Turn-Taking Is Not An Important Skill...Said No Teacher Ever!

Teachers always talk about the importance of teaching turn-taking to children. Should so much importance be placed on this? Well, let’s think about some ways adults take turns throughout a typical day: conversing with one 
another, waiting in a grocery store line to check-out, finding a parking space…and the list goes on. As it turns out, learning how to take turns is very important, but don't children naturally learn this? Not really. Turn-taking is a skill that does not come natural to all children and needs to be formally taught. Try out some of these ideas to help your child learn this vital skill:

Start using the words “My Turn” and “Your Turn” during everyday activities.
Play simple cause and effect games or board games to promote turn-taking.
Use a timer to help visually prompt children when their turn is over or to help them understand how long they have to wait until it is their turn again.
Use a metal brad and cut out an arrow to make a spinner. Attach them to a piece of paper and tape or Velcro a photo of the individuals who will take turns. Have your child move the arrow to show whose turn it is.
Write “It’s my turn” on a piece of paper or “My Turn” on a wooden block. The person whose turn it is holds the card or block while they take their turn. When that person’s turn is over, they hand it to the next person.
Write down on a piece of paper the names of each individual participating in an activity in the order that they will take turns. If your child needs extra support, allow them to clip a clothespin next to the person’s name who is taking his/her turn. Your child can keep moving it along as others take their turn.
Add turn-taking into playtime. Take turns adding blocks to a tower or pushing a train around the tracks. Take turns playing a musical instrument or turning the pages in a book.
Take time to teach your child how to wait. Then, acknowledge and congratulate your child when he/she waits for a turn. Write “Wait” on a small square piece of paper to serve as a picture card to visually support your child during his/her waiting time.

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    Melissa Ames
    Melissa Ames

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