Teach Your Kids to Take Turns

Let’s talk about teaching your kids to take turns as a kindergarten readiness skill. It is really common to practice skills like sharing when our kids are preschoolers and toddlers. A lot of times sharing doesn’t make sense because it isn’t a skill that translates to adulthood. We are not asked to share personal items as adults. But we are asked to share and take turns with public items (the road, parks, shopping carts) and that also happens a lot in the classroom, especially elementary classrooms.
Taking Turns
We work a lot on taking turns because it is more practical as well as an easier concept understand than sharing. Every toddler will at some point engage in typical toddler behavior and will want a toy simply because someone else has it. This is an opportunity to teach about taking turns. The child who had the toy first gets to play first and when they are done, the second child gets a turn.
Even when Derek was just a few months old and didn’t care which toy he played with, I would require Reagan to let him take a turn with the toys because Reagan understood, and I was working on teaching her that she has to take turns. I even do this when she and I are playing. If we’re playing dress-up and I’m wearing the crown after she put on the hard hat, I do not give her the crown as soon as she asks for it. I make her wait a little bit until I am done with it and then she can have a turn.
Sharing is a harder concept than taking turns, but it can still be taught. Start by teaching to share objects that you have more than one of. A train table is a great example; there is one table, but there are multiple trains that can be played with. Food/snack is another item that can be shared easily because we always have a million goldfish on hand.We have a ton of toy cars. So when we play with our toy cars, I require Reagan to choose one that her brother Derek can play with. For now, this works because D doesn’t care which toy he plays with as long as he plays with a toy, but if you have two (or more) kids that both have there own wants, try the strategy of allowing one child to divide and the other child picks first. For example, if two children are sharing a cookie, Child 1 breaks the cookie in half and Child 2 picks his half first.
Go Out in Public
This one might seem a little counterintuitive. Nobody wants to go out in public when their child is a little jerk that doesn’t want to share, but it is in public where a child will learn the need for sharing and taking turns. If you take your child to a playground or museum, you will be given multiple opportunities to engage in real-world scenarios where you have to take turns because public spaces are shared spaces. Use these opportunities to talk with your child about the need for taking turns.
Sharing and Taking Turns Vocabulary
One of our greatest fears about teaching children to take turns and share is the dreaded tantrum that will ensue. Nobody wants to deal with a toddler who’s screaming because they want their toy. This is why it’s important to teach our preschoolers how to express themselves in regards to sharing and taking turns.
Teach them to say phrases like:
  • Can I have a turn
  • Can we play with those together
  • You can have a turn when I’m done
  • Will you share with me
Our preschoolers are much less likely to be upset if they know that they will get a turn soon.
Games, especially boardgames, inherently require kids to take turns. Games only work if everybody takes turns to be part of the game. So, for those of you who have preschoolers and kindergartners, start a family game night tradition. This will be good for everyone in the family and you’ll get the bonus of teaching your preschooler about taking turns in a way that is pure fun.
Teach your Kid to Take Turns and Kindergarten Readiness

Teaching kids to take turns is an aspect of kindergarten readiness that isn’t talked about enough.

Read more about social skills needed for kindergarten here

Read more about academic skills needed for kindergarten here


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by emily lawson