Collaborative Play Explained & Its Benefits For Toddlers

Kiddos of all ages enjoy playing. From a psychological view, play has a vital role in developing important social, emotional, and cognitive skills for all kids. But as your baby gets older, her play gets classified into different types of play, including collaborative play. This type of play encourages kids to take turns, follow the rules, share, negotiate, and compromise. Children involved in this type of play handle projects together to reach a common goal.

So, this type of play is necessary for kids to form meaningful bonds and connections and follow the rules of collective activity. Keep reading for more on collaborative play and why it’s beneficial for toddlers.

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What Is Collaborative Play?


Benefits of cooperative play
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According to healthline, Cooperative or collaborative play is the final of the six stages of play developed by Dr. Mildred Parten Newhall, the American sociologist, in 1929. In collaborative play, kids play and work together towards a common purpose or goal. They are learning how to work together to achieve something, and they establish their rules in the process.

Kids need to be able to get involved in cooperative play because it gives them the necessary skills to cooperate and collaborate at school and in other common social settings, such as sports. And even though conflict usually arises in collaborative play, this is normal and teaches them to handle disagreements. However, this type of play takes time to develop, and your baby will go through 5 other stages before they get to this type of play. They include:


  • Unoccupied play – Your baby moves his body and interacts with items because it’s fun or exciting. They’re experiencing their surroundings through their senses, including smell, touch, sight, etc.
  • Solitary play – Your baby will play alone without caring what other children or adults are doing. She may arrange blocks, go through a book, etc.
  • Onlooker play – Your baby is watching other kids play without getting involved. High curiosity motivates onlooker play, where your baby sits and watches other kids for a while without jumping in to play. This prepares him for when he feels ready to play with other kids.
  • Parallel play – According to Very Well Family, your child will play beside and close to other kids without actually playing with them. She enjoys the feeling of being around other kids but isn’t sure how to join in or ask other children if she can join in.
  • Associative play – Kids will play together but not towards a common goal. They may talk, laugh, and play together. However, ideas are different about the game’s outcome.
  • Cooperative play – After they’ve learned collaboration and communication, your child can now play with others towards a common goal, with everyone having a specific role to play.


RELATED: Why & How To Encourage Independent Play In Toddlers

Benefits Of Collaborative Play


babies playing blocks together

Here are the benefits of collaborative/social play:

  • Promotes cooperation as a skill.
  • Needs and develops communication skills.
  • According to Parenting First Cry, collaborative play fosters empathy because kids have to think of everyone else when making the game rules. That is, think about what is fair for everyone and how their actions can affect others.
  • Helps kids learn and build the concept of trust. After setting the rules, they’ll have to trust their playmates for this to work.
  • Teaches them about resolving conflicts. Because they deal with conflicts as they play, they’ll learn how to compromise and come up with solutions fair for everyone.
  • Improves vocabulary and listening skills by fostering communication.
  • Improves confidence and self-esteem.
  • Fosters negotiation language and skills
  • Teaches children how to follow instructions


Examples Of Collaborative Play

The idea of ​​collaborative play isn’t that kids only get to interact as they play together, but it’s also because they do it non-competitively. So, kids aren’t competing to see who wins or is the best at something.

Here are examples of outdoor collaborative play:

  • Taking turns using playground equipment
  • Making a snow person
  • Raking leaves.
  • Working together in the garden.
  • Treasure hunt, team games, or building den

Here are examples of indoor cooperative play:

  • Putting a puzzle together.
  • Completing an art project together
  • Paying pretend, such as pretending to be in the school, hospital, or at an office.
  • Blowing bubbles.
  • Make a human train and have the toddlers create a conga line, saying “Choo Choo.”

How To Help Toddlers Transition To Collaborative Play


Collaborative play
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To help your baby transition easily into this stage of play, here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Sharing – This word can be complicated for kids, so you have to make it clear. It can be momentarily giving up a toy to giving up a cookie and never getting it back. Get involved in the right and age-appropriate sharing games to integrate sharing positively in their minds.
  • Taking turns– It can be challenging for your toddler to give up something they want and wait. You can start small. For example, roll a ball back and forth to help your toddler understand that she will get a chance soon.
  • Obeying rules– An effective way of teaching your toddler about rules is not to let her win every time. And even though it seems cruel, and she’ll feel bad, it shows her all games have rules that must be followed.
  • Teamwork – you can encourage teamwork by doing household chores together, including picking toys together.

Sources: Healthline, Parenting First Cry, Very Well Family


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