Everyone wants their child to get along with other children and a great way to encourage this is by looking for toys and activities that promote team work, sharing and encourage kids to work together for a common goal. Play is a great equaliser and when they are engrossed in an activity is can be amazing at how easily people can get along and put aside any differences. Watching your child play in a group can also give you insight into their social dynamics and how they interact with their friends.
Giant parachute games are a fun way to engage a group and illustrate how much fun can be had when everyone participates and plays along. Parachutes allow for an endless amount of activities and you can tailor them to best suit the group or encourage certain skills or topics. The only downside is that you do need a fairly large space and group to carry out the activity. For an outdoors birthday party source a parachute that allows you to colour in its surfaces giving you a wonderful group activity before playing fun games with it. Achieving the common goal of completing a design coupled with the reward of playing with it, as a result, can be a very positive experience of working as a group
Group play can sometimes be challenging for kids who are very competitive or like being ‘the best’ at something. Changing the focus of an activity to make it about working together can be a helpful outlook to have, for example, if children are playing with blocks it’s not about who can build the tallest tower. Instead, make the game about what is the tallest bridge they can make together, they will have to create equally high towers and then find something to span the two towers. Lego can be a very helpful tool in promoting positive teamwork amongst children. Building a specific Lego set in a group can encourage them to work together for a common goal while free play will allow them to bounce ideas off one another and promote collaboration. For kids that have just met or are shy why not stoke the fires of their imagination by collecting suggestion of things that could be built and then allowing them to choose one to work on. If you are in need of Lego, Smyths has a great toy sale happening at the moment that includes Lego sets and also the Lego creative boxes.
Team sports are always a good way of encouraging working together. If you are enrolling your child in a club or league visit before you sign up so you can get an idea of the attitude that the coaches and instructors have. Children copy the behaviours that adults model, so if you get the impression that the coaches are heavily focused on ability rather than participation it may not be the best fit if you are hoping to encourage team work rather than pure skill.