98. Cooperative play

As children approach school age they begin to participate in cooperative play. This is the final stage of the six stages of play and the most sophisticated.

It’s the kind of play you get when children play together, assigning roles and agreeing the rules of the game, however arbitrary they may be.

You will find cooperative play in the home corner, where all kinds of sociodramatic play takes place, but it’s also a feature of playground games such as stuck in the mud.

cooperative play is the highest form of play

Cooperative play is what many of us might call ‘playing nicely.’ It’s a phase of play that sees children begin to share and take turns with each other. But it’s about so much more than good manners. Cooperative play develops negotiating skills and encourages children to think strategically about how to achieve an outcome that pleases everyone. It requires teamwork to succeed. Collaborative play asks a lot of your young toddler, who is naturally impulsive and often wants things immediately.

Here are some tips for encouraging collaborative play:

Sharing: lead by example and share with your child, split a biscuit in half or a share out the segments of an orange. Praise them when they do the same.

Taking Turns: play games that help them understand turn-taking. Start with rolling ball, or singing a song or saying a rhyme, and leave a space for them to fill in the gaps.This way they know things don’t stop or disappear when they aren’t doing them.

Teamwork: promote co-operative behaviour by picking up toys together or washing up together.

Negotiating: Model negotiation by asking your child for something of theirs in exchange for something you have. This can be as simple as swapping one toy for another, or a piece of fruit for a lump of cheese.

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