Cooperate and Collaborate (Solution 3)

20 Oct

Woohoo – day 3! I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t stressing me out, but I’m hoping that sharing this top ten solutions list in ten days will prove useful and interesting. Just as a quick recap, day 1 was dedicated to intentionally bringing boys and girls together, and day 2 focused on fun. Today’s solution adds a third layer onto this mission of bringing boys and girls together in ways that will enhance relationships…..Solution 3: Cooperate and Collaborate.

Evidence shows that even when boys and girls appear to be working or playing together, they are less engaged, their social play is less complex, and they stay together for a shorter amount of time compared to when they are with same-sex peers. So basically, kids are not engaging their other-sex peers in the same way they do their same-sex peers. If we want kids to understand and communicate better with one another, we need to improve their level of engagement. Often times when students are asked to “work together,” it results in working side-by-side on the same thing. But by adjusting activities to promote cooperation or collaboration between peers, we can bring kids together in more meaningful ways.

I saw this in action a few months ago when I was in a preschool room where the kids were asked to make cards for their buddies (a “buddy” being another-sex peer). These kiddos were participating in our “Buddy Study,” and I had seen a similar activity done earlier in the semester. What struck me this time was how much more these kids were engaged with one another. The first time they participated in an activity like this, they happily sat next to each other and did the same thing. And they had fun. But with guidance from the teacher and opportunities to practice, they were now collaborating. They were talking to each other, asking one another what colors they would like. They consulted their buddies on whether they preferred a picture or “a design.” They were engaged. They were communicating. They were working together, learning about each other and caring about their buddy’s likes and dislikes. Now if this can work in at the preschool level, imagine the potential for improving social skills by encouraging cooperation and collaboration between boys and girls as they continue through school.

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