Does Child Care Make a Difference in Child Development?
Putting your child in a daycare center can be a highly difficult task and requires a lot of resilience on the part of the parent. However, before you actually go ahead and put your child in daycare, you should know what effect child care has on child development.
It is quite obvious that if you put your child in a daycare center, he or she is likely to spend a few hours there as you probably have to work or run errands during the day and cannot leave your child at home or take him or her along. Spending so many hours at a daycare center will obviously mean that child care will have a significant impact on different aspects of your child's life, and depending on how good, or bad the daycare is, the effects can be of good or bad nature.
Myths about Child Care and Development
Before indulging in how child care affects development, it is important to understand the myths about the effect. The following myths are false and require debunking as they give child care centers a bad reputation:
Anyone Can Care for a Child
Many people believe that caring for a child is the easiest thing in the world because there are only a few things that they need (food, sleep, and someone to clean up after them). However, this is completely false, and any daycare that exhibits this mantra should not be on your list of top daycares to send your child because this means that they probably hire anyone off the street to work at their center.
Notice how first-time mothers struggle to take care of their child, and this is because it takes training and understanding to take care of a child effectively. Similarly, daycares should hire trained or qualified experts for their staff as this will ensure ease in the care of the multiple children that will stay at the daycare.
Daycares are Better than Home-Based Settings
This is completely false and has been proven in research as well. This is because, in the home setting, parents can control the environment. However, they want. Daycare centers may not provide you with the same amount of control. Also, you may find that many daycare centers do not have similar priorities as you, and that may be another contributing reason to why this myth is false.
However, for home settings where the parent is not in good health or cannot provide the child with the attention and time they need for some reason, daycare centers may be a better option, and they might provide better care than the home-based setting.
The Domains Affected by Child Care
The main developmental domains that child care will affect, including the following:
The Social Domain
The social domain can be greatly affected by child care because the environment provided by a daycare center involves a lot of interaction with other children from many different backgrounds. This can be a positive effect when the daycare ensures complete supervision, and the children are kept busy. In such a case, the child will learn how to interact with their peers appropriately, and he or she may even pick up a few good habits.
However, it can also be negative in cases where the daycare does not provide supervision and leaves the children to roam freely and do whatever they want. In such a case, your child can learn bad habits from others.
The Nutritional Domain
Child care centers generally have a snack or lunch time in their schedule, and if you do not have the time to pack a special lunch for your child, you will have to rely on the food provided by the daycare. If the center provides your child with a variety of options, and he or she gains the needed nutritional exposure required at their age, then your child will be positively affected by child care.
On the other hand, some daycares choose to take the easy route and simply provide junk food or packaged goods that are high in sugar but low in any nutritional value. In such a case, your child will develop bad nutritional habits, and instead of thinking of such foods as an occasional indulgence, they may start craving junk food daily.
The Physical Domain
Child care centers usually schedule a lot of physical exercises and outdoor activities, which allow your child to have a good outlet for all of their energy. Such exposure can allow your child to grow at a better rate as they will be given a chance to play outside, run around, and explore their environment. Such exposure can also have a positive impact on how strong your child's immunity system (and even other biological systems) become as your child will have the chance to play in different places with their hands, walk around, climb, etc.
The Socialization Domain
Child care can have a great impact on the socialization and upbringing of your child because it is likely that your child will learn a lot of things from the daycare. You should find a daycare that has similar values to your own so that it is easier to care for your child. Putting your child in a daycare that has conflicting beliefs would make it difficult for you to handle your child. Such beliefs can range from religion, how to treat others, and how to interact with the environment.
Child care can have a significant impact on your child's development, and this is why most parents take a lot of time and put plenty of consideration in their choice of daycare centers. Your child will spend a good chunk of the day in child care, so such effects are completely expected. But make it easier on yourself by finding a daycare that suits your needs, do not simply go for the most expensive or highly reviewed daycare.