There’s nothing quite like teaching our children a skill, especially if it’s one we use in our job, because it gives us a sense of lighting the torch for the next generation. These small people who look so much like us will go on once we’re gone and carry on our great work.
There’s something magical about this.
At least in theory.
In practice, things can get a little stickier. Our offspring don’t always want to do what we do, especially when they’re at that age (between eight and 21) during which we seem like the least cool or knowledgeable people on the planet.
Two summers ago, I tried to teach my kids how to write fiction by doing a project with them. We came up with a fun idea reminiscent of R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” series that, had we finished it, would have probably been a great seller. Unfortunately, my kids tend to push back, so I dropped the idea and sent them outside, promising that we would finish soon.
Why does any of this matter? Because teaching children collaboration at a young age is so important to their futures. “As our organizations slowly diffuse across time zones and space, collaboration is a glue to keep people together,” says Joshua-Michele Ross of O’Reilly Media, a publisher of technology books.
One of the greatest perks when working in a group setting is that you don’t have to do it all. “Assigning a number of tasks to each member can ensure that one person does not carry the entire load,” says Gina Fernandez of the APA Science Student Counsel.
Kids learn that when they spread out responsibility among many, everyone is only responsible for their own part. Projects, as a result, go faster and more smoothly.
Especially for those of us raising children who lack these primary building blocks of society, teaching collaboration early on can help kids learn what doesn’t come naturally. Each time they’re exposed to team-building activities, their social skills grow stronger.
Cara J. Stevens of Care.com notes, “Team-building activities also provide kids with situational tools that they need to recognize those around them and interact with others in a meaningful way.”
Scholars of CASEL at the University of Illinois at Chicago say, “Students come to understand that the success of their group, and therefore their individual success, depends on each person’s full participation.”
When children learn that each team member is part of a greater whole, and that the team succeeds only when every member plays his or her part, they are better equipped to deal with future collaborations in school and work.
While not the easiest things to teach, collaboration and the ability to work with a team are some of the most important skills a person can learn. Early exposure in collaborative projects at school and home set children up for success as cooperative adults.