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Thursday, April 20, 2017

More than recess: How playing on the swings helps kids learn to cooperate | UW Today

Photo: Kim Eckart
"A favorite childhood pastime — swinging on the playground swing set — also may be teaching kids how to get along." summarizes Kim Eckart, Public Information Officer, University of Washington.

https://www.facebook.com/uwnews/videos/1368424733250118/

The measured, synchronous movement of children on the swings can encourage preschoolers to cooperate on subsequent activities, University of Washington researchers have found.

A study by the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) shows the potential of synchronized movement in helping young children develop collaborative skills. The study is published online in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

“Synchrony enhances cooperation, because your attention is directed at engaging with another person, at the same time,” explained Tal-Chen Rabinowitch, a postdoctoral researcher at I-LABS.

“We think that being ‘in time’ together enhances social interaction in positive ways.”

Previous studies, including others by Rabinowitch, have linked music and being in sync with other pro-social behaviors, such as helping, sharing and empathizing, among young children: Marching together to a song, for example, might prompt one child to share with another. In this study, Rabinowitch, along with I-LABS co-director and psychology professor Andrew Meltzoff, sought to focus on movement alone, without music, and examined how children cooperated with one another afterward.

Two girls work together to maneuver
objects through a puzzle.
Photo: I-LABS
Cooperation — adapting to a situation, compromising with someone else, working toward a common goal — is considered a life skill, one that parents and teachers try to develop in a child’s early years.

For the I-LABS study, researchers built a swing set that enabled two children to swing in unison, in controlled cycles of time. Pairs of 4-year-olds — who were unfamiliar to one another — were randomly assigned to groups that either swung together in precise time, swung out of sync with each other, or didn’t swing at all. The pairs in all three groups then participated in a series of tasks designed to evaluate their cooperation. In one activity, the children played a computer game that required them to push buttons at the same time in order to see a cartoon figure appear. Another, called the “give and take” activity, involved passing objects back and forth through a puzzle-like device.
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Source: UW Today


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