Joint Action Routines



Joint attention is important to achieve before joint action routines can be established. Joint attention is when children are able to identify what another person is attending to and their ability to draw another person’s attention toward something of interest to them. Joint attention is pivotal for social, cognitive and language development.


What are joint action routines?


Joint action routines, known as JARs, were developed to support the language development, communication skills, and participation in activities of students with severe impairments. It relies on consistency and reliability of familiar routines that provide cues for the student to acquire new responses or use accepted responses at the appropriate times. The event becomes more meaningful for the child when routines are repeated often. The student gains a sense of control and engages in the cognitive tasks of the activity.


Features of JARS

·        Unifying theme- effective routines are motivating and meaningful to the student

·        Joint Focus- joint attention skills are a prerequisite each participant should attend to the same task for turn taking

·        Roles should be clearly defined so that students are able to speak and act according to their and others roles

·        Routines must be logical, sequential, and predictable

·        Planned variation after mastering the routines so that the student can take someone else’s role



Steps in JARs


1.      Choose a routine that involves two or more people and set it up so that interaction is required between you and the student

2.      Develop a routine and break it up into clearly defined roles

3.      Model all steps and what you want the student to say

4.      Repeat the activity.

5.      Mark all steps in the rountine with a word phrase or sentence.

6.      Be predictable, do not have side conversations, walk away to get something you forgot, or change the way you word a phrase.

7.      Introduce sabotage or planned variation once routine is mastered.


What does it look like?


Say the routine you wanted to establish was reading a book.

You would start by just reading the book. You would continue reading this book until the child knew the story and knew the routine you two had established. Then you could read the story and pause,

waiting for the child to fill in the blank with the correct word. You

could also pause at the end of the page and wait for the child to either turn the page or ask you to turn the page. These interruptions are also called sabotage. They are important for creating spontaneous conversation.


JARs for younger kids


1.      Nursery Rhymes

2.      Reading a familiar book

3.      Getting dressed

4.      Snack time

5.      Hand washing

6.      Ball games

7.      Tag/chase

8.      Blowing bubbles

9.      Building block towers


JARs for older kids


1.      Daily routines

2.      Life skills

3.      Greetings

4.      Board games or card games

5.      Gross motor games


Parallel Play and Solitary Play


JARs can also work for students who engage in solitary play or plays with toys in only one way. This can be done by creating a routine with the use of the child’s toy.  An example:  A child plays with a bottle of bubbles alone.  An adult comes over and sits with the child with the bubble container between them. The adult creates a predictable sequence of taking the cap off of the bottle and dipping the stick and blowing.  The adult says the same thing during each step.  This is repeated many times the exact same way.  Over time pauses are implemented and the child fills in the scripts. Eventually the child learns to become more spontaneous with words and actions.




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