Friday, September 30, 2011

How Does Childcare Effect Early Childhood Development?

A recent study finds that differences in the type of childcare children receive has little to no effect on development.

After having a baby, full-time working parents will get some maternity and/or paternity time off, but what happens when that time is up? Parents are often faced with a difficult decision—return to work, or take their baby to a childcare center. Even if the parents can afford the high cost of childcare, some parents are concerned that childcare from such an early age may negatively impact their child’s development. Luckily, that’s not the case.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recently conducted a study and produced a report entitled Childcare up to 18 months. Relations between child care up to 18 months and language skills and mental function at five years. Researchers looked at the effects of childcare centers vs. being at home in regards to language skills, language-related difficulties and psychological function.

According to the report, language skills and psychological function were not affected, whether they used one type of childcare, a combination of childcare arrangements, how many hours a week they were in childcare, or if they were home.

"For most children there is no evidence from our findings to suggest that it is harmful to begin in centre-based childcare at 12 months," said Synnve Schjølberg, researcher and specialist in clinical psychology. "The small effect sizes of the findings indicate that the differences between children attending childcare at an early age and those starting later have no clinical implications for most children,” she explained.

“Neither do the findings suggest that most children who are cared for at home up to 18 months of age are better prepared than children cared for by others in the same period. The findings don’t suggest that most children who are cared for at home are better prepared than children cared for by others in the same period,”said Schjølberg.

While there were some children, mainly boys, slightly affected behaviorally, the group was very small, and it could have been because of any number of variables, such as poor childcare services. However, any significant differences that were identified were with a very small group.

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