Welcome to Day Five of the Ready for Kindergarten: 30 Days of Activities, Ideas, and Learning Fun series here on Chasing Supermom.
Today, I’m touching on one of the behavioral skills that I think is essential to success in the classroom (and in life!) Most books that discuss kindergarten readiness focus solely on academic skills. As a kindergarten teacher, I found it much easier to help a child who was struggling or behind in reading or math than it was to deal with a child who had difficulties interacting with the other students.
Every time a teacher has to stop a lesson to re-direct a student who is misbehaving is valuable class time lost. Today’s ideas will help your child develop some of the skills needed to work and play cooperatively with other kids in the classroom.
Yes, today we are talking about turn-taking.
1. Family Game Night
Sit down and play a game as a family. Play with as many members of your family as possible. Waiting for a turn in a 2 player game of Candy Land takes about 4 seconds. Waiting for a turn in a 4 player game of a slightly more complex game ups the wait time and helps your child develop patience, and turn-taking.
I love games as a vehicle for turn-taking, as it involves so much more than waiting. Turn-taking includes the element of contribution. Every person involved matters.
Try choosing a game with a bit more complexity than simply drawing a card or spinning a spinner. (This will also help develop following 1 and 2 step directions, listening, rule-following, and perseverance! Yay for games!)
Here are a few of my favorite family games that kindergartners can play with little to “some” direction.
2. Build a Story
This is a great activity and not only supports turn-taking and contribution, but creativity as well! (Plus, I’m kind of a sucker for anything that encourages writing/story-telling!)
As a family, sit down in a place without a lot of distractions (ie-turn the tv off) and build a story together. Have one person in the family start by sharing a sentence or two. The next person in the family adds onto those sentences, continuing the story.
Person 1 – Once upon a time there was a magic unicorn. Her name was Isabelle. She met a new friend named….
Person 2 – Captain Tiki! Captain Tiki was a lovable talking parrot who liked to sing. One day, Isabelle and Captain Tiki…
Person 3- went on a date. They went to New York and Menchies.
The above example was created by myself, my 7 year old and my 5 year old. It’s great to lead the next participant (especially if it’s your pre-kindergartner into an easy answer.)
Have someone in the family write the story down as you go along. Have each person take 3 or 4 turns, extending the story each time. These stories are fun and often very silly. Children learn that they are valuable contributors but are also reminded that so is everyone else. (This is a tough lesson for some kids!) Everyone has a role to play, and everyone has great words to say. (That may be the kindergarten teacher talking…) =)
3. Relay Races
Relay races are a great way to help teach turn-taking, as the waiting is very tangible, as is the contribution. Using a physical activity to teach turn-taking is also great to help curb a few impulse issues. Very active kids will find waiting their turn in an outdoor or high-energy setting to be more difficult. Lots of kindergarten activities will be high-energy and outdoors, so this is great practice! (Plus, it’s fun and gets everyone off the couch!)
If you don’t want to go old-school and pass a baton around your local high-school track (which is honestly a great option in the summer, for running and biking too!), set up an obstacle type course in the backyard. Run through cones, dribble a soccer ball, score a basket, and then race to the finish line with a beanbag on your head. Be creative and use the outdoor/game supplies you have. If you don’t have a lot of sports equipment, have each player use several different movements, such as running, jumping, crab-walking, etc.
Encourage your pre-kindergartner to cheer on the other contributors and acknowledge their efforts. Celebrate their turn as well! In turn-taking, everyone’s turn counts! We want to raise kids who are willing to wait their turn, but who are also willing and eager to take them! We want our kids to know that participation is FUN….much more fun than the sidelines!
Have everyone in the family participate in cooking a meal or snack together. Divide up the steps in the recipe, and take turns adding ingredients, stirring, etc. This is a great turn-taking activity as it is typically very high-interest for young kids and boosts math skills as well!
This allows for some great conversation about turn-taking as well. (Ie- “Hannah has the eggs and the baking soda. What would happen if we didn’t let her take her turns?” etc.) Cooking really demonstrates that everyone is important and everyone needs to do their job for things to run smoothly.
If you have other great ideas for turn-taking, leave them in the comments! Have fun playing and learning with your child this summer, and thank you for taking the time to develop the behavior skills that are vital to a successful and healthy kindergarten classroom.
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