This month we will focus on the powerful word, cooperation.
Cooperation, quite simply, is when we work together towards a common goal. It is made up of a compilation of social skills such as taking turns, sharing, listening, compromising, rallying together as well as valuing and appreciating others. Cooperation takes patience, empathy and accountability.
Cooperation is among one of the most important skills that children can master. A study out at the end of last year shows that early friendship quality may make the difference (November, 2011). Kindergarten kids with high quality friendships tend to have fewer behavior problems and better social skills than those whose friendships were of low or moderate quality. This is especially true for boys. According to Jennifer Engle, lead author of the study, “High quality kindergarten friendships that featured cooperation and sharing, taking turns, low levels of hostility, and little destructive conflict, gave children– especially boys–practice in positive interaction, which they demonstrated in grades 1 and 3.” Therefore, spending time on teaching cooperative skills, as we will this month, is crucial to every child’s overall success throughout life.
As children become more involved with sports and other extra-curricular activities, cooperation takes on a new quality. It’s not just about friendship but making teams work more effectively. Children and teens need to learn about filling in when needed, showing value for other people’s contribution, rallying others to keep morale high and even knowing when to step back to allow others room to grow and shine. They can apply these same lessons to help their families, student government, study groups, and friendships work cooperatively.
Please speak with your children about how they can show cooperation at home and in each part of their lives. As future and current leaders, they can lead the way!
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