The Edvocate’s Guide to Cooperative Play

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Cooperative play is defined as being an organized form of activity that involves the equal distribution of efforts and responsibilities among the kids to reach a common objective. Understanding the cooperative play definition, many people see these activities as being essential in development through childhood.

It’s good for kids to spend time working with others, so they develop essential social skills as they matriculate through nursery and school.

An example of cooperative play games can involve building dens and putting on performances using a stage with props. Learning experiences like these encourage kids to share ideas, collaborate and come up with stories. They can integrate independent learning, which is another vital part of early childhood development.

Playing is a good tool for helping kids learn at such a young age. That’s because playing combines fun and education, which young kids need to pay attention and leave learning something new. Playing develops their physical, mental, social, and emotional skills which are vital at this point.

During this kind of play, roles like leader and follower are clearer to see among the class. Cooperative play enables those who suit a specific role to build upon it, while giving them a chance to experience the other role and comprehend what it involves. It is a vital part of kid development during nursery and school.

Games can involve as few as two kids up to bigger groups of five or more. Cooperative play is all about encouraging kids to have fun together and improve their cooperation skills.

Cooperative Play Examples

Below you will find a few cooperative play examples you can encourage kids to try at your school:

  • Treasure Hunt
  • Puzzles
  • Building Dens
  • Relay Races
  • Team Games
  • Creating a Dance
  • Board Games

The preceding activities encourage kids to play together and collaborate on a specific task. Kids should start to learn how to interact with others, follow instructions and prepare themselves for the next stages of schooling.

Pros of Cooperative Play

Cooperative play offers several benefits to those who engage with the activities that are presented to them. These benefits include:

  • Expansion of physical, social, mental, and emotional skills
  • Speaking and listening skills are built upon
  • Teambuilding
  • Leadership
  • Making  use of various  skills
  • Distribution of ideas and responsibilities
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaborating to reach a common objective
  • The idea of everyone being “winners”

The key thing to remember when it comes to these types of cooperative play is how everyone is a “winner.” Cooperative play doesn’t have a way for kids to “win” the challenge set for them. Kids should like the facet of competition and may try and turn it into one. During this, many kids who fail the task set for them may think of themselves as “losers.”

The task requires collaboration teamwork, and instead of trying to win something, kids are trying to solve a problem and must collaborate. The key difference being you can’t lose at the task, so try and dissuade the mentality that some of the kids may have while completing this activity.  Kids learn that it’s not always about winning and losing but working as a team.

Playing Cooperatively in Early Years

Cooperative skills are essential in the later years, but I would argue that it’s equally essential during early childhood. Early childhood is a time the brain is developing at its most efficient rate, and so teaching kids the importance of collaboration through play is a good method to allow the learning to be absorbed into their minds.

Simple activities can be integrated into the mindset of the students with no problem. Cooperative play teaches essential ideas like sharing, abiding by rules, and patience. Teaching these concepts through a game at such a young age should also benefit the children in the future.

Communication Skills on the Playground

Cooperation requires a sense of communication for it to be effectively carried out. During early childhood, this can be hard for young kids as communication is a skill that is built upon via previous experiences. By performing cooperative tasks, communicating becomes easier.

Strong comprehension of how to talk to people in challenging situations or how to settle conflict can be taught through simple activities.  Kids need to encounter these kinds of issues during play to develop. They help build knowledge of effective communication and improve their fundamental comprehension.

Other activities may offer the benefit of developing communication skills, but cooperative activities put the kids in situations that apply to everyday life.

How Do You Promote Cooperative Play?

Below we have listed several ideas you can use to promote cooperative play with your own kids or with school and nursery pupils.

  • Promote taking turns – Kids should learn to share toys and games with others, ensuring everyone gets a fair turn using a piece of equipment.
  • Complete chores and tasks at home – Get kids involved in easy jobs with parents or siblings like cleaning up or setting the table for dinner.
  • Model compassion  – Kids learn from the behavior of adults. If you practice kindness and empathy in their presence, they are more likely to take on these characteristics.
  • Encourage free play – Having the freedom to engage in unstructured play is a good way for kids to interact with others.

Cooperative Play Learning Experiences

At first, constructing activities can be a bit of a challenge for someone who doesn’t know what to do. Here are a few cooperative play activities for toddlers and kids that we recommend you try and integrate into your teaching somehow.

A good place to start with cooperative games is building blocks. Ask groups of children to construct a building from blocks.  Here is the catch. One-half of the group are the suppliers of the blocks, and the other half are the actual builders. You are encouraging kids to take turns and cooperate with each other to finish the job with no problems.

A good activity to get kids involved with is running a pretend shop. This is a role-play based activity, so kids can also work on their imaginative thinking, along with social and logical thinking. Provide each kid with a different role in the game and leave them working together to run the shop for a while. Each role in these collaborative games should connect with one another, causing social interactions to happen. Also, there are plenty of outdoor play activities for kids that you can integrate into P.E. time at your school.

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