As children make their way through early childhood, they begin to develop conversation skills. For children to effectively participate in social communications with family and their peers, turn-taking is an important skill to develop. When we use language to have conversations, we are essentially taking turns between communication partners. One great way to provide language opportunities and learn appropriate play skills for children is to use turn-taking games. These can be as simple as playing Peek-a-Boo, to something more structured like Connect4 or Candyland.
For toddlers, games like stacking blocks, playing, ball, or turning the pages of a book can all be used to teach turn taking. Parents can model turn-taking during play time with children and also add language like “mommy’s turn” or using pronouns such as “my” and “your”. Here are some examples of great toys and books to use to practice turn-taking with your child.
BLOCKS, BLOCKS, AND TURN-TAKING
The easiest way to use blocks to teach and practice turn-taking is to take turns with your little one while stacking the blocks. You can start by handing a child a block and narrating by saying ‘your turn’ and then you take a turn stacking and narrating saying ‘my turn’. Once you’ve narrated enough exchanges you can test your kiddo’s turn-taking comprehension by asking ‘Whose turn is it?’. Give them an opportunity to point or verbalize whose turn it is. If your kiddo still needs support you can even help them point while also narrating whose turn it is.
BOOKS AND TURN- TAKING
Books are another great way to practice and teach turn-taking. Each page is an opportunity for communication and taking turns turning the pages of the book. You can narrate ‘your turn’ and ‘my turn’ while reading together too!
TURN- TAKING AND POP THE PIG
For school-aged children and children who can attend longer, using a game like Pop the Pig is a great way to practice turn taking. It’s also a great way to start linking that turn-taking skill to the way we take turns in conversations. Kids that are in school will be encountering more social situations where appropriate conversational skills will be imperative. I like to use laminated ‘wh-’ sentence starters and hide them under each hamburger game piece, but you can hand craft your own or even simply write starters down on small pieces of paper. Before you get to feed the pig you have to use ‘who, what, when, where, why, or comment’ to ask your conversation partner a question or make a comment on something they said. As you take turns asking questions and commenting while playing you are also modeling an appropriate conversation!