How to support children with turn-taking
Turn taking is a vital factor in building positive relationships and social skills. Young children are very egocentric and it can take a while for them to understand and share with their friends. Turn taking can be applied to many areas of development and does not only cover the sharing of toys. These skills begin to form at a very early age. Babies will babble in response to an adults voice, showing early communication skills with the baby learning to take turns in a conversation. As language begins to mature, children are able to express their feelings and emotions, with many going through the “me” and “mine” phase.
Children like to have ownership over people and objects, causing many disagreements between peers. Children may become angry and frustrated when they cannot get what they want. They may express these feelings by grabbing items from other children or refusing to let go of toys. Adults can support children who find it difficult to share through helping the child understand what items belong to them and what belongs to everyone. One of the best ways to show a child the benefits of sharing and working together is to have them participate in fun and co-operative activities that they can enjoy.
Here are 7 Great ways to encourage and support turn taking skills
Create sharing scenarios
Using puppets or dolls to promote good sharing is a great way for children to understand and imitate what they have observed. Perhaps create a puppet show in which one character is upset because a friend is not sharing. Speak to the children and ask what they think should happen. Explain that if the sad character takes the toy, it will upset the other character. Allow the children to talk through the options and the effects on everyone involved.
Sharing bins are a fun way for children to understand sharing and swapping items. Create a box for each child with their photo on, and spread a range of items such as lego, cars, felt tips on a table. Explain to the children that all the toys that will be offered on the table are to be shared out. Let the children take it in turns to add items from the selection to their box. The children are to play with the items in their box, if they want to, they can trade toys with each other.
Cooking is a great way for everyone to share jobs and participate in making one thing as a group. It is a good idea to write down a list of jobs that will need doing such as pouring in flour, mixing, breaking eggs and helping the children to delegate out the job roles. Explain that each child has a job to do and without everyone’s help, the product will not be right. This activity allows children to work together and take turns in the process. The children’s success can then be celebrated by sharing the finished product.
Paper plate friends
This is a good way of encouraging the children to share and wait to use items. Provide each child with a paper plate and explain they will be decorating their plates to make funny faces. Provide bowls of different materials such as coloured wool, straw, buttons and separate these amongst the table. Ensuring you provide a limited number of scissors and glue will encourage the children to have to share resources and possibly wait for others to finish using them first. This activity will also encourage communication skills, enabling the children to need to talk to their peers to request items and offer good manners.
Board games support children in taking turns and waiting for others. Simple games that require children to wait only a few minutes at a time are helpful in supporting children’s attention and listening. Orchard have created some great turn taking games for preschool aged children such as the shopping list. This memory game requires children to take it in turns to match items to their shopping list cards.
Sand timers are a great way to help children visually see the time they have to do something. These are great for using if arguments arise over specific items or toys. Nurseries often find the outside a difficult place for sharing due to the lack of resources such as bikes or tricycles. Using a timer allows the practitioner to offer “switch over”, giving each child five minutes on the bike before having to give it to someone else.
It can be difficult for adults to loan out something that we care about or is special to us, this is the same for children. Some children may bring special items from home into the setting, which can cause disruption if the child does not feel comfortable with sharing. It is a great idea to introduce a “special box” into the room that children can put their toys in at the beginning of the day. It is okay for children to not want to share their own toys, however it is important that the child understands that special items will need to go in the special box during play time to not upset other children.