Daycare is a necessity for most parents because many families require two incomes to get by financially. Others have made a personal choice to combine working and a supportive home life for the benefit of all members of the household. Single parents usually don’t have the capacity to raise their young ones and hold down a job at the same time.
While the inability to do it all is often stressful for many parents, they can rest assured daycare is a viable option. It offers long-lasting social, economic and academic benefits for kids and their parents. Studies have shown that children, including babies and infants from the ages of 2 years to 7 years, benefit from the daycare environment, including its quality instruction, structure and social lessons.
Even young children have a schedule at daycare. Although they might not be aware of the ticking clock, children are provided with a full slate of activities that include songs and storytelling. For toddlers, these fun tasks are essential to their intellectual growth and development. The scheduled activities are also satisfying for parents, who have less worry that their toddler’s behavior will be erratic at the end of the day due to a lack of structured times for eating, playing and napping.
An extensive study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that young children had higher cognitive and academic achievement scores as teens if they spent time in high-quality daycare as young children. Of the more than 1,300 children studied, over 90 percent had been in the care of someone other than a parent before the age of 4. The study defined “high-quality” daycare as facilities that provide extensive interaction with care providers, support, and cognitive-boosting activities.
Stay-at-home parents value the regular play dates they arrange with families and neighbors with kids of a similar age. Daycare interaction is an extension of this phenomenon, where kids get to spend time around one another in a supervised, structured and safe environment. Kids learn how to problem-solve, share and otherwise play and learn well together, while their minds are still growing and personalities still emerging.
When children are very young, they learn about adults mostly from their parents and senior members of their families. Daycare provides an opportunity for children to see other adults as mentors and authority figures able to provide positive guidance. A 2006 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study found that high-quality daycare was directly connected to quality care giving. Specifically, adult care providers respond to children’s vocalizations, provide encouragement, show a positive attitude and discourage negative interactions in the daycare environment.
A study at the University of Texas at Austin found that parents who enrolled their children in daycare were more involved in school life as their kids got older. This choice benefited not only the parents, who had greater involvement in their children’s structured academic life, but the youngsters themselves. After going to daycare kids found it easier to adjust to formal schooling.
Dropping your child at daycare can seem like a rushed, often anxiety-provoking experience. Even if you have done your research and are actively engaged in learning about the daycare’s staff, credentials and day-to-day operations, you are still leaving your precious child with a group of strangers. You may have little to no interaction with people who are sharing your experience: other parents. However, a recent study showed that even a small amount of time with other parents provides immense benefit.