Taking turns is a bit harder than we realize at first. When you think about the steps necessary to take turns, it requires skills in social language, self-regulation, flexibility, and collaboration. As we teach students to take turns, we need to incorporate more than just “my turn, your turn.” To take turns you have to wait. We have to help them learn how to wait, which is a very challenging task for adults as well. If we can teach them to wait well, we have provided them with an extremely important life skill.
Taking turns requires layers of social language that many of out kids do not automatically initiate. With Video Stories, we can wrap many different layers of social language into the lesson– asking for a turn in various ways, negotiating when and how that turn will take place, complimenting the other players on their skills, commenting on the game or another topic, asking questions about the game, telling what you’ll do while you’re waiting, and thanking the other person for giving you a turn.
Kids who know how to take turns understand that waiting is not just a static, boring time for doing nothing. Waiting has a variety of different options; You can observe the strategy of the other players, you can say something encouraging, you can comment on the game or ask questions, you can play a finger game, you can set a timer, or you can decide to do something different until it is your turn again. To develop the social skill of waiting, we need to help our students become very familiar with their waiting options and well-practiced in choosing an option and carrying it out independently. In order to facilitate the organization of choices we may present various waiting options with symbol cards or a visual checklist. By doing so we provide some structure to an otherwise unstructured down time. Then in the Video Story, we show how the student can use the structure, making a choice and acting on it with grace and composure.
Waiting may also be a cue for self-regulation. Since waiting may trigger some negative emotions, we can be proactive by connecting the concept of waiting with some calming strategies, such as deep-breathing, hand massages, or wiggling your toes. For those who need to be always busy, let’s plan for wait times with a pocket activity like Sudoku puzzles, a miniature toy, or a small notebook for doodles or lists. Those who benefit from some sensory feedback could use a tiny bean bag, squishy toy or koosh ball. Our students may not yet be able to recognize what tools they could use that would help them wait, so we may need to explore that with them and help them discover their own strategies. Then we must make sure they become their own advocates, ensuring that they are able to ask for the tools that help them stay calm. We can do this by providing a visual of their calming strategies and making sure they always have access to that means of communicating their needs. We can create separate Video Story with the focus of helping them become their own advocate, and other Video Stories about using their calming strategies in different situations.
As you’re making your Video Story, take some time to think about where your students are in their turn-taking development, and ask yourself how you can incorporate a few extra layers of language, waiting options, or self-regulation techniques into their waiting repertoire.