Cooperative Play

Cooperative Play

Chil­dren learn to ‘coop­er­ate’ with other chil­dren in coop­er­a­tive play, and become versed in plan­ning, assign­ing roles and play­ing together to ful­fill com­mon goals.

“One of the most excit­ing devel­op­ments in mod­ern edu­ca­tion goes by the name of coop­er­a­tive (or col­lab­o­ra­tive) learn­ing and has chil­dren work­ing in pairs or small groups.” ~ Alfie Kohn

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Chil­dren belong to a group in coop­er­a­tive play, and play together and inter­act mutu­ally while per­form­ing activ­i­ties. David Shaf­fer argues that two or more chil­dren plan, assign roles and play together with the aim of ful­fill­ing cer­tain com­mon goals in this type of play. Chil­dren learn to ‘coop­er­ate’ with other chil­dren as they per­form activ­i­ties, which enhances the idea of team­work or chil­dren work­ing together towards accom­plish­ing com­mon goals. Terry Orlick says that this stage sur­faces between 3 to 4 years and pro­gresses through the school years.

Amanda Boutot and Matt Tin­cani say that games such as kick­ball, tug of war, or “Heads Up, Seven Up” allow pur­su­ing shared goals. Coop­er­a­tive play is “true social play” since it involves sev­eral of the same oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn and prac­tice var­i­ous social skills pro­vided by turn-taking dur­ing games. Addi­tion­ally, coop­er­a­tive play also pro­vides unique oppor­tu­ni­ties for teach­ing oth­ers vital social skills that may be use­ful later in life. Give your child the oppor­tu­nity to learn and prac­tice the social skills of tack­ling mock­ery, for exam­ple, while inter­act­ing with oth­ers pos­i­tively in ways that are mutu­ally fulfilling.

Boutot, A. & Tin­cani, M. (2009). Autism Ency­clo­pe­dia. USA: Prufrock Press.
Orlick, T. (2006). Coop­er­a­tive Games and Sports. Cham­paign, IL: Human Kinet­ics.
Shaf­fer, D. (2009). Social and Per­son­al­ity Devel­op­ment. Bel­mont, CA: Cen­gage Learning.


Key Concepts

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