How to Encourage Developmentally Appropriate Play


According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), developmentally appropriate play simply means engaging in skills and tasks that the child has mastered or is mastering. (Click here to learn about The Six Types of Play: Stage by Stage.)

When play is developmentally appropriate, a child builds self-esteem, an internal sense of mastery, and gains the confidence to move forward to other games—and in life. On the other hand when play isn’t developmentally appropriate, a child may find herself unable to complete a task and start to believe “they can’t do it.” This may cause kids to take their frustration out on themselves and others during other times of the day, cause the child to be more stressed, and in turn cause you and the child to have a strained relationship.

So how can you encourage developmentally appropriate play? Here are three ways:

  1. Educate yourself about child development. If you don’t know the different stages of child development, then you’ll be unable to determine which stage the child is in and what type of play is appropriate. For a crash course, check out our blog, “The Six Types of Play: Stage by Stage” and click HERE to learn about our upcoming Nanny Education Workshops, many of which cover child development topics.
  2. Learn what is individually appropriate for that child. Children learn and develop differently, and there’s no one-size-fits-all way to encourage their playtime. Take the time to observe and learn about the individual child’s interests, abilities and triggers, then use what you know about him to encourage appropriate play.
  3. Knowing what is culturally important. It’s important for nannies to try to understand what the family’s values, expectations and cultural histories are in order to provide meaningful and respectful learning opportunities for the child.

To learn more about child development, click here to visit the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Photo Credit: Valentina Powers/flickr

Brain Development, Child Development, Child Development, Nanny Education Child Development, developmentally appropriate play