learning to take turns

How to Steal a March #5: Kids Social Skills Give An Advantage Over Academics

Whenever we think of success at school, we assume that academics is most important, but did you know kids social skills give an advantage over academics? Research is showing us that kids who cope with the social challenges of school are the ones who experience success.

friendship skills for kids

When we think about social skills vs academics it’s maybe not so surprising. Kids need the confidence to ask questions and seek help, the skills to work with others and share talents, the resilience to bounce back after failures, and the perseverance to keep going. We can start the for all of these long before kids get to school.

Young children do not come with social skills in their brain backpacks. Helping them learn positive ways to interact with others is a huge challenge for parents, teachers, and caregivers. Three basic skills for kids are learning to share, to take turns, and to wait. These are easier for some than for others so we may need to try different ways to support them.taking turns social skill

When it comes to sharing, it’s so funny to see toddlers offer us a bite of something only to take it back. They have only figured out part of the process as they build on our example. Acknowledging a child’s effort is also important. “I see you are sharing,” is a simple comment that echoes deep. Books and stories are a valuable resource. The brain is hard-wired for stories and seems to absorb the message. We need to remember to give kids the words to use and this is one way. When kids play with others, there are many opportunities to share and to learn to ask others to share with them.

Taking turns is a critical part of building relationships. Many games and activities give kids practice at taking turns. We also need to provide the words and example for asking others to give us a turn. “Please wait, I’m not done my turn.” can help kids as they interact with playmates.social skills for kindergarten

Learning to wait is more than being patient. It involves attention and focus, and being able to keep going while waiting for the payoff or reward. Having a few strategies is really helpful. When we are waiting in line at the bank, for example, we can sing songs together or tell stories. The game I Spy is great for filling minutes when waiting. You might want to choose a color and think of as many items of that color as possible. Decide on a shape and count the number of things of that shape.

To “steal a march on someone” is to have an advantage over them and kids social skills give an advantage over academics. Will your child’s day have some social fun and play?

Kindergarten Readiness – Whose Turn?

I played a baby game earlier this week that I remember playing with my grandfather. When I put my hand on top of his he would slide it out and put it on top of mine. Then I would slide mine out and put it on top of his again. At some point we used all 4 hands going faster and faster until one of us got out of sequence. The giggles and shining eyes of the little one playing with me triggered my memories.
This ‘your hand, my hand’ switching is a very early game to teach taking turns. Children younger than 2 years old  love this game and can play the 1-hand each version. Older children can handle (pardon the pun) using both their hands. For even more fun, try it with 2 or 3 people but be prepared for the concentration and focus needed!
Just rolling or tossing a ball back and forth to each other helps children learn to take turns. For older kids card games and dice are great activities to practice taking turns. To keep 1 or 2 or more kids busy, while you are trying to do something in the kitchen, give them each a plastic bowl. Put some Cheerios in another bowl. One child shakes a dice and counts out that number of Cheerios to put in his/her bowl. Then, the next child takes a turn. Children can eat their O’s while waiting for their turn to come around again, giving them something to do. It’s also good math practice at the same time that children learn this important relationship skill. Plus, it’s quite amazing how long they will play for a few Cheerios–dry, as well. You may have time to get something done! ( P.S. A minute timer makes life a lot easier for parents and caregivers. ) Your turn…

Kindergarten Readiness- Taking Turns & Tell a Story

The first part of May, this blog has been presenting some strategies for helping children develop some social and emotional skills so that kids can function as members of any group, be it preschool, on the playground or at daycare or school. The topic for today is taking turns. Kids hear lots of reminders to take turns and sometimes just tune us out. A story is one way of communicating the same message and increasing the chances of their tuning in. An oral story is an alternative format to books. With some body visuals and acting out the parts it appeals to children of all three learning styles. This story is just a starter to encourage you to create your own.

Once upon a time, there was a group of animals on the farm: a cow, a pig, a horse and a goat. The farmer fed them every morning in the field in front of the barn. Well, he tried to feed them. The cow said she should be first because she gave milk for the children. The horse said no, first place was his because he could run the fastest. The goat said he was going to be first or the rest of them would feel his horns. The pig  just grunted and played in the mud. The cow and the horse and the goat argued so much about who should be first that they didn’t see the pig gobbling up all the food.  After all, he was the pig. The cow and the horse and the goat had to find some grass or just be hungry. Every day the same thing happened. The cow and the horse and the goat just argued and the pig just ate. One morning, the cow and the horse and the goat were too hungry to argue.   A sheep said “Too baaad you don’t take turns.”  Now, the pig  knew if the other animals took turns he would have to share. So, he quickly said, “One day, I will be first, then cow can be second. The next day, I can be first and horse can be second. Then, I will be first and goat will be second.”  The other animals were not quite as clever as pig and liked the idea of taking turns, so they agreed. But who was always first? Pig. After all, he is the pig. (©Barbara Allisen, 2010)

Younger children may not catch on to the pig’s trick until they act it out with some play animals or with other kids but the humor and the fun reinforce the message of taking turns. This is an essential skill to help children learn for positive relationships.

Kindergarten Readiness – This is the Way We Take Turns

Taking turns requires several behaviors on the part of the child. First and foremost are self-regulation and impulse control.  Being able to wait is another skill. The child often needs to listen and watch for clues that signal the end of the other person’s turn. The child who is having a turn may be the star … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – This is the Way We Take Turns

Kindergarten Readiness – Taking Turns

Why does having a turn seem so important and desirable when one is little and the opposite for grown-ups? I wouldn’t mind giving up my turn for countless activities like laundry and meals.  Nevertheless, children need to learn to take turns and have opportunities to develop and practice this skill.  Being able to take turns … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Taking Turns