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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Larson

3 Ways to Foster Collaboration At Home

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

If you’re keeping a pulse on the latest tech trends in education you are likely seeing a lot of buzz around virtual reality and gamification. From VR headsets in classrooms to virtual field trips and career fairs, it’s becoming a reality quicker than we might realize.

Overwhelmed? I am! I struggle to wrap my head around the idea of children learning in the metaverse (the topic of last week’s blog). And my kids have quite a bit of fun teasing me about my ‘old ways’ as I attempt to keep up with their tech-fueled daily routines.

Although if you think about it, technology isn’t really the issue here (so we can all take a deep breath). Having modern day technology skills is important. But the reality is that what our kids learn in high school will likely be outdated by the time they go to college. What they learn in college will likely be outdated by the time they graduate. And on-the-job technology training will be a regular part of most careers as we adapt to new roles at the office and new ways to run our businesses.

If technology is constantly changing, how can we best prepare our kids for the future?

What Are the Necessary Skills For Our Changing World?

There’s a movement in education around the importance of ‘soft skills’ that researchers say are important for kids to learn regardless of what path they choose after high school. Regardless of what job they want or industry they might work in.

Six skills were highlighted most recently in the Brookings Institution report we shared last week and include collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence. We’ll be digging into each of these in more detail over the next few weeks.

This might feel a bit repetitive because we’ve actually been talking about the need to develop these soft skills for quite some time. Last fall we shared a more extensive list published in a McKinsey report which highlighted 56 foundational skills they believe will help individuals be successful in the future.

So why are we talking about this again? Because these non-technical skills will be most important for how our kids work. And from preschool to high school, it’s never too early to start developing these in our children.

Collaboration: Teaching Our Kids the Importance of Teamwork

Collaboration (aka teamwork) is one of the six skills identified by the Brookings Institution. Kids with strong collaboration skills understand how to listen to others and how to respectfully share their ideas. They have great problem solving skills, understand how to manage conflict resolution and their emotions.

Learning how to collaborate with others, work on a group project or being part of a team can start as early as preschool. In schools, you likely see collaboration in action with children engaged in group play activities when they are young. As they get older, they work on group projects, or might be involved in team sports and other activities.

These are all great opportunities for kids to develop their collaboration skills at school.

3 Ways to Foster Collaboration At Home

Developing collaboration skills in our kids at home is not rocket science. Here’s three ways you can foster teamwork at home.

1. Get your kids involved in housework and activities with siblings

The simple daily tasks to manage your household involve teamwork. Check out this list of household chores grouped by age. You can also help develop these skills by cooking together and playing games together. The key concept here - focus on group activities and doing things in cooperation.

2. Model collaboration in your daily life

Our kids learn a lot by modeling the behavior of the adults in their daily lives. Get involved in your community by supporting your friends and neighbors. Encourage your kids to cook a meal for a sick friend, take on babysitting duties or care for pets, help neighbors with yard work, snow shoveling or running errands.

3. Seek out projects that increase diversity in their ‘teams’

If you find your kids always playing with the same kids at school, sports and clubs, find opportunities to expand their network. The workplace of the future will be highly diverse (age, gender, culture and more). It is also likely to involve some aspect of virtual or hybrid work.

Seek out activities that allow your child to meet new people. Volunteer activities, community service and travel are all great ways to expand their networks. As for the virtual piece, they likely have this covered with their online gaming!

Join the Discussion

Our kids may be laughing at us now (this ‘boomer’ generation they call us), but I kindly reminded my kids this week, “just wait until you have kids! They’ll be going to school in the metaverse, getting around town in self-driving (or perhaps flying!) cars, and someday they’ll be laughing at your ‘old’ ways!”

Have a fun home project that inspires teamwork in your kids? We’d love to hear from you!

About the Author

Jennifer Larson is an entrepreneur, charter school founder and mother to four children. Connect with her @startupjen.

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