Children struggle to fully understand the skill of turn-taking until they are five years old
Recent research that has been published has suggested that turn taking and conflict management is a cognitive skill that children are not able to acquire until the age of five. This would be in line with recommendations made by the early years foundation stage with them suggesting these skills appear between the ages of 30 – 60 months. The research displayed how the majority of five-year-olds were able to take turns in an activity which rewarded them with stickers compared to over just half of the three olds who had to take turns to complete the same activity.
Although the research suggests that cognitively children are unable to turn take properly before the age of five, the fact that half of the three-year-olds could display true turn taking suggests that it is possible for children to achieve this skills at the age of three.
The importance of developing turn taking
Turn taking is an important skill that will need throughout a child’s early education and throughout primary education. It is something that is promoted between children on a daily basis. It allows children to form friendships with others and develop in confidence and esteem. Turn taking is also an important skill that will support development in other areas such as personal and social and also communication and language development.
Ofsted now requires evidence that British values are being instilled in children within the early years. There are four different British Values, and each of these can be promoted through respecting others, sharing and turn taking. The importance of British values is great in ensuring children grow into model citizens who have tolerance and appreciation for one another and for the society in which they live. British values are not at this time fully understood or implemented in early years setting which is worrying. However, the British values are a simple concept that is promoted throughout everyday practice. A simple way to display how your setting is promoting sharing and turn taking with children of all ages can be found here (http://www.earlyyearscareers.com/eyc/product/british-values-poster/)
Ways turn taking can be promoted
- Games – Many simple games such as the orchard games can be used with a small number of players and involve turn taking
- Letters and Sounds – Many of the letters and sounds activities involve turn taking and listening to one another. These are fun games that support development in many areas. These should be completed with all preschool children
- Sand Timers – For children who find sharing more difficult a sand timer may be a useful tool in visually showing a child when it is their turn and when it is time to share with another child
- Count Down – During times when there are limited resources and a child is not sat still to see a sand timer such as sharing bikes in the outdoors area, giving a child a few warning when it is coming close to sharing may be useful such as 5 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute.
- Show and tell activities – Allowing each child a turn to talk about something that interests them. This is best done in small groups where turn taking doesn’t take too long.
- Gentle reminders – Reminding children during child initiated play to share and take turns is very effective.