Having a nanny or sitter can be extremely helpful—they’re a trusted stand-in for when you can’t be there. It’s also a comfort to know that if you’re unable to give as much focused time to your child as you’d like, they have your back! Your provider spending one-on-one playtime with your kids provides key elements to your child’s growth and development in ways you may have never thought of. Here are some amazing ways that playtime can teach life skills later:


It may seem like they are just occupying your child with toys, but the work your nanny or sitter is doing is helping to teach your child lessons in asking questions, listening, considering options and priorities, and making decisions jointly! Collaboration is a life skill that’s critical for almost any career as well as in personal relationships.

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Mutual playtime gives kids a chance to break out of the classroom setting, where roles and activities are assigned by teachers and the curriculum. This is where they get to be in charge! They practice making rules, listening, respecting others’ boundaries, taking turns, compromising and even conflict resolution. Playing with your provider allows your kids to better navigate friendships and relationships.

Content Knowledge

People all have different ways of seeing things, hobbies, ways they process, etc. Having a person with a different field of knowledge guiding your child can open up new areas of exploration. In addition to expanding their current hobbies and interests, your nanny can also introduce them to new subjects, different activities, and even different cultures. You never know what will become a lifelong hobby or even career for your child later on!

Critical Thinking

Playful experiences encourage children to ask questions, hypothesize, analyze and test their theories. These types of experiences can act as a STEM learning activity. Your child care provider making slime with your kids, for example, is much more than a messy art project! It can show kids how to try different ways to consider things, test them out and find new ways to reach a goal.

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Creative Innovation

Very young children engage in “functional” play, where an object is used strictly as what it is for. As kids mature, they begin to utilize “imaginative” play. A flower can become a hair accessory and a stick can become a troll’s guarded treasure! Your provider engaging in imaginative play with your child broadens their horizons and teaches them that the sky’s the limit! This type of creative innovation can later translate into your child discovering something groundbreaking!


Playtime offers children the opportunity to explore. They try out new things, make mistakes, revamp them and try again. Dedicated playtime with your provider gives them chances to work through frustration to reach a goal, and someone to celebrate with them when they accomplish it! The reward of success can encourage them to try something even more challenging next time, and not give up if their first attempt doesn’t work. This type of confidence will be key in just about every aspect of their adult life.

Share your thoughts with your child care provider about the values you have about play, provide open-ended materials (such as blocks and legos), and encourage your provider to share playtime ideas with you. Letting your provider know that you appreciate them and the dedicated playtime they spend with your child can show them just how valuable their time with your child is. It also empowers them to keep at it!

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