Tuesday, September 27, 2011

{Guest Post} Lessons in Cooperation Help Children Learn to Share

Submitted on behalf of Primrose Schools: day care services and early childhood education by Emily Patterson (@epatt1062)

Learning to cooperate with others is an essential life skill that we typically learn at an early age, and certainly, your children should not be an exception. Because infants are not inherently born with the knowledge of how to successfully cooperate, they will learn through their interactions and experiences with parents, caregivers, and other instrumental people in their life. Beginning to teach your child how to cooperate around age three is ideal.

Sharing and taking turns is one of the first methods of cooperation that most children are exposed to, and over time it becomes a natural function to them. This skill will allow them to form stronger and more enduring connections with their peers. Sharing toys while in group play is a great source of natural instruction, and will help establish a solid foundation for children to build upon concerning building strong cooperation abilities. Additionally, there are hosts of other methods that parents and caregivers can utilise to help children strengthen a child’s character that establishes cooperation, generosity, and compassion as an instinctual response to others.

Family Projects: Including children in family functions are essential to making them feel like they are a part of the big picture. Letting them participate in creating a garden, planning a family trip, or making decisions concerning an outing is a great way to include them in the daily aspects of family life. This helps them learn how working together can achieve common goals more quickly and efficiently, while reaping substantial rewards.

Cooperation Soup: Getting children involved in culinary projects is a unique way to bond with a child while teaching them essential cooperation skills. Find an age appropriate task that they can easily accomplish, and praise them for their contribution to a family meal.

Be a model of cooperative behaviour: As the primary instructor for your child, understand that they will have tendencies to mimic your behaviour. If you are modelling appropriate cooperation skills, then they will be likely to follow. Seeing you in action allows them to see how important it is that they follow suit. Consider a reward-based lesson that exhibits how working together on a task allows free time for more fun and exciting pursuits like a trip to the park.

Make Music: Listen to a piece of music with your child, and then discuss with them how each individual instrument creates an important part of the overall music they hear. Introduce your child to a simple instrument of their own, and then ask the family to record some music as a group. When children hear the completed sound, they can have an even greater understanding of the amazing things that result from cooperation.

Book Club: Reading books to your child about characters that work together to achieve a common goal is a great way to start an open discussion about the benefits and necessity of cooperation. Ask our child how they would react if put in the same situation as the characters in the story. Stone Soup and the Little Red Hen are great examples of this concept, and they are excellent stories to boot.

Editor: I just wanted to thank Emily for sharing these tips with us. It is a timely read for me at the moment as I am having some trouble with Mahli not sharing and snatching things from her brothers!

Do you have any tips for teaching your children to share? What has worked for you?
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