Link Between Child Care and Academic Achievement and Behavior
Teens who were in high-quality child care settings as young children scored slightly higher on measures of academic and cognitive achievement and were slightly less likely to report acting-out behaviors than peers who were in lower-quality child care arrangements during their early years, according to the latest analysis of a long-running study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Goers: A study has been following more than 1,000 children from the time they were 1 month old to look at the short and long term effects on of child care on children's development.
Dr. Griffin: As more children were cared for outside the home at earlier ages, a concern was raised that child care might interfere with normal developmental processes such as an infant forming a secure attachment with its mother.
Goers: Dr. James Griffin is with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. He explains that children in the study are evaluated periodically, most recently at 15 years-old. Multiple measures, including the students’ own assessments, evaluated the behaviors.
Dr. Griffin: These evaluations included measures of: behavioral problems, such as acting out in class; impulsive behaviors, like acting without thinking through the consequences; and risk-taking behaviors, such as behaviors that might harm themselves or others. The study investigators then compared these responses to data collected earlier in the study to determine if there was any association between their child care experiences before age 5 and their evaluation results at age 15.
Goers: Researchers found links between experiences as young children and adolescence academic and behavioral performance. Again, Dr. Griffin.
Dr. Griffin: Teens who were in high-quality child care settings before age 5 scored higher on measures of academic and cognitive achievement and reported fewer acting-out behaviors than peers who were in lower quality child care arrangements during their early years. Moreover, teens who logged more hours in child care in their first 4 1/2 years of life reported a greater tendency towards impulsiveness and risk-taking behaviors at age 15 than did peers who spent less time in child care.
Goers: Researchers still contend, however, that parent influence is far more important in child development than the type of child care they receive. For more information on this study and other children’s health issues, visit www.nichd.nih.gov. This is Elizabeth Goers, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Elizabeth Goers
Sound Bite: Dr. James Griffin
Topic: child care, behavior, behavioral problems, child socialization, mother, child development