Day Care: Good Or Bad And What To Look For

I found this interesting article on the New York Times
Below are just the highlights -go here to read the full article. 

ONE of the first decisions working parents must make is whether to place their child in a day care center. Preschool programs and day care centers have been studied extensively by researchers, and the reports are usually a mixed bag of risks and benefits.

The consensus of most child development specialists is that participation in day care and preschool programs is associated with improving children’s pre-academic skills, language and memory; preparing them for kindergarten; and giving them an edge that persists through elementary school. A recent study of public school prekindergartens in Tulsa, Okla., found that children experienced gains of nine months in prereading skills and five months in premath skills compared with other children their age.

The downside of day care — an increase in aggressiveness noted in several studies, including the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, one of the largest long-term government studies supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development — persists through elementary school, and the more hours a child spends in day care, the worse it is. But many researchers dismiss the problem, saying the increases are so small as to be insignificant.

And that, she said, leads to what she calls “the two-arm problem: you’ve got three crying infants and only two arms, you can’t pick up all the infants at once.” As a result, she said, the quality of infant care provided in child care centers tends to be lower than infant care in more informal settings, and the optimal age for putting a child in a day care center may be around 2 or 3.

When parents are choosing a child care center, experts say they should seek out a program that is certified and licensed, meaning it meets basic requirements, and that it is accredited by a professional organization like the National Association for Education of Young Children. They should ask about the qualifications of teachers and the staff turnover rates, and inquire about the caregiver-to-child ratio, which should be 1 caregiver for every 4 infants or toddlers, and 1 to 10 for prekindergarteners.

Parents should always be free to drop in at a center unannounced, said Jerlean Daniel, the association’s deputy executive director.

“When you go into a child care center or program or home, what you really want to do is see how the providers are acting toward the other children,” said Peg Burchinal, an applied statistician who has worked on many child care studies and is affiliated with both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of California, Irvine. “They’re going to be nice to your child when you’re there, but how are they acting toward the other children? Are they talking to them? Do they sound like they like them? Are the children engaged, or is there just a lot of milling about?”

It may be reassuring to parents to hear that ultimately, psychologists say, it is family characteristics — including income, parents’ education level and the mother’s sensitivity — that are more strongly linked to child development than any element of child care.

Read the full article to hear all the other points made! 

I would love to hear what you think of this article.  Do you agree or disagree with most of it?

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

3 thoughts on “Day Care: Good Or Bad And What To Look For

  1. I agree with the last paragraph of the article…that it’s the family environment over anything else that makes your child. That being said..not everyone has the option to stay home with their kids, or would even want to if they could..so I guess we each have to do what is right for us ! For me..I plan to stay him and then when my kids reach preschool age, let them go to preschool a few days a week so they aren’t missing out on the social interactions or academic chances!

  2. OH believe me…if I didn’t already have a baby, carseat, snap n go frame, diaper bag, carry on bag, 3 suitcases, possibly a camera bag, and 1 begrudging husband…I’d take my laptop! He’ll have his..so I can post if I must…but since I won’t be skiing all 4 days to do the pregnancy I’ll probably just try to relax and take a break:)

  3. My experience:I had a friend watch my son here when I worked from home. Then he went to daycare at 1 year old. I think it was tough for him to have toys taken away and all that. But he’s such a social kid, he really enjoyed it.My daughter went to daycare at 6 months and had a hard time being away from me.I prefer home daycares due to the ratio and the personal treatment. I didn’t find a center that I liked for a little one under 2. Plus, the consistency of the same provider is real nice. There’s lots of turnover at a center

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