There have been many concerns over the past several years on whether or not early daycare causes negative or positive effects on the development of children. These fears are influenced by the fact that the early separation of a baby from his mother may cause emotional harm to the child or disrupt the mother-infant bond. Studies continue to research the effects of early daycare on children The cost of living has made it nearly impossible for mothers to stay at home even in the very beginning of their newborn’s life. This means that someone else will be responsible for ensuring that the baby is cared for while their mother is at work. Each and every day well-meaning and loving parents are forced by economic pressure to place infants, even as young as two weeks old in daycare. Studies have shown that the beginning of a baby’s life, especially the first year is a critical period in the attachment process. The question is “Is childcare harmful to the emotional development of infants”?
There have been many concerns over the past several years on whether or not early daycare causes negative or positive effects on the development of children. These fears are influenced by the fact that the early separation of a baby from his mother may cause emotional harm to the child or disrupt the mother-infant bond. Studies continue to research the effects of early daycare on children. If a mother is forced economically to work during her child’s early stages of development that means that during the child’s waking hours, he will have no contact at all with the person/persons with whom he must develop a strong and stable emotional bond (usually, his parents).
This fact has to interfere with the attachment process of infants. In an article I read it stated that the results when mothers of infants work outside the home are completely neutral, but further on in the article (page 63) we learn that child behaviors after the mother works full-time outside the home in the first year of life, together with consideration for the timing of the start of that work, be it at three, six, or nine months after birth: At age 4.5, children whose mothers had worked (full-time) at three months, six months, or nine months have significantly more externalizing behavior problems than children whose mothers did not work in the first year and this also was the case when the children reached first grade. (MROZEK, A, 2010)
I) Effects of Childcare on Emotional Development
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) conducted a comprehensive study between 1991- 2007 to observe and document the effects of daycare on over 1,000 preschool age children. The “Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development,” revealed key areas of child development that were influenced by day care providers and experiences. In some instances when a young child was left with a day care provider, the child exhibited a range of negative emotions and behaviors which included crying and clinging to parents, and screaming or hiding from the daycare provider after their parents had left. These children frequently developed insecure attachment issues and separation anxiety however other children adjusted more readily and eagerly joined their peers, barely acknowledging when their parents had left the room. These children demonstrated more security, less separation anxiety and greater preparedness for eventually entering school.
II) Effects of Daycare on Behavioral Development
Children who attended daycare at an early age were more likely to develop negative behavioral issues, which included aggression and noncompliance. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) they demonstrated a connection between children’s poor behavior and the amount of time spent in day care settings. According to the NIH study, elementary school teachers reported that students who regularly spent ten or more hours per week in day care tended to be more argumentative, disobedient and unruly in class. However in regards to a high quality daycare the NIH found that these attentive, stimulating day care environments produced children who were overall more cooperative and positive in their interactions with caregivers, peers and parents.
III) Effect of Daycare on Cognitive Development
School age children who spent significant time in daycare as infants frequently have better verbal, reading and math skills throughout the elementary school years. This is often the case in children from disadvantaged families wherein they excel more in academic development if they had spent time in daycare during their infancy and the early childhood years. This may be because the daycare setting may offer more opportunities for them to improve their skills. Children who participated in daycare during early childhood tend to have a larger vocabulary which enhanced their language development. Research conducted by the National Institutes of Health published in Child Development suggests that children frequently benefit from daycare in terms of cognitive development. The study showed that children who spent time in daycare during their early childhood continued to score higher on academic achievements even into the high school years.
IV) Effects on Social Development
Children in daycare settings at an early age had a greater ability to form relationships with peers and adults than children who did not attend daycare. This is because there are instances when aside from daycare the child would not be in consistent contact with other children their age, therefore daycare provides them with that opportunity.
Conclusions and Findings
After reviewing the research concerning the effects of daycare attendance on the emotional, cognitive, and social development of infants a wide spectrum of results can be noted. I believe that if the parent’s commit themselves to finding a high quality daycare the effects on these areas of development could even be considered positive especially in terms of an infant’s social and cognitive development.
MROZEK, A. (2010, Aug 19). Research unclear on how daycare affects child
development. The Gazette. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/746423295?accountid=32521 Pritchett, J. (2009, Dec 29). Daycare opens doors of opportunity; proposed early learning and child care act seen as positive step for young mothers, children. Telegraph-Journal. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/423338000?accountid=32521 http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/upload/seccyd_06.pdf http://www.nationalacademies.org/headlines/20070404.html
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