Effective teamwork and collaboration are crucial in early years, as the learning and development of the children in your care are reliant on you and your colleagues striving to work in harmony to deliver the best outcomes possible.

In this article, we will look at ways to help you nurture teamwork and collaboration in your setting.

Let’s start at the beginning; to be able to implement these two essential elements, the following need to be addressed:

Clear goals

Set clear goals for yourself and your team - and ensure that everyone understands the objectives, i.e. what the desired outcome is. Make sure that everyone understands their responsibilities towards achieving the goals of the setting - which will often tie in with your ethos - your set of collective ideas and professional values. Underpinning this will be a culture of respect, honesty and kindness always with the child at the centre. The goals themselves could be tied into a specific project, e.g. a garden or recycling project, or on a larger scale, the main objectives of the setting for that particular year. The main thing is that everyone understands what they are working towards, and why. Involve the whole team when setting these goals - ask for their input and ideas, and make sure to consider them.

The project or team leader should regularly check in with their team to monitor progress towards achieving their goals – you could do this in your weekly team meetings as well as in individual reviews. Providing feedback and support and celebrating successes along the way – however small they seem – will keep the team motivated and engaged.

Effective communication

Ensure that there is open and transparent communication among team members and promote active listening, respect, and positive feedback. Let’s explore how we can develop effective communication in our team.

Use positive language

Using positive language when communicating with your team members, especially when providing feedback, helps to build trust and can them to share ideas and opinions openly.

Active listening

You can ensure that everyone listens attentively to others by repeating what they heard to clarify understanding – this may sound a little silly, but you may be surprised how much more can be remembered and taken on board by repeating it back!

Providing Feedback

Giving timely and constructive feedback to your team members will help with continuous improvement, remembering that it should be given in a supportive and respectful way.

Celebrate successes

When the pressure is on to complete a project in a certain time, the smaller milestones can be forgotten in the grand scheme of the bigger picture. Celebrating all achievements and successes within the team will reinforce positive behaviours and motivate team members. This will almost certainly help to create a positive and collaborative team environment.

Build trust

If you can foster an environment where team members trust each other and feel comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas, then that is a recipe for success.


Diversity in a team can lead to more creative and effective solutions – invite your team members to bring their unique skills, experiences, and perspectives to the table.
Promote collaboration and foster a positive team culture

Urge team members to collaborate on tasks and share ideas and at the same time, you will be able to foster a culture of teamwork and make sure that everyone feels included and valued.

Address conflict

Conflict is inevitable in any team, but it’s important to address it early and constructively by making sure team members resolve any disagreements respectfully and courteously.

Collaboration within the team is essential for achieving these shared goals we’ve discussed and for building a strong team dynamic. Here are some strategies you can put in place:

Set clear expectations

Make it clear to your team that collaboration is a priority and a key to success. Communicate your expectations and support your team members when working together.

Develop relationships

Encourage team members to get to know one another on a personal level. Team-building activities, social events, and informal check-ins can help to build relationships and create a positive team dynamic (more on this later).

Define roles and responsibilities

Make sure that everyone understands their role and responsibilities within the team early on in the project or objective setting, which will help to avoid confusion and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals.

Open communication

Similar to building trust we discussed above, if team members feel they can communicate openly and honestly with one another, then an environment will be created where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas, opinions, and feedback.


Provide your team with the tools and resources they need to collaborate effectively. Some may not have worked in a team before, so some CPD training could be beneficial: “Communication” is a useful CPD e-learning course, which you can access here.

We know that great teamwork is an essential part of building a strong and effective team – here are some practical activities that can help to foster teamwork and collaboration:

Icebreaker games

Start team meetings or training sessions with games, e.g. ask each team member to share a personal story or play a game that requires teamwork and problem-solving.

Team-building exercises

These can be indoor or outdoor activities, such as obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, or building challenges.

Volunteer work

Why not suggest to your team to volunteer for a cause or charity that they care about? This can be a great way to bond as a team and work towards a common goal that is meaningful to everyone.

Group brainstorming

Provide a problem or challenge for the team to solve and then everyone can contribute their ideas and perspectives.

Role-playing exercises

These can help to develop communication and problem-solving skills. E.g. ask team members to act out a scenario that requires collaboration and teamwork.

Collaborative project work

Assign a project that requires the team to work together to achieve a common goal. This can be a long-term project or a short-term task, such as organising an event in a few months or creating a presentation for a parents’ show round.

Team evening

Organise a team evening so that staff can socialise and get to know each other outside of work. This can help to build strong relationships and a positive team dynamic.

By implementing these ideas and incorporating these practical activities, you will develop a culture of effective communication in your team, which will lead to improved collaboration, stronger team dynamics, and ultimately the best outcome for the children in your care.

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