Day care, or child care, facilities provide children with the opportunity for early learning before entering kindergarten. While parents place their children in day care for a variety of reasons, improved social and cognitive development is generally a desired outcome. The quality of care a child receives in a day care setting greatly influences how she will develop socially and cognitively.
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Social development describes how a child interacts with others and how social interactions change over time. In a day care setting, children are generally exposed to various other children that are not family. Children that receive high quality day care tend to have higher numbers of friends in grade school. They also tend to be involved in extra-curricular activities. Teachers generally have fewer behavioural problems with these children as well.
Cognitive development refers to the child's ability to reason, understand concepts and process information over time. Many day care centres offer early-learning programs where children are exposed to basic concepts, such as letters and numbers. Children who are enrolled in day care tend to perform well with math and language skills. Day care children also tend to be highly attentive in kindergarten. Some studies have yielded conflicting results; however, as children progress beyond kindergarten, suggesting perhaps that day care skills may not affect children for very long.
High Quality Day Care
The quality of care received at the day care centre is a vital factor to the positive effects on a child's social and cognitive development. Research reflects positive day care results when the facility offered a small child-to-caregiver ratio. The qualifications of the caregivers as well as the training received by the facility are also important factors to the benefits of day care on children's development.
The quality of parental care received by the child tends to be one of the most significant factors in social and cognitive development. Parents who are warm, loving and supportive tend to have children who have higher cognitive skills. This includes reading to children and teaching them basic concepts, such as math, at an early age. Exposing children to language at home also helps to develop their social skills.
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