Playtime is Important When Looking at Child Care

If you have been investigating child care options in the Fairfax, VA area, you have no doubt had curricula explained to you, received tours of facilities, seen more than your fair share of playground equipment, and probably discussed lunch and nap schedules. All of these things are important and should definitely not be neglected. However, in the midst of making sure that your child will receive instruction, a well-balanced lunch, and a period of rest in the afternoon, it is also important that they have free, unstructured playtime.


Today’s children lead such structured, scheduled lives, that many are not learning how to play properly. Unstructured, self-guided play is essential for developing both the imagination and the critical thinking skills that children will need for problem solving throughout their childhood and into their adult lives. Many parents and some child care facilities have gotten into the habit of giving children toys or games to occupy them, but fail to actually allow them to play on their own, or better yet, to play with them.


Allowing children free playtime, especially playtime in which you or their child care provider are involved, enables them to take charge of situations in a non-threatening environment. It is an opportunity for them to be in a position of power, something that does not happen for them very often. While in charge, a child has the ability to learn how to weigh options, make decisions, and deal with the consequences. It also lets the children know that adults value their input and that they have the ability to contribute something worthwhile.


In a child care setting, it may not be possible for a provider to engage in this type of play all the time; however, a provider can allow for unstructured play among the children while providing adequate supervision. This type of play brings many of the same benefits as one-on-one play with an adult. In addition, it has the benefit of helping children learn how to take on both leadership and follower roles with their peers. The ability to cooperate with others is an important life skill that yields big results in places other than the playground or classroom. Learning how to navigate it successfully while young means success later in life as well.


As you consider all of the available options for child care that are available to you in the Fairfax, VA area, make sure that you add whether or not the child care provider allows plenty of time for unstructured play to your list of requirements. Your child will be happier, will learn how to play well, and will be developing important life skills.



Child Care Fairfax, VA – At Sparkles! we have a curriculum that incorporates structured learning activities, group games, unstructured play, and language and music activities. We believe in child care that is fun, age-appropriate, and that meets the educational and emotional needs of children. Sparkles! child care in Fairfax, VA has a modern facility with caring, trained staff to meet the best interests of our children. In Fairfax, VA, contact Sparkles! at 703.502.8100 or visit us on the web at


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