First/Then Card: School Work

Overview
School
  • First/Then Card: School Work

    Definition:

    A First/Then card or board shows two sequential activities identifying them in order of completion as “First” and “Then.” It sets up clear expectations for the student by providing visual structure. It can function as a behavioral contract for those specific activities or as a visual reminder to the student. Showing a non-preferred task followed by a rewarding activity that immediately follows will make the task more manageable.

    Situation:

    How can I get my student to do work in a subject that he dislikes? Every time he sees math on his schedule, he tantrums and rips up the paper.

    • Situation

      How can I get my student to do work in a subject that he dislikes? Every time he sees math on his schedule, he tantrums and rips up the paper.

    • Summary

      Determine an activity or item your student likes or enjoys. For example if he enjoys spending time on computer always choosing it as a leisure activity then antecedently hand him a First/Then card at math time. The First/Then card has an icon/word for Math followed by the icon/word for computer. Your student now knows that he will be able to spend time on the computer as soon as he is finished with the math work.

    • Definition

      A First/Then card or board shows two sequential activities identifying them in order of completion as “First” and “Then.” It sets up clear expectations for the student by providing visual structure. It can function as a behavioral contract for those specific activities or as a visual reminder to the student. Showing a non-preferred task followed by a rewarding activity that immediately follows will make the task more manageable.

    • Quick Facts
      • Child’s Age: 3-5, 6-10, 11-13, 14-17, 18+,
      • Planning Effort: Low
      • Difficulty Level: Easy
    • Pre-requisites

      Knowledge of the steps of the class or activity, Materials to depict the step in picture or written form, Anticipatory knowledge of non-preferred trigger activity/task and an identified reinforcing activity

    • Process

      1. A reinforcing activity must be identified with the student.

      2. Make a First/Then Board . This can be done with two different colors or post it notes.

      3. The 2 tasks/activities are represented using by icons/words.

      4. The First/Then Board ideally should be explained and used antecedently with clear directions. (Ex. “First, this math, then computer time.”)

    • Documents and Related Resources
    • Nikki Parsons

      This doesn’t address why the student is freaking out about math. The if/then might work on kids who simply don’t like certain assignments, but a destructive tantrum is indicative of anxiety that needs to be addressed first.
      The math class may be too difficult or overwhelming.

      • Christine Gallo

        We appreciate your comment, Nikki. There are several reasons that a child might get upset about a certain assignment. It is always a good idea to find the root of the problem in any behavioral situation and address that first. In some cases, students may tantrum or rip a paper simply because they do not enjoy math and would rather be doing something else. In that situation, the student may need confirmation that “this Math lesson isn’t going to last forever – and as soon as I finish, I get to do what I like to do”. If that describes the student you are working with, the First/Then “schedule” may help to motivate the child to complete the Math work. In other cases, a student may have more deep rooted anxiety around knowing the answer and being correct. He may be overwhelmed by the amount of information and may be reacting so strongly because of this anxiety. We are going to begin a new thread to describe and problem solve ways to address intense anxiety around academic performance. Look for that answer soon. Thank you Nikki.

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