Our Bush School (Forest School) Experience - Sydney, Australia 2020
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What Montessori Parents Do Differently - Cooperative Board Games

Friends and Neghbours Helping Game at How we Montessori 3 years

Have you thought about playing cooperative board games with your children? With the school holidays coming up I know my children will be spending more time together so I've got out a few of our favourite cooperative board games.

I only discovered cooperative games while reading about Montessori in the home. Why are they recommended? Why do Montessori parents choose cooperative board games, especially for younger children?

"Results showed that cooperative behavior increased and aggression decreased during cooperative games; conversely, competitive games were followed by increases in aggressive behavior and decreases in cooperative behavior. Similar effects were also found during free-play periods."

Bay-Hinitz AK, Peterson RF, and Quilitch HR. 1994. Cooperative games: a way to modify aggressive and cooperative behaviors in young children. J Appl Behav Anal. 1994 Fall;27(3):435-46.

Cooperative board games:

  • help reduce competitive environments and relationships - which often exists with siblings and friends. 
  • teach another way of playing, especially for children who are only familiar with competitive play - many of the games children play have one player as a winner, cooperative games allow children to play without one person being the winner, or the loser. Games like tag are often won by older or stronger children, in cooperative games, the playing field is even. 
  • can promote group cohesion and group identity
  • teach that cooperative work is the norm - we set the standard in the home, children may be competitive - who gets to the car first, who finishes dinner first, but as parents we can make a difference and cooperative games (and less competitive games in the early years) can assist in creating our desired home environment.
  • can assist with the development of fine motor skills - includes moving counters carefully, often one spot at a time. 
  • build concentration - some cooperative board games are as short as five minutes, many are 10-15 minutes, some children won't want to sit through the whole game but it is a good opportunity to practice finishing a game and to build concentration. I've found young children are more engaged with cooperative board games and therefore play longer than with traditional competitive board games therefore greater development of concentration.
  • provide the opportunity to practice grace and courtesy - including inviting others to play, taking turns, cheering each other on, and pack-up/clean up together. 
  • promote language and numeracy skills - as the focus is on achieving the group goal, children may be more open to learning, to talking and encouraging each other, helping each other count, or work out the next move. 
  • may promote group strategic thinking - including group discussion, games like Hoot Owl Hoot the children may discuss which owl to move next for example. 
  • may encourage creativity - when my children go through a big game phase they often like to develop their own games, often cooperative games. 
  • may encourage trust between players - children may trust each other more when there is no competition between each other. 
  • promote and support healthy relationships - provides the opportunity for children to interact respectfully with one another.
  • take away the fear, frustration, and pressure of losing - in cooperative games the children work together, they win or lose together, children do not need to worry about being the last, or the loser in the game, this may make playing less stressful and more enjoyable. I find younger children can get easily frustrated when playing competitive games, where they frequently lose. 

Pictured above is Friends and Neighbors: The Helping Game. All of the cooperative games pictured are for children three years+.

Count Your Chickens Cooperative Game Three Year Old at How we Montessori

Count Your Chickens.

Cooperative Board Game at How we Montessori Count Your Chickens

The aim is to get all the chicks back into the barn. This game is wonderful for children learning to count. 

Hoot Owl Hoot at How we Montessori three year old board game

Hoot Owl Hoot. This is a family favourite although Otto (3 yrs) is still learning how to play. The aim is to get all of the Owls into the nest before the sun comes up. 

Hoot Owl Hoot at How we Montessori three year old board game

If you are looking at cooperative games for slightly older children (4yrs+) you may like to read our previous post about Cooperative Games here

Count Your Chickens, Hoot Owl Hoot, and other cooperative board games are also available at Montessori Services. 

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