How often has this scenario played out in your classroom? You’ve planned a fantastic lesson that involves students working together and learning together. In your well-crafted plans, the students are engaged in the activities,supporting one another, and growing as a learning activity. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? So why don’t these activities always work out as planned?
Although there may be many factors at play, it could simply be that your children are unable to work together properly because they do not know how to support one another. By using cooperative games,children will become critical thinkers, learn to work with one another, and apply these skills to accomplish team goals.
Cooperative games help children develop the essential skills of cooperation, communication, empathy, and conflict resolutionby giving them an opportunity to work together toward a common goal. These games require the skills of everyone in the group, not of just one or two people. There is no sole winner. All children will benefit since no one is left out and the focus is on the success of the team as a whole. Throughout this process of cooperation, children are critically thinking of their strategiesand making quick decisions, while they are verballyand physicallyinteracting with one another and, therefore, developing their cognitiveabilities. Children learn how individual efforts uniteto help the team accomplish goals. Think about that child in your class who has great ideas, but is not athletic or competitive. How do we address such needs when that student does not want to participate in the competitive aspect of games?
Contrast this with traditional games, in which there is direct competition between individuals or groups as it produces poor self-esteem with those who are on the losing end. Not all children have that competitive edge needed in order to win. This is why you’ll see why cooperative games can play such a big role in teaching and reinforcing peacemaking skills.