Monday, March 26, 2007

Early Child Care Linked to Increases in Vocabulary, Some Problem Behaviors in Fifth and Sixth Grades

Report from National Institutes of Health (NIH) News.
The most recent analysis of a long-term NIH-funded study found that children who received higher quality child care before entering kindergarten had better vocabulary scores in the fifth grade than did children who received lower quality care.

The study authors also found that the more time children spent in center-based care before kindergarten, the more likely their sixth grade teachers were to report such problem behaviors as "gets in many fights," "disobedient at school," and "argues a lot."

However, the researchers cautioned that the increase in vocabulary and problem behaviors was small, and that parenting quality was a much more important predictor of child development than was type, quantity, or quality, of child care.

The study appears in the March/April 2007, issue of Child Development. (emphasis added>

The term "higher quality" is not clearly defined. I would imagine that "quality" is based on time spent in interaction with the children. The highest quality would be the one with the most one-on-one, or even small-group interaction and the lowest quality would be where the children are basically fed and kept from physically harming themselves.

The main point that I got out of the article is that the quality of parenting was the largest indicator. Again, quality being measured in the same manner as stated above, spending quality time with your children. Playing with them and talking to them is how they develop social and vocabulary skills.

When we leave our children in day care centers throughout the day, we are relying on others to teach these skills to our children. You only get one shot at raising each child. I realize that some people are unable to avoid leaving their children in day care centers at the preschool age, but this study emphasizes how important it is that parents ensure that the "quality" of the care is as high as possible. Not necessarily the most expensive, but the most interactive. Children should spend their time interacting closely with adults who share and display the social qualities that are most desirable to the parents. As Christian parents, it is imperative that Christian values are displayed to and encouraged in our children consistently throughout the day. This is the most crucial time of development in any person's life. Behavioural problems that are being seen in 5th and 6th graders are difficult to correct. By the time your child is a teenager, you're going to have a real problem on your hands. By the time that they are adults, they're going to have the real problems.

The results of the study can be found here: NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD)

No comments: