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How Can I Help My Child With Sequencing?

Allison Gardenswartz
Allison Gardenswartz

By Allison Gardenswartz, Consulting Educator


In the fourth-grade class, students read one-and-a-half pages of a story of history. After reading, they must put a list of eight things from the story in sequential order. My son is not able to do well in this area and it has affected his grades. He is a concrete thinker and not very creative. What can we do to help him?


Sequencing is a challenging skill for some and is certainly a skill that can be learned.

Talk with your son about order and what the skill of sequencing means. Then try some practice exercises in which you review and discuss the sequence of things that he is familiar with. You are checking to be sure that he understands the concept of "order" in general.

When he reads his history, have him read the eight things that need to be sequenced first, before reading the passage. Then have him read the passage and highlight each of the eight as he comes to them. He can then look back at his highlights to determine the correct order. These are reading comprehension skills that will prove helpful in life.

Typically, sequencing is a very systematic skill and does not require creativity. The idea is to identify the order in which things occurred: to remember specific details about the reading. Pre-reading questions and marking passages as he reads will help him locate and retain the information. Then, once he has sequenced the events, have him go back to the passage and check it against the reading passage to see if it matches.

If the events are simply factual and cannot be sequenced using logic, then you need to help him develop memory devices to retain the factual order. Sometimes using the first letter of each event and making a silly sentence will help. Try to be creative in your development of practice time so that he does not dread it and thinks of it more as a game or activity that you will attempt together. Finally, talk with the classroom teacher for other suggestions about how to practice the sequencing concept.

Allison Gardenswartz is the founder of a San Diego tutoring center specializing in gifted and remedial learning and test preparation studies. An educator for over 15 years, Allison is an expert in identifying and enhancing the learning abilities of school-age children. Allison now fully devotes her time to parent education, consulting and college counseling. Allison has a teaching credential and has taught for several years in various public school systems. She has three children: Jacob, 11, Sofia, 7, and newly adopted Ryan, who is 3.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.