With the successes of welfare reform and the high turnout of female college graduates mothers are increasingly, entering the workforce. As affirmed by the Wilson Quarterly (Autumn 98, Vol. 22 Issue 4), "Ben Wildavsky, a staff correspondent for the National Journal (Jan. 24, 1998), provides statistical background. In 1997, nearly 42 percent of women with children under six were working full-time, 5 percent were looking for work, 18 percent had part-time jobs, and 35 percent were not working outside the home" (p.115). Using these figures it is said that 65 percent of women with children aged younger than six are working or would like to be. Daycare is a necessity for the majority of working American mothers.
Within the past 20 years child social developmentalists have accumulated evidence to show that unless children gain minimal social competence by the age of six years, they have a high probability of being at risk throughout life. (Denham & Burton, 1996) Thus peer relationships contribute a great deal to both social and cognitive development and to the effectiveness with which we function as adults. Others suggest that the number of caregivers and the amount of time children spend away from parents' harms parent-child relationships thus, weakening cognitive and emotional development (Kelly, 2000). This paper will discuss the effects of daycare on children and how to choose one of high quality.
Many daycare opponents believe bonding, a strong emotional attachment that forms between a child and parent, is disrupted when mothers and fathers rely on others to be substitute parents. Children who are securely bonded to parents are more confident in their explorations of their environment and have a higher sense of self-esteem than children who are insecurely bonded to their parents. Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at George Washington University Medical School, who has authored several books including the recent book, The Irreducible Needs of Children says, "A warm, loving human relationship is very important for intellectual development. Children form their capacity to think and self-image based on these back-and-forth interactions. Fewer of these are happening, because families are so busy and more care is being done outside the home. Studies [show] that for all ages, 85 percent of day care is not high quality" (Kelly, 2000, p. 65).
It has been further proven that the issue is, the quality of the care given in daycare that makes the difference in regards to cognitive, language, and socio-emotional functions. The more quality care the more positive the functional developments. Placing a child in daycare does not exclude them from forming warm, human relationships in contrast it gives them the opportunity to form numerous bonding encounters with other adults and it also permits the formation of strong peer attachments.
A stark reality facing many parents is that quality daycare is hard to find or too expensive. Quality daycare includes a well-trained staff that serves children in small groups. This allows for successful interactions between the caregiver and child. These interactions may be related to cognitive functioning and language development. Preschoolers that have experienced positive interactions given at quality daycare demonstrated better language skills and cognitive functioning than preschoolers who did not experience such childcare as infants. (Burchinal, Lee, and Ramey, 1989) Without these interactions children who receive lower quality daycare or children reared at home scored lower on measures of academic achievement when tested against those children who were experienced.
In the study done at State University of New York College in Buffalo, they explored the relation between time spent in daycare and the quantity and quality of exploratory and problem-solving behaviors in 9-month-old infants. It was hypothesized that, given the...
References: Clarke-Stewart, K. A. (1989) Infant Day Care: Maligned or Malignant? American Psychologist, 44, 266-273
Denham, S. A. and Burton, R., A Social-Emotional Intervention for At-Risk 4-Year-Olds, Journal of School Psychology 34(3). (1996). 225-245.
DiLalla, L. F., Daycare, Child, and Family Influences on Preschoolers ' Social Behaviors in a Peer Play Setting. Child Study Journal, 28(3) (1998). 225-245.
Kelly, K. (2000, October 30). Child Docs to Parents: Stay Home and Save your Kids. U.S. News & World Report, 129(4), 65
Schuetze, P., Lewis, A., & DiMartino, D. Relation Between Time Spent in Daycare and Exploratory Behaviors in 9-month-old Infants., Infant Behavior & Development 22(2) (1999), 267-276
Wilson, E. and Tweedie, P. S. Selecting Quality Child Care. National Network for Child Care: http://www.nncc.org/Choose.Quality.Care/select.care.html. (December 1996).
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