Just as children need to be taught appropriate manners and how to handle something fragile, they also need instruction in effective teamwork. Teachers, parents and other children are key instructors of teamwork, both inside and outside the classroom. Because teamwork is an ongoing skill set, the age of the children, as well as the type of activity all affect the benefit associated with learning teamwork.
Children who participate in teamwork building activities inside and outside of the classroom develop a greater sense of social competency because they learn to correctly interpret and respond to their peers' needs, according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Not only are children learning to work as a team, they're learning to actively listen and respond in a way that makes the group effort more effective.
Older children learn that in order to make teamwork effective, they can't attempt to do everything or do nothing-- it's a group effort. Even preschoolers playing the parachute game or Ring Around the Rosey are learning the value of cooperative teamwork. The parachute only makes a mushroom if everyone follows the instructions, and kids quickly learn that Ring Around the Rosey isn't much fun if one person randomly decides to fall down in giggles before the rest of the group.
Children who learn teamwork also learn to negotiate their own needs, as well as the concerns of other people in the group. If one child in the group refuses to be "it" even though it's his turn, it's up to the remaining players to negotiate and convince him to follow the rules. Children who learn teamwork by working on a group mural are also learning how to negotiate their own vision with the vision and preferences of the other group members, according to TeachPreschool.org.
Learning the above skills through teamwork instruction also helps children learn to reflect on their individual experience versus the experience of the group. According to the National Institute for Science Education, children working in a team should receive feedback from an adult about their effectiveness as a team. It's also beneficial for the group members to reflect on what did and didn't work well in the group, including what each person thinks he could have done differently as an individual member.
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