Verbal cues - the secret sauce to children learning -

Verbal cues – the secret sauce to children learning

Simple verbal cues like butterfly hands and chicken wings are a great way to help young children learn a new skill or task.

What is a cue?

A cue is a prompt that helps remind and reinforce a particular task. According to Dr Judith E. Rink the chairperson of the national standards for physical education in the US, cues are used to identify the critical elements or features of a motor skill or task.

Why Kindysport use cues?

Most children are visual learners so we use our cues to draw a child’s attention to a key element of a skill which enables them to visualise that particular action. We also find that young children in the cognitive stage of learning can become easily overwhelmed learning a complete skill because they are unable to manage large amounts or multiple stages of information.

With the use of cues we can separate and organise a skill into more manageable segments and then sequence that back together, to better structure and improve a child’s learning of a skill. Cues also add an element of fun into the learning of new skills which help to engage and motivate children. 

How can you create and use cues to help teach children?

When designing and using cues for children we make sure that they align with Dr Rink’s 6 characteristics of good learning cues. This means that the cues are: 

  1. Accurate,
  2. Brief and critical to the skill being performed,
  3. Appropriate to the skill level and age of the learner,
  4. Appropriate for different kinds of content,
  5. Organized sequentially,
  6. And more effective if learners have the opportunity to rehearse them. 

We’d recommend using 1-3 cues to target an area of a skill a child is having trouble with. 


Cues break down more complex skills to make learning easier for children. They also add elements of fun and improve engagement.

If you want to see the cues we use when teaching the first steps of different ball skills, check out our “How to” series for ball skills playlist on youtube (click on link below).


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