Monday, March 26, 2007

Child Care is Bad for Children

This will come as no surprise to the majority of our readers, but the findings of this study were that children who spend too much time in lower quality child care have smaller vocabularies and those who spend time in child care in general (where child care is defined as "care by anyone other than the child's mother who was regularly scheduled for at least 10 hours per week") have more behavioral problems in school.

However, note the disclaimers in the article: "T
he authors emphasized that the children's behavior was within a normal range and that it would be impossible to go into a classroom, and with no additional information, pick out those who had been in child care."

This is unsurprising to me. After all, my guess is that the study doesn't consider kindergarten on up to be "child care" (it's *education*... totally different...) -- so, little five-year-olds who spend 30 hours a week in a classroom have similar behavior issues to those who spend an extra 10+ hours in child care?
What's the difference between 30 and 40 hours a week? It's still time spent away from mom, which study after study has shown to be best.

I just wish they would put two and two together and stop trying to force mandatory preschool "for the sake of the children."

Just for the record, I have nothing against families that need two incomes to make ends meet. Assuming you aren't in such a position because of irresponsible choices on your part (amassing bad debt, living a materialistic lifestyle, etc), you can't help it. For those families who must put their children in day care, here's a thought for you: non-profit daycares (such as church-based preschool/daycare programs, perhaps?) outperform for-profit daycares by 10%, according to this study by the University of Toronto.

I would also like to mention that, for fairness' sake, I googled "daycare is best" and came up with 14 results. Most of them were comparing daycare to another care option, such as a nanny (who is also considered "child care" in the study mentioned at the beginning of this post, btw). I had previously tried the search without the quotes, only to come up with a host of studies telling why daycare is NOT best and children do better with a parent at home.

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5 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • The Ramblin' Rat

    I have never liked the idea of day care, Christian or non. I want to be with my own child when they learn to talk, walk or any other cute things that babies do. Which is why we are waiting till I can safely quit my job before having a baby.

  • Anonymous

    Following Harmony's example, I googled "Daycares", and this huge anti-daycare website called "Daycares Don't Care" came up first in the results:

  • Sara

    You've misstated the study- children who attend daycare (or, in this study, childcare outside of *MOM* for ten or more hours per week) have BETTER vocabularies than those that don't. AND, since the study explicitly is interested in children who are away from their mothers for ten or more hours per week, those kids who supposedly have worse behavior could also include the children of Stay at home fathers (or those cared for by their grandparents!). If being at daycare is so bad, then why include stay at home dads and grandparents? Daycare will not hurt your kid, and in fact can be beneficial for some. Same with homeschooling- in the end, it's not going to matter if it's mom, dad, grandma, or a daycare employee- if it's loving care provided by an educated person and its supplemented with love and stability in the home, things should be ok.

  • Harmony

    Sara: You're right... partly (and I've edited the post to make it more accurate). I did misread the article -- but so did you. The article says, "children who got quality child care before entering kindergarten had better vocabulary scores in the fifth grade than did youngsters who received lower quality care."

    The study doesn't say *at all* that mothers are the ones providing the "lower quality care." And the study definitely said that ANY type of child care (including dad and grandparents) other than mom could be linked to behavior problems in the children. If you think that dad and grandparents would produce similar results to mom, I think that would indicate that the link between behavior problems and child care would be even more stark. But I would have to look at the actual study data to find that out. Unfortunately, when I tried to look that up (what can I say... I'm a nerd! :-), I discovered that the dataset is only available to "qualified researchers" (affiliates of the study).

    I don't doubt that there are some good daycares won't be bad for children... see my point about the study done on the non-profit daycares compared to the for-profit ones. But the evidence does seem to be mounting that mom's care is best. In case you didn't read the other three articles I linked, here are their findings:

    1)Oxford University found that "Young children looked after by their mothers develop better than those cared for in nurseries, or by relatives or childminders" (which would, I assume, include dads and grandparents).

    2)The NICHD found that "There is a modest, but small link between the number of hours infants and toddlers spend in childcare and the sensitivity of mothers to their children (attuned to their wants and needs)."

    3)The National Institutes of Health (among others) found that "The longer young children spend in day care, the more likely they are to be overly aggressive by the time they reach kindergarten."

    Honestly, to me it just seems that if a mom CAN stay at home, she should. And to say that daycare is just as good as mom's is to completely ignore all the evidence I gave previously.

  • Anonymous

    Me again-

    I never said that the study indicated mothers provided lower quality care. If you read it that was, my apologies for not being more clear.

    I've read most of those studies...including the original study you discussed. Let me see if i can find the dataset, i was able to access somewhere, i'll have to check again.

    Anywho, I think daycare can be "just as good as mom" if not better
    in many ways- not all SAHMs have backgrounds in child development, and if you are more concerned about your child's language skills than their behavior then it's a fair trade off (to each their own, right?). I have two friends who studied child development. It's challenging, specialized work and I believe their students get a lot more *intellectually* out of their 4 or so hours with them than they do at home. I would argue they are WAAAAY better qualified than I would to dealing with small people- even my own small people. I'll deal with the "behavior problems"- though I doubt the behavior problems are much more than being slightly more independent and strong-willed than the average kid who stayed home with Mom. Either way- every family makes their own choice (assuming you're one of the lucky few to be able to make the choice to be a SAHP) and they get to live with the consequences. Thanks for correcting the article!