Nannies and families, did you know that little ones learn through play? This is a concept that is commonly referred to in education and child development circles, and play-based childcare is in high demand–for good reason! Every time your child picks up a doll, builds with blocks, or plays house with their sibling, they’re making sense of the world around them.

Playtime gives children the opportunity to try on different identities and roles. How does it feel to be the doctor, the parent, the superhero, the nanny, the doggie? Exploring these roles is not only fun for your children, but an enriching, educational experience, as well! Interacting with other children or adults while they mimic the habits of each character helps them to carve out more robust social-emotional skills, ultimately improving their cognition.

Here’s some food for thought: what qualities about certain characters do you think resonate with your child? Perhaps they’re drawn to a particular role or character because they hope to be more brave, honest, or silly. Perhaps they are natural leaders, caregivers, or artists. If you think you’ve found commonality among their favorites, what activities or books can you introduce them to that can help them explore this quality more?

Hands-on playtime with toys like blocks, balls, and materials for arts and crafts can help your child or charge to develop fine motor skills and spatial awareness, as well. These activities are embedded with opportunities to grasp a sense of gravity, movement, density, and buoyancy.

The beauty of plain and simple toys is that they can activate your child’s imagination, and encourage them to think more freely. For instance, a wooden block can be a house, a box, a step stool, a chair, a table, or even a rocket ship!

If you’re interested in fostering your child’s sense of imagination, try introducing them to simple toys without the light up buttons, sounds, bells, and whistles. You might be surprised with what they come up with themselves! Libraries, parks, museums, hiking trails, and backyards make for lovely places to activate their imagination, as well!

Nannies and families: what games and toys are you little ones enjoying lately? Where are your kiddos most creative? We’d love to hear your perspective in the comments below!