This occurs around 36 to 48 months of age, and the main examples are that this type of play will create the correct grounding for life. It is a vital aspect as it teaches sharing, co-operation and dealing with disputes. This play helps the child to build meaningful friendships and uses all the skills the child has been building on in its formative years.
The main areas covered in play are as follows:
- Their speaking and listening skills are more developed so children can communicate with each other.
- Children can share ideas and tell each other what to do.
- Communication about play is the critical skill of cooperative play
This is the best form of social play where they assign roles, share goals and play is organised around a theme eg: ‘Let’s play tag’. ‘Let’s pretend we’re in school’. The child will be engaging in all its many skills learned and be enjoying a new kind of play.
In this type of play children are sharing ideas and thoughts and communicating with each other. Fantasy play is an excellent type of cooperative play and provides children with more complex experiences and challenges. This type of play is referred to as ‘sociodramatic’ play and allows the child to overcome fear if they’re pretending to be a monster or wolf or something really scary. In managing more complex plots during play and resolving any disputes with other children they’ll be developing the entire range of social skills from compromise needed to enjoy meaningful relationships.
Help children to learn the art of negotiating their world. This will enable them to deal easily with emotions and other skills, and in turn they’ll learn empathy towards others. Congratulate them when giving up a toy to another child, and if there’s an issue then distract another toy, and just move on. Don’t allow yourself or the child to become aggravated.
Give them choices, eg: ‘Which park do you want to go to?’ ‘What story would you like at bedtime?’ All the time they’ll be learning new social skills and remember to discuss that losing at a game is not a big deal as they could win next time and that life is all about taking turns and sharing and being a good all-rounder.
Always congratulate the child when they’ve had a good day and perhaps helped little Johnny if he fell over, or hugged Tiggy if she was upset. From all of cooperative play, a child will have developed all the skills to then go on to lead a happy and fulfilling life.