The Effects of Day Care on Cognitive Development

Written by suzy giovannettone cope
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The Effects of Day Care on Cognitive Development
The quality of a day care facility and parental interaction both affect children's cognitive development. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Cognitive development is defined as how humans think, process information, understand concepts and solve problems. It is a term that encompasses overall intelligence of children and adults. Effects of day care are related to the quality of the facility, instructors and parental interaction. However, the effects are difficult to reliably measure because of the endless variety of lifestyles and backgrounds that children come from.

Enhanced Cognitive Development

Children of all ages who are receiving care in a high-quality facility are commonly found to have more advanced language and math skills. Day care centres that are school structured tend to promote early cognitive development by providing age appropriate academic instruction. Generally, basic letter and number concepts are taught, as well as simple science and social activities.

Behavioural and Social Skills

Children who attend a high-quality day care tend to have more well-rounded social skills and are quicker to develop relationships with their peers. It has also been noted that kids have fewer behaviour issues when provided with appropriate instruction in a structured day care. Child care centres may provide more opportunities for social interaction compared to children primarily cared for in the home.

Choosing a High-quality Day Care

When exploring potential day cares for your child, observe to see that the caregivers are sensitive to the emotional needs of each child and provide a stimulating environment. Children should have access to a variety of toys and receive some type of purposeful instruction daily. Make sure that instruction includes lessons which provide opportunities to develop gross motor and fine motor skills. Caregivers must be aware of the children at all times and see that the safety of indoor and outdoor play structures are safe and well maintained. The people caring for your child must be able to openly and honestly communicate with you about your child's day. Do not be afraid to talk to other parents regarding their satisfaction of the childcare provided, as well as the safety measures that are in place and the cleanliness of the facility. The parent or caregiver is usually the best person to judge if the child is receiving appropriate care and instruction at a day care facility. If the child does not appear to be happy or enjoy being at the facility, you may want to look elsewhere. Do not be afraid to explore other childcare options if you are not satisfied with your child's academic progress of development of social skills.

Studies on Childcare

The physical location is a big factor in studying the effects of childcare. Studies conducted in the United States will greatly differ from studies done in other countries. A study completed in Australia states that childcare in the forms of preschool or a day care centre do not produce any negative effects, but did not state any positive effects either. The same study proposed that children who are cared for in a home setting undergo many negative effects, as discovered by lower scores on academic testing. Some American studies of day care providers show that the effect on children is positive. These studies were conducted in high-quality centres of which not every family can afford to send children and the results of the study were not compared to children cared for only in the home. However, these studies also noted that cognitive development can be influenced more by family dynamics than day care quality. Overall, the impact of cognitive development on children, who are in day care or not, is largely dependent on the interaction of parents or caregivers and their ability to provide meaningful opportunities and interactions throughout their lives in and outside the home.

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