Educating and caring for young children requires that providers take on various roles to support meaningful and playful experiences.

The roles providers take on include…

Observer – To watch and document children’s play and thinking in order to assess children’s strengths and development to plan for children’s learning.

Validator – To support, nurture and acknowledge children’s behavior in a way that does not interrupt or alter the child’s activity.

Player – To play and participate with children in a responsive partnership.​

Extender – To challenge, elaborate, further and provoke children’s thinking and ideas.

Problem initiator – To pose and take advantage of problems, conflicts, and appropriate challenges to question and engage children’s thinking.​

Role model – To display expected behaviors and attitudes of play and learning.

Documenter – To collect and organize data.

Assessor – To assess children’s individual and group strengths, abilities, interests, and developmental needs.

Manager – To set the stage for meaningful play.

Instructor – To impart or demonstrate information.​


It is essential to note that these roles are not static, where one day you decide to be an observer and another extender. Instead, the roles change throughout the day, creating balance.


Providers’ role

This checklist can be a helpful starting point for self-assessing quality in your environment and making a plan for improvement.  The checklist is based on the NAFCC Accreditation Observation Checklist.  For more information on creating a high quality environment check out the module: Creating a Child-Centered and Multi-Age Space on the Grow page under the Town Square Modules tab.

Environment Checklist Town Square Handout

Check out the Grow section in Town Square to see the new module that is available, Embracing Appropriate Multi-Age Technology Experiences. Learn about ways to engage young children in appropriate technology use and how to use technology to support growth and learning through videos, reading, reflections and interesting examples.

This module and others that you will find on Town Square align with the Family Child Care Credential and count toward clock hours. Upon completion of the module, your hours can be directly sent to your Gateways registry through your Town Square account.