While it is really important for children to be able to take turns and share when they are in school, this skill comes much more naturally to some children than to others. Here are some tips that can help you to encourage children to develop sharing skills in a child care environment.
Babies and young toddlers
Babies and young toddlers do not understand the principle of sharing as they cannot distinguish between themselves and others. The best way to help babies learn to share is by modelling appropriate behaviours (such as sharing between adults) and helping to 'share' items with them. It is also a good idea to leave a gap in the conversation for the child's response when you talk to them, even before the children are properly talking, so that they can start to observe the natural rhythms of language and conversation.
Older toddlers can often benefit from physical tools that help to work out the sharing process, including a 'talking' toy that helps to show who is allowed to talk at any time and timers that can be set to allow each child to have a turn with a particularly popular toy or piece of equipment. You can also try reading some stories and acting out scenarios that involved someone not having their turn, which can help them to consider other people's feelings. However, it's likely that no matter what you do, the children will still need to be supervised and redirected when they do the wrong thing.
Preschoolers can start to redirect themselves and make their own rules when it comes to sharing. It can be a good idea to get them to help to contribute some of the class rules about sharing so that they can start to monitor as a group. They can also make some suggestions, such as correctly labelling personal resources to make it easier for people to know which items are their items and which belong to other children. Children in this age group tend to be slowly developing self-regulation skills but can still struggle with sharing if they are tired, stressed or unwell. It can be a good idea to keep an extra eye on them in these situations so you can provide gentle redirection as required.
If you care for young children in an early learning environment, it is a great idea to help them develop sharing skills to maximise their learning success.