Getting along with others and learning how to collaborate are important life skills, and it's never too early to learn. We all want our children to be happy, and are hopeful they will make friends and be included during playtime. As both an educator and a parent, I was uniquely aware of how children create situations and activities that foster positive social relationships. However, nothing can be more heartbreaking than seeing a child who struggles with this ability.
Developing positive relationships in childhood is a predictor of success in school and later in life. Learning to cooperate and collaborate helps children build social-emotional skills such as self-confidence, social awareness, and the ability to take risks. One way to help your child learn how to collaborate is through playing games together. There are many games available for every age and ability that help build these skills that are fun to play, too! Here's a list of 10 tried-and-true favorites:
Puzzles are a great way to learn about taking turns and solving problems together. Work with your child on which pieces go where, ask each other for help, and encourage your child to try pieces in different positions.
2. Build It
Get out blocks, clay, and recycling materials. Ask your child to help you build something. Discuss what you will build, who will do what, and which materials to use.
3. Hide and Seek
Team up to play this classic game. Children can plan with other family members or friends where they will hide together. When they are found, they determine who will be "it" next.
Using a sheet or a light blanket, work as a group to toss a ball with the parachute. How high can you get it the air without having it fall out of the chute?
5. Keep It Up!
Similar to playing with the parachute, the goal of this game is to have everyone work together to keep a balloon in the air. This can also be played with a light ball. Add another challenge by using two balloons and creating teams. Which team keeps their balloon in the air the longest?
6. Snug as a Bug in a Rug, or Count Your Chickens by Peaceable Kingdom
Children and family members play together to help the bugs hide under the rug before the dreaded stinkbugs get there! In Count Your Chickens, the goal is to bring the chicks into the coop.
7. Snail's Pace Race by Ravensburger
Children work together to help snails win a race. They also learn to take turns, count, and recognize different colors.
8. Family Scavenger Hunt
Hide a few items around the house or outdoors. Give clues to each team on how to find the items. Which team found them all? Children and family members will discuss the clues, help each other, and work together during the search.
9. Body Double
Start with a big piece of paper. Have one child lie down on the paper and another draw an outline around them. Then, the other children or family members can fill in the rest: clothes, features, etc. Take turns drawing bodies or make it a team race. The first team to finish wins!
10. Relay Race
Set up a relay race where teams have to work together passing a ball or beanbag. Your family can work together to create the race path and then play.
While all of these games help teach collaboration and social-emotional skills, most importantly, your child will be engaging with others in playful activity.
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