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date: 21 March 2019


A Dictionary of Social Work and Social Care

John Harris,

Vicky White


Breaking down an activity into a series of small cumulative steps and learning each step, one at a time, until it is thoroughly mastered, before moving on to the next, until the entire activity (or chain) can be carried out. An approach often used with people with learning disabilities as a way of their learning daily life skills. A variant is ‘backward chaining’, a technique in which the steps are mastered in reverse order, so that, for example, if someone were learning to tie shoe laces through backward chaining, the initial stage would be to complete the final step of tightening the completed knot to secure the shoe.