Friday, March 03, 2017

How to Teach Turn Taking Skills to Kids

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Taking turns is such an important social skill to master. We use it in everyday conversations, while waiting in line to purchase something at the store, when playing games, etc. Like many social skills though, kids with autism and/or hyperlexia need to be taught these skills directly as they do not develop them innately.

Here are 8 strategies for teaching your kids turn taking skills, including free printable visual turn taking cue cards and a free printable cheat sheet.

How to teach turn taking skills to kids from And Next Comes L

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Strategies for Teaching Your Kids Turn Taking Skills

There are so many opportunities throughout the day to work on turn taking skills, so you will find that these strategies are quite easy to implement.

1. Use a visual cue to indicate whose turn it is

For kids with autism and/or hyperlexia, visual cues are extremely important. You can use any kind of item you'd like as a visual cue and pass it from player to player as it is their turn. Something like a talking stick would work, but can be as simple as handing the dice or spinner to whoever's turn is next. You can download a set of free printable visual cue cards under tip #2.

2. Use turn taking language (my turn, your turn)

Actually say the phrases "my turn" and "your turn" on the appropriate turns so that your child will know exactly who's turn it is. Related to tip #1, you can use visual cues to reinforce this language. In fact, I've included a free printable my turn/your turn visual cue cards to download and print. As an alternative, you can try these visual pointing hands cards from Every Star is Different.

Free printable visual turn taking cue cards for kids from And Next Comes L

3. Model turn taking

Modeling is such an effective way to teach turn taking skills! Kids always pay more attention to how we act or what we do versus what we say anyway, right? Show your child how you are taking turns when holding a conversation with someone or while playing a game.

4. Play games

Board games and card games are one of the best ways to work on turn taking skills! Here are some of our favorite board games from a couple of years ago. However, my kids are a bit older now so they currently enjoy the following games:

I also like to incorporate games that challenge the stereotypical way of taking turns. Specifically, games that can randomly switch the order of the turns part way through the game like Uno or games that allow you to skip turns or force another player to take two turns like Exploding Kittens.

You might find it helpful to start a family game night to focus on helping your child work on their turn taking skills. We personally like to try and play two or three board games every night after supper.

5. Use a social story to explain why and how to take turns

Social stories are such a great way to work on a variety of social skill concepts. You can either write your own social story about taking turns or look for example stories on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers. The social story should include expected and unexpected behavior when taking turns with others. It should also include the turn taking language mentioned in tip #2 (my turn/your turn). Read through the social story together before engaging in an activity or game that requires the child to take turns.

6. Use a timer to indicate how long each turn will be

We use this technique a lot when it comes to sharing electronic devices like my iPad. We set a timer for five minutes and when the time is up, it is time to pass the device to the next person. You can certainly use a timer for any kind of activity or game that requires kids to take turns.

A timer is also a good way to reinforce being fair and letting everyone have an equal chance to play with something since each person will receive the exact same amount of time. Furthermore, a timer acts as a visual and auditory cues for turn taking with kids.

7. Communicating and describing turns (first it is A's turn, then it is yours)

Be sure to outline or describe how the turn taking will occur. For instance, if you are going to use a timer, then tell the kids that each person will get exactly five minute turns. Or if multiple people will be taking turns with something, then be sure to explain who's turn is first, second, third, etc. You can phrase it like "First it is person A's turn, then it will be your turn."

8. Use a fidget between turns

Many kids struggle with waiting for their turn. I know my son always moves and fidgets when he waits for his turn in a game. You might find that providing a fidget for your child to use when it is not their turn can be quiet helpful. It gives them something to do while they wait.

Free printable turn taking strategies list from And Next Comes L

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