When evaluating a childcare options, socialization is one of the top considerations. To cover the benefits and the steps to successful cooperative play we’ve invited Andrea Gibbs to share a guest post with Village Childcare. Andrea is a work-at-home mom with a background in business development, strategy, and social media marketing. She a blog contributor at Baby Steps Preschool to motivate and educate other parents about how they can get their children ahead of the game in school.
What is Cooperative Play?
Cooperative play means that parents and children each take a turn with toys, going back and forth without needing an adult to be involved in the fun activity. This way, the toddler gets exercise while also having fun playing games or doing things together.
Why is it a good idea?
There are lots of benefits for cooperative play:
- It helps develop skills. Helping your toddler learn new things, like taking turns, sharing, and being polite, is fun and motivating for most kids.
- It’s an essential way for a child to practice social skills. Cooperative play provides opportunities for the toddler to interact with siblings while also forming relationships with other family members. It will come in handy when the child is older and in first grade or kindergarten.
- It’s a fun and low-pressure way to get exercise. If you’re looking for ways to get your toddler to exercise but don’t want them to do something that can be boring or frustrating (like running in place or chasing after a ball), cooperative play is a good option.
- It’s an excellent way for parent and child to bond. By interacting with your toddler, you get closer and feel more connected, making mommy and daddy happy.
- It allows plenty of giggles and smiles, which are contagious. You’ll love watching your little one laugh at the fun they’re having with you.
- It’s a free activity. There aren’t many ways to play with your toddler that don’t cost anything, so if you’re looking for bargain fun, this is it!
Whether your toddler is two months old or two years old, you can do the cooperative play right now!
What Childcare Options Allow for Cooperative Play?
If you’re interested in at-home childcare, nanny-shares offer you the ability to socialize your child to engage in cooperative play. Nanny-shares are best structured with multiple children from different families watched by the same nanny at one home. The children can be similar ages (at Village Childcare we aim for within 4 months) OR the nanny-share can have different aged children that mirrors a sibling relationship with different benefits.
Daycares offer the most cooperative play because your child will usually be surrounded by 3+ other children, and watched by caregivers/teachers who are experienced in engaging multiple children together.
How to Start Cooperative Play
1. Choose one toy.
Cooperative play works best when you only choose one toy for your toddler to play with at a time. This way, there’s no fighting over the toy, and your child can focus on having fun. The best toys to choose from are ones that you can use in multiple ways – blocks, cars, dolls, and stuffed animals are all excellent choices.
What Toys to Choose for Cooperative Play For Toddlers?
Here are some examples of good cooperative toys for toddlers:
- Push Car & Push Train – Push cars and trains are a good choice for playing together with a toddler. Toddlers love pushing them around, getting exercise while also having fun together.Teaching your toddler how to push his car or push train has many benefits, such as developing his fine motor skills such as hand-eye coordination and building coordination.
- Sense Orb – The sense orb is a great toy for toddlers to practice their self-awareness and storytelling skills. For example, if your toddler has a favorite toy like a plush teddy bear, he can introduce you to his good friend by showing you how the toy moves. He can then tell you that his bear eats vegetables and fruit such as tomatoes and apples, and all this is so that his bear feels good.
- Car Seat – A child’s car seat is a good toy to help your toddler learn how to play together. He can sit on it and push it around while you guide him from a distance.
- Blind Box – It is another great toy for toddlers to start playing together. They can first practice their logic skills by exploring what items are inside the box without opening it up. They can then open the box once they feel confident in knowing what is inside of it. They can take turns opening the toy, and each one will get a turn trying to guess what is inside!
- Trampoline – Kids trampolines are also good toys for toddlers to play together to improve their motor skills, jump higher, and get some exercise.
- Mini Basketball Hoop – Another good toy for toddlers to play together is the mini basketball hoop. If you have a toddler who loves sports, encourage him by buying him his basketball hoop. TIP: you can also buy an extra ball so that two toddlers can play simultaneously. Toddlers love competition! In this case, they will be competing against each other to see who scores more points.
- Jump rope – It is a good way for toddlers to stay busy while also being entertained at the same time. Toddlers love jumping rope as they entertain themselves by doing it! “Every day is a new adventure, and I see everything through my eyes.”
2. Make sure the toy is safe for toddler use.
You should always check that any toys you choose for your child are non-toxic and safe right out of the box. After that, keep the toy clean by washing and drying it regularly.
3. Make sure the area is safe for your toddler to play in.
Whether you’re playing in the living room or a corner of your kitchen, you need to make sure there aren’t any safety hazards around that could cause problems for your child. It includes anything like sharp edges on furniture, too much clutter on the floor, cords from electronics, or small toys that can be a choking hazard.
4. Choose something for your toddler to do first.
For example, if you’re playing with a baby doll, maybe you want to hold it and show your toddler how to walk the doll around. Or, if you’re playing with blocks, maybe you want your toddler to stack some of the blocks themselves. Whatever activity you choose for your child first, make sure they’re not getting frustrated or bored while waiting to take a turn.
5. Make sure your toddler knows what to do next.
When you’re switching turns, make sure to let your child know that it’s their turn now and encourage them to join in. For example, if you’re playing with Lego, maybe tell them to build something.
6. Keep encouraging your toddler even after they start to get the hang of the game.
You want them to enjoy playing cooperative games, so they want to do it again.
7. Try cooperative play games with your toddler every day. Cooperative play is a great way to have fun, so do it often and keep it fun!
When you start cooperative play, your toddler may get into a few new positions, like sitting on one knee while you’re playing with a doll or holding on to your hand as you run them through the house. But don’t worry. It will stop soon after your toddler gets used to playing with the toy.
When Are the Best Times for Cooperative Play?
Cooperative play is a great way to practice social skills, and when your toddler starts to figure it out, you can start practicing with other children. But if you have a toddler who often gets frustrated easily or isn’t motivated by toys, it might not be the best time to do cooperative play. In that case, it’s better to wait until your child is a little older and understands how they’re expected to interact with others more.
Cooperative play offers many benefits to your toddler, including practicing sharing and turn-taking, more social skills, and the motivation to learn how to play with new toys. It’s also great for parents because it allows them to have one-on-one time with their babies. Although cooperative play will take some time and patience to get used to, it can be a great bonding experience for both you and your toddler!
Do you have any other thoughts about the cooperative play for toddlers? Please send us a message, and we will be glad to discuss things with you on how we can help ensure that your kids are well taken care of!