As a sitter or nanny, it’s a given that one of your job duties is playing with the kids. But the importance of playtime is about more than just keeping them occupied and entertained. Play is an essential factor in how kids grow and as a child care professional, you can make specific choices about their playtime that can have the greatest impact.

How Does Play Benefit Children?

Playtime is important to many aspects of the healthy growth and development of kids’ brains. Play is instrumental in helping them develop the skills required for success in school and beyond. These skills include:

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Short and long-term memory is enhanced when kids play with toys or games repeatedly, recalling rules, strategies, and other details from previous playtime sessions.

Visual and Spatial Awareness

When children understand where they are in space in relationship with objects and other people, it helps with not bumping into things and picking things up, but also so much more.


Children of all ages, including infants and toddlers, can learn all kinds of new vocabulary through play, especially when there is an adult nearby to guide and provide input. Even if they can’t say or use the words, they can still learn the meanings.

Communication and Social Skills

When playing with others, children learn about interpreting tone of voice and facial expressions and conducting appropriate interactions. They also build empathy and learn about the art of negotiation.

Attention Span

Certain types of play, especially those related to construction, promote sustained attention on one activity or object, as well as the ability to manage competing demands or avoid distraction.

Fine and Gross Motor Skills

All forms of active play involve some kind of motor skill, whether children are manipulating objects, gaining proficiency with both hands, improving hand-eye coordination, or increasing strength and agility in large muscle groups.

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How Can Child Care Providers Encourage the Benefits of Play?

There are various different types of play, and ways to promote more play, in general, in children’s lives. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can improve the playtime experience of the kids you care for, check out ChildCare Education Institute’s course, The Importance of Play in Early Childhood.

Sittercity sitters get a special 20% discount off a year of courses, so start with The Importance of Play in Early Childhood and keep going from there! In addition to this course, they have over 150 online child care training courses in English and Spanish that meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start requirements.

Taking continuing education courses is a great way to build your credentials on your profile as well as potentially increasing your rate of pay. CCEI offers the convenience of taking coursework from work, home, a library, or anywhere internet access is available, so they make it easy for you to learn at your own pace and around your schedule.

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