Learning how to take turns is very important. Besides learning patience – which is in short supply these days – taking turns also teaches you communication skills, how to listen, even how to negotiate and compromise. This post is a follow up of our “Teaching Kids to Take Turns” post.
Deciding who goes first:
Sometimes even simply deciding who gets to go first while taking turns can be a big hurdle to cooperative play. It is easy as the adult to be accused of favoritism and feelings can be easily hurt. Here are a few ways to choose who goes first.
For a small group – Play a quick game of rock-paper-scissors, or choose a number between one and 10 (but make sure you write it down!) – the person guessing closest gets to go first. Alternating who goes first for each new activity is also another good option.
For a larger group – When teaching turn-taking skills it is very important to make sure there is enough time for everyone to get a turn in every activity (which might take some pre-planning). If not, kids will learn that they have to always try and be first or they may miss out.
If you take turns alphabetically, make sure you start at the end or the middle of the list once in a while. As someone whose last name starts with a W, I can attest that it is no fun to always go last!
With a larger group, drawing names out of a hat or basket works well. Just have the kids take their turn as their name is called. This works especially well in a classroom setting, and can be reused over and over.
Teaching turn taking to children:
If you only have one child, it is natural to allow them to always go first, but this can cause some conflict as they get older and start interacting with other children. Start at a very young age and practice taking turn with parents, friends and even stuffed animals. You can introduce turn taking through telling Adventure Stories, playing make-believe, or putting on a puppet show. Whenever you use an activity like these to teach a lesson, make sure you follow-up with a discussion or activity to reinforce the lesson of turn taking. You might have your child invent a game that involves taking turns, or tell their own story about turn-taking.
Stories for Taking Turns:
There are several great books out there that deal with the topic of taking turns. You may want to check out the library or buy books that deal with sharing. It’s a common enough topic for kids, and there are plenty to choose from. I particularly enjoy the Learning to Get Along series by Cheri J. Meiners:
Games like Sketch Art Detective allow for natural turn taking. Any game that requires people to work in turns are good for teaching turn-taking.
If you have the opportunity to get involved in Theater Sports, do so! Theater sports are a fantastic way to get older children and teens involved in cooperative activity that not only teaches turn-taking, but also teaches how valuable it is to be able to take turns and work together for the success of the entire group.
Many Theater sports groups not only put on some great shows but also offer workshops and classes. The Vancouver Theater Sports League in Vancouver BC, and the Blue Door Theater Company in Spokane WA are two great options if you happen to live in those areas, and I know there are plenty more out there!
The very best way to teach turn taking, regardless of the age of your child is, in my opinion, to model good turn-taking behavior. You have an opportunity to do this every day. You can engage in family activities that require you to take turns, you can model patience when you have to wait in line for your turn. When you are in conversation with your kids you can employ active listening techniques and show how important it is to communication that you take turns both speaking AND listening.
I hope you will find some of these ideas useful, how did you teach turn-taking to your kids? Please share your ideas with us in the comment section!