Here are some ideas you can try to make your classroom community a place where children can reap the benefits of working together each and every day:

Set some goals for changing the atmosphere in an area in the classroom where you think you would like to see more cooperation. Think of things you can do to help children build this skill. Can you add a duplicate set of materials in the manipulatives area to encourage children to work together? Can you place easels side by side in the art area to encourage communication?

Be sensitive to the various age levels and capabilities of the children in your class. A young 3-year-old is not as apt to cooperate as easily as an older 3-year-old is. Try not to expect quick changes in behavior.

During parent conferences, share information about how children work with others at home and at school. Share ideas about how to help children cooperate with one another in both environments.

Talk with other teachers to get new ideas about how to promote cooperation and collaboration in your classroom and to get support for ideas you already have in place.

Be flexible. If something is not working, give it up and try a new approach. It is not easy to admit a mistake, but it is worse to cling to a plan that does not give you the results you're after.

Be aware of differences in children's personalities and temperaments. Be sure to reward small changes in their ability to work with their classmates.

Be a role model. Share with children or cooperate right along with them. When they see you help to put away the toys or sponge the table after a snack, they're likely to imitate your actions.