Let your child develop cooperative play skills at home by participating in activities like art projects, household tasks, building and associative games, dramatic plays and so on. Encourage them to participate in activities that require association with other people for task completion.
As a child grows, they go through different developmental stages that determine their interaction and behaviour with the world. While parents often take quick notes on their child’s physiological and psychological developmental milestones, they must also consider focusing on their social milestones for their overall development. One such social milestone is that a child must reach the cooperative stage of play. Cooperative play not only helps your child foster long-term social development but also learn a number of life skills to move through the world successfully.
What Is Cooperative Play?
Cooperative play is a child’s developmental milestone that encourages them to work with other children to achieve a common goal. In this play, each participant must agree on the rules of the play and organise it accordingly. Considered to be the most complicated stage of the six stages of play by sociologist Mildren Parten, cooperative play is a great technique to teach children about new things, engage in brain-boosting activities and develop their social skills.
Participating in cooperative play is extremely important for every child. When they successfully participate in this type of play, they develop skills that later on help them to collaborate and cooperate with other children at school and in other social settings. Cooperative play is nothing but a form of organised activity that encourages children to work together in activities like building castles, playing games and crafting art to meet a common goal. To make the initiative successful, they must abide by the play rule and without hesitation should distribute roles and responsibilities among themselves.
However, to make your child prepare for the cooperative play stage, it’s important for them to work through the other five stages of play. Each of these stages is meant for developing new social skills.
These five stages are:
- Unoccupied play– It is the very first stage that helps your child experience the world around them with their senses. The baby picking up random objects, chewing them, throwing them, etc. are some examples.
- Solitary play– It is the play when the child plays on their own. This play type allows your child to be self-sufficient and self-entertained.
- Onlooker play– Here the child learns by watching others doing activities. This lets your child learn rules, relationships and different ways of playing.
- Parallel play– In this stage, the child plays near other children without interacting with them. Here, the child is getting ready to play in collaboration with others. In this play type, children mimic others and prepare themselves for cooperative play subconsciously.
- Associative play- Though this stage is very similar to the parallel play stage, here they show interest to play along with others. In this stage, they practise things that they have learnt from the other stages of play. Here, they start interacting with each other without playing in an organised order around a common goal.
Benefits of Cooperative Play
A child, while going through the stage of cooperative play, develops several skills that prepare them for future social challenges. This play type teaches your child how to perform activities together in a group, cope with challenges and setbacks, build healthy and meaningful social relationships and so on. Children who are introduced to cooperative play from an early age understand the difference between cooperation and competition better than the rest. They gradually become good team players and leaders who can handle both wins and setbacks optimistically. Some of the benefits of cooperative play include:
- Refine communication skill
- Develop empathy for everyone
- Learn the value of the trust
- Develop conflict resolution skills
- Learn problem-solving skills
- Develop leadership qualities
- Become a good team player
- Understand the worth of sharing
- Boost self-esteem
- Develop negotiation skills
- Learn the art of following instructions
Activities that Encourage Cooperative Play
Stuck on how to prepare your child to play with others? Check out the following activities that encourage your child to develop cooperative play skills along with other social and cognitive skills important for their overall development.
Involve in Household Tasks
To make your child learn the art of cooperative play, encourage them to participate in your everyday household tasks. The process is simple. While you are busy with your household chores, ask them to join and help you. Involve them in activities like washing, cleaning, folding clothes and setting the table. For children, participating in activities that are generally taken care of by their parents goes beyond mere fun. These activities make them feel grown-up as well as teach them to be kind and caring towards others. Thus, involving your child in your everyday household tasks is a great way to develop their cooperative play and social skills.
Teach Them Turn-Taking Skill
Back-and-forth interactions can be developed in a child from a very early age. Capitalise on their toddler years and make them learn a few motor skills like lifting things, building the blocks and assigning tasks. When played from an early age of 1.5-2yrs, these back-and-forth games help them to develop turn-taking skills. While asking them questions, keep your patience and wait for their answers. Once they have answered, respond properly. This is an activity that reinforces the back-and-forth structure and teaches them to take turns during a conversation. You can also involve them in different board games that promote the concept of turn-taking.
Introduce this turn-taking concept to your child with their regular activities. This will not only help them to develop cooperative play but also perform well in academics and other curriculum activities.
Praise Them for Kind Behaviour
If you are arranging a play meet at your place, never forget to keep an eye on your child’s behaviour. Does your little one share toys with their playmates? If yes, it’s a good sign. Your child is learning the art of sharing and kindness. During such sessions, encourage your little one to pass toys or food to their playmates. Also, never miss the opportunity to praise your child for their kind acts. This will not only motivate them to maintain the level of kindness but also learn the value of cooperation.
Involve in Art Projects
Encourage your child to participate in collaborative art projects at both the classroom and home. This not only engages your child in creative activities but also allows them to understand the value of cooperation and collaboration. Finger painting an art mural and painting a branch are some other art projects that can bring children together and teach social skills. As most of these activities are fun, children would love to participate in such activities while developing their cooperative play skills.
Develop Learning through Dramatic Play
To make your child teach cooperative play, encourage them to participate in dramatic plays in small groups. Role-playing is a great way to develop self-esteem, confidence and empathy in kids. Let them make meals together at their play kitchen or play the role of doctor-patient in small groups or pairs. Participation in such dramatic play activities motivates them to learn turn-taking and other social skills. Role-playing also helps your child improve their physical abilities, creativity and communication skills. Mimicking and enacting real-life scenarios or occupations allow them to express their personality and explore different emotions.
Introduce Them to Different games
Games play a crucial role in promoting different developmental skills in children, including collaborative play. So, if you are looking for an effective yet interesting way to introduce cooperative play before your child, consider involving them in puzzle games, stacking things, ball games, and so on.
To make the puzzle games more interesting, introduce them to themed puzzles. Apart from making them learn the value of collaboration, these games are great for developing their motor skills and brainstorming.
Introduce Music sessions
Creating and singing a song together is a great collaborative initiative that can help children tune with each other. Thus, if you are arranging a playdate, assign each child with an instrument and encourage them to rhyme and sing together. In classrooms, teachers can switch the instruments periodically so that no one feels left out and can explore their musical sense with different instruments. Children love musical sounds and thus, this activity will gradually help them learn teamwork.
Encourage to Build Together
In collaborative play, building together is a great activity that brings children close to each other. Encourage your child to build sandcastles or towers with the help of their classmates or playmates. Building projects require negotiation and teamwork. Thus, by allowing your child to participate in such fun projects, you not only introduce them to collaborative play but also develop their communication, gross motor and other social skills. Building a variety of structures with blocks, bricks and clay allows them to explore their own creativity as well.
Cooperative play represents your child’s ability to work together with other kids to meet a common goal. It plays a vital role in developing your little one’s self-esteem and confidence that is essential for an individual’s personal, academic and professional growth. Indeed, the benefits of cooperative or collaborative play are immense. Thus, to ensure the overall development of children, introduce them to this play type from a very young age.