Family Characteristics Have More Influence in Child Development That Does Experience in Child Care
Findings from a study funded by the National Institutes of Health show that a child's family life has more influence on a child's development through age four and a half than does a child's experience in day care.
Schmalfeldt: Findings from a study funded by the National Institutes of Health show that a child's family life has more influence on a child's development through age four and a half than does a child's experience in day care. The findings, from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's "Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development," are detailed in a booklet you can find online at www.nichd.nih.gov/childcare. According to Dr. James Griffin, an NICHD science officer, the study was launched in 1991 to understand how differences in child care experiences might relate to children's development.
Griffin: The study was started back in 1991, so it's been running now for 15 years. And back in 1991 there was a real concern. People didn't know the effects of child care in terms of how a child would do; their behavior, whether they would bond with their mother or not if they were spending so much time. And what this shows — and, again, this is a summary of the study through (the age of) 4-1/2 years — is basically that the children who are in child care are just fine. But, there are things like — quality of child care does matter. The children do better in term of cognitive skills, pre-academic skills, things of that nature.
Schmalfeldt: The study found that children who received higher quality child care were better able to think, respond and interact with the world around them — and had somewhat better reading and math skills — than children who received lower quality child care. In addition, the study showed that children who spent 30 or more hours in child care each week showed somewhat more problem behavior in child care and in kindergarten — but not at home — and had more episodes of minor illness than kids who spent fewer hours in child care each week. Also, children who attended child care centers had somewhat better language and social skills and better pre-academic skills involving letters and numbers, but showed somewhat more problem behavior when they first entered school than did children who experienced other types of child care settings. However, parent and family features were two to three times more strongly linked to child development than was child care during the preschool years. For example, children did better when parents were more educated, when families' incomes were higher, when mothers had fewer or no symptoms of depression, and when families had well organized routines, books, and play materials and took part in learning activities. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. James Griffin
Topic: Child Care