If your toddler is in childcare so you can work, it’s normal to wonder about the effects of this outside care on your little one.
Not surprisingly, the connection between childcare and child development continues to be a hot-button topic among researchers. But research has found that high-quality childcare encourages young children’s cognitive, language and pre-academic skills, especially among children at risk for developmental delays.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development ran from 1991 to 2009 and followed more than 1,300 children from 10 locations from birth to age 15. They represented a cross-section of race, education, income and family structure, as well as type, quality of childcare and the number of hours children spent in non-parental care.
This large, multifaceted study took into account
- child-to-staff ratios
- caregivers’ positive interactions with children, including speaking with the child, asking questions, and responding to verbal cues
- the frequency of interaction
It found that childcare quality was consistently related to children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and language development over the first 3 years of life.
The study also found, that factors such as a mother’s sensitivity to her child, family income, and the quality of the home environment outweighed any aspect of outside childcare in affecting children's development in these areas.
Finally, there was little evidence that early, extensive and continuous childcare was related to problematic childhood behavior. In fact, researchers found that teens who spent the most time in high-quality childcare during their first 4 1/2 years of life reported fewer acting-out behaviors at age 15.
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