While reviewing an ARTICLE from Reuters titled “Study shows consistent benefit of early daycare”, I was reminded of the challenges parents face while evaluating options for entrusting their most precious beings in the hands of a childcare provider. There are so many studies out there though that either support or discredit the concept of “childcare” versus full-time parenting.
The Parental Role vs. Childcare
So much of the media and “parent peer pressure” instills a feeling of guilt in mothers who go back to work to help to pay the bills or pursue a full-time career. That feeling is created by the notion that opting for childcare is giving up a portion of your parenting role. However, parental responsibility includes providing, in the form of a home, food, education… and love! Parents should never be made to feel guilty for pursuing their professions and ensuring they will be able to provide the best for their children, in all areas of their lives. Children are more likely to pursue a specialty and profession when their parents are continually growing, reaching their own goals and therewith instilling fulfillment and ambition in their offspring, whether they decide to pursue these goals at home or through a career.
The Childcare Provider’s Role in Early Education
The article explains that high-quality childcare helps to boost academic performance in later years. It then underlines “the importance of interaction between children and their daytime caregivers,” and that the researchers are seeing “enduring effects of the quality of staff-child interaction.”
There bring up several important points covered here in more detail:
How is “high-quality” defined? Is it the adult-to-child ratio? The academic level of the program? The credentials of the childcare providers? How clean and sanitary the facilities are? How small & selective the enrollment is? Although all those questions may come into play, the article only discussed the daycare option, and did not expand into other forms of high-quality childcare such as a nanny or au pair, who provide 1-on-1 care with siblings, in the comfort (and sanitary) of their home environment?
2) Boosting Academic Performance
I would be interested to find out what aspects of early childhood education these studies concluded were instrumental in boosting academic performance. I understand it is probably a combination of reading, learning games, playing, speaking, sports… How about bilingualism? I have found that the abilities early exposure to a second language provide, extend beyond communication, but also to logical thinking/ math, tolerance of people from other nationalities, outstanding people skills, an acute ability to adapt to new situations and environments, etc.
3) The Interaction
That aspect of childcare is truly key. A childcare provider is not only responsible for “watching” children (making sure they remain safe, feeding them, etc.) but also for nurturing them with love, compassion, care, patience, understanding, two-way attentive communication. Interaction is more limited when the ratio of adult per child is low, and when daycare workers are so busy keeping the group running that they may not have the ability to provide individual care.
Additionally, while the relationship between provider and child may be more professional with the daycare option, it is also more distant. Although it can be a little frightening at first for parents to see their children grow so close to an au pair who will leave their family after 1 or 2 years, these are bonds that are often nurtured beyond their au pair year. They prepare children for the relationships they will develop in school and in life, with some that are kept beyond a shared class, or others that may have to end because of distance or moving. The impact their nanny will have will be long-lasting and help children in their social skills, in addition to setting them up for academic success.