. Understanding sequence (the correct order of steps) is essential when processing many higher level concepts. Sequences may be linear, such as letters in words, temporal, i.e. series of events, or procedural as in math algorithms. The most important of all sequences is the concept of "time." Developing an appreciation for time and the correct order of steps in a process are integral to understanding how our world functions. When studying "time organized subjects" such as history or "step organized subjects" such a science, some children struggle because they do not understand time or appreciate its importance. Many of these children are easily confused by calendars and schedules.

Interventions at school (for teachers & student)

Adjusting one's rate of communication is very important with students who struggle with temporal sequential thinking.  Teachers should give oral directions slowly, repeat, and often plan on providing printed backups for these students.  Give directions one step at a time and allow time for questions.
Give advanced warning before presenting information that involves sequences, and outline the number of steps that students will need to focus on.

Regularly provide visual representation of any sequential information you deliver, including flow charts, timelines, and other diagrams that map out a process.

Provide outlines or flow charts that follow along with reading that the student is expected to learn from a textbook.  Employ directed reading activities: "read to find ..." and have students fill out part of an outline as they are reading.    

In math, present examples of multi-step procedures that are done correctly, and give them to the student as a model to follow.

Allow students to use calculators if they struggle with the memorization of algorithms.

Regularly repeat, review and summarize key points of the sequence and have the student learn to do this as well.  Encourage rehearsal and subvocalization strategies.

When asking students to memorize sequences, give them mnemonic strategies to help such as songs, rhymes, anagrams, visual references, etc.

Continue practicing for automitization of sequencing subskills: such as drills to master counting, the alphabet, days of the week, etc.  Have students practice these items forwards and backwards.

Fill in the blank items can also be used to practice rapid recall geared toward automitization of sequence information.

Provide students with opportunities to arrange data in order such as cut up stories.

Provide checklists for any sequential procedures the student is expected to follow.

Chunk large blocks of information into smaller ones which are easier to absorb.

When sequential information is broken down into smaller bits, be sure the divisions are natural ones that will make sense to the learner and allow for a natural start on the next flow of information.

When assigning long term projects, be sure to break it down into a series of steps, and check on the completion of one step before assigning the next one.

If the teacher is grading a long term assignment, consider grading each completed step before moving on to the next portion of the assignment.

Provide a written schedule of daily and weekly activities and assignments.  Give advanced warning of tests and long-term due dates.

Provide a classroom calendar that tracks long term projects in the class and use color clues to mark transitions from one step to another.  Review the calendar regularly.

Reduce the number of words to be mastered in spelling lists.

Consider giving spelling recognition tests instead of dictation tests.

Allow printing or typing instead of cursive for student who can't remember the sequence for writing in script.

When teaching reading and spelling, emphasize word families, rules and structural units like prefixes, suffixes, roots, compounds, contractions, and tense markers.

Provide outlines of steps for planning, editing and completing written compositions.

Try out story completion tasks where the teacher gives the student either the beginning, middle or end of a story.  Then have the student complete the story with an appreciation for temporal events, sequence, logical thinking, etc.

At the end of the day, display notices highlighting materials that need to be brought home for assignments.  Consider designating peer teams to check each other at the end of the day as students pack their assignments.

Interventions at home (for parents & children)

Give directions in single steps.
Provide check lists for doing chores around the house.

Always encourage your child to estimate how long a chore, activity or trip will take.

Encourage your child to summarize events of the day before going to bed.

Encourage your child to keep a diary or journal that can be filled out before going to bed.  Help them note the proper time order of the day's events.

Velcro fasteners and slip on shoes may  be necessary for children who have severe difficulties with motor sequencing skills.

Word processing may be essential for children who have difficulty memorizing the sequence for letters in writing script.

Consider purchasing computer software programs that facilitate the planning of writing activities including brainstorming, mapping, outlining, and organizing notes.

If you child needs to use locks, some will be better off using key locks and not combination locks.

Ask teachers to send home any assignment planners, class calendars and other assignment planning sheets.  Be sure to have a central area at home where these sheets can be displayed openly and referred to often.

Purchase for you child notebooks with dividers, colored tabs, and pockets that help to organized work sequentially.

Encourage your child to play informally with sports that require minimal motor sequencing such as shooting basketballs, putting golf balls, and doing simple calisthenics.

If you child struggles when playing a musical instrument, consider providing a choral alternative. 

Have you child learn to bake following a recipe.

Teach your child how to shop in a supermarket using a shopping list.  Be sure to help the child categorize items that will be found in each aisle.

Encourage your child to read comic strips that lay out a brief plot in a sensible sequential order.