Working on group projects. Getting along with siblings. That’s cooperation, right? Not necessarily. What does it really mean to CO-operate, and how can you help children achieve it? More importantly, why do we need to teach such a skill?
What is cooperation? It is “the act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit; joint action.”
How can we help kids really cooperate with each other, and with adults, at school and at home? Often, kids shy away from group projects or tasks because they have less control over the end product. It’s important that they know that assessment of cooperative learning activities or group tasks will be done as a group AND as an individual. That way kids know that their contribution matters and is being considered. Parents and teachers should consider the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and assign tasks where there is balance, allowing each participant to shine. Strategies should be in place for conflicts that come up. Tasks should be assigned that matter and have real-world impact.
What’s the point of teaching cooperation? Group projects aren’t always kids’ favorite, but learning to tackle them in a positive way really can be a great skill to acquire. Kids who learn to socialize and work well together develop better interpersonal relationships and often have an edge later in life when it comes time to interview for college scholarships or career opportunities. Work promotions can be made or broken by how well a candidate is able to lead as well as take direction in a group setting. It’s never too early to help kids become good collaborators.