Today Show contributor and educational psychologist Dr.Michele Borba recently posted a blog regarding the impact of childcare on our children. As many of us have expected, the effects of childcare can be long-reaching. Borba reported the results of a federally funded study conducted by the Early Child Care Research Network, which followed 1364 families from ten different locations and varying socioeconomic backgrounds. The one thing these families have in common is that they all have children who were born within twenty-four hours of each other in 1991.
The Long-Reaching Effects of Childcare
The study is a pioneering one; the first to track kids ten years after they have left day care. Teens who spent more time in day care in the first four and a half years of their lives were more likely to take part in risk-taking behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking drugs. Kids who had attended high-quality childcare before age five scored higher on academic and cognitive-achievement assessments, and reported fewer acting-out behaviors.
With these facts emerging, it is more important than ever for us to consider the type of childcare that we choose for our children. In the current economy, staying home is simply not an option for most of us. Some of us may have family members who offer to help out, but that can get complicated, especially when their philosophies on child rearing differ from our own. We could hire a babysitter, but they are often lacking in experience. That leaves either hiring a nanny or finding a day care.
Nanny Placement Agency vs. Day Care
Nanny Placement services often provide a more specialized childcare experience, as they can match your family with a nanny based on your individual needs. You should look for a high-profile nanny agency that offers screened nanny services. They can even help you in creating an employment agreement so that both you and your nanny are clear on what is expected.
Day care may seem convenient, and might offer some good opportunities for socialization, but can often end up being expensive in the long run. There are other issues to keep in mind as well. What happens if your child gets sick? What sort of input do you have with those running the day care?
Guidelines for Making a Childcare Decision
Regardless of the type of childcare you decide on, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Is this a place where my child will be comfortable? Will he/she be happy here?
Are the activities appropriate for my child? Is there enough to sustain my child’s interest?
Is the staff knowledgeable about children? Do they seem to know what they are talking about? Do they have a working understanding of child development?
What is their philosophy about childcare and early-childhood education? What sort of training does the staff undergo? How do they keep on top of the latest developments in childcare/early childhood education?
What is their attitude toward children? This may seem like a no-brainer. Many people assume that a person works with children because they like kids. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Make sure that the staff is respectful. Watch how they interact with the children, and how the children interact with them. It is important for your child to be comfortable with their caretakers.
What sort of learning opportunities are there for my child? You should be looking for language-rich, hands-on, interactive experiences for your child. These types of experiences will help your child develop crucial skills. Avoid anywhere where the children seem stagnant, or where the TV takes the place of human interaction.
Will my child be safe here? This is your ultimate concern. Can you trust this childcare provider to keep your child safe?
When it comes to choosing childcare, don’t take any chances. Remember, the decisions that you make regarding the care of your child now can affect them for the rest of their lives. Make wise, informed decisions.