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Parents who sometimes feel guilty sending their kids to daycare every
day might be heartened by a new study that finds that kids who go to a
high-quality daycare can see academic benefits that last into high
The findings come from a long-running U.S. government study that
finds that children in high-quality child care score slightly higher on
measures of academic and cognitive achievement as teenagers.
They were also slightly less likely to act out than peers who
were in lower-quality child care, the researchers reported. But kids who
spent the most hours in child care each week had a slightly greater
tendency toward impulsiveness and risk-taking at age 15 than teens who
had spent less time in child care.
The findings are presented in the journal Child Development.
The researchers note that the study was not designed to determine
cause and effect, and the results don't prove whether a given aspect of
the child care experience had a particular effect. They note that there
are plenty of other factors that were not measured in the study that
could be involved.
For the study, Deborah Lowe Vandell, the chair of education at
the University of California, Irvine, led a team who tracked 1,364
children from diverse backgrounds who have been studied since they were
one month old starting in 1991.
They gathered information on the quality, hours and type of
daycare. High-quality care was characterized by the caregivers who were
warm and supportive, and offered the children lots of cognitive
stimulation. Then they collected results of standardized tests, and then
interviewed the teens, their families and their schools.
About 90 per cent spent at least some time in the care of someone
other than a parent before the age of four. More than 40 per cent of
the children received high-quality care.
The team found that at age 15, kids who had been in
higher-quality care scored higher on tests of cognitive and academic
achievement than peers in lower-quality care.
"High quality child care appears to provide a small boost to
academic performance, perhaps by fostering the early acquisition of
school readiness skills," said James A. Griffin, deputy chief of the
NICHD Child Development & Behavior Branch.
They also found that youth who had spent more time in quality
child care as young children reported fewer acting-out behavior problems
"These results underscore the importance of interaction between
children and their daytime caregivers," said Vandell. "We're seeing
enduring effects of the quality of staff-child interaction."
The gain was comparable to what had been observed earlier among
kindergarten-bound 4-1/2-year-olds in high-quality care. That suggests
that the advantage that kids from daycare have upon entering
kindergarten carries with them carrying with them.
Vandell called it "a small boost, but a boost nonetheless."
-reprinted from CTV News