Skip to comments.Study: Day care ups odds of school behavior woes
Posted on 03/26/2007 2:41:17 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade.
The finding held up regardless of the child's sex or family income, and regardless of the quality of the day care center. With more than 2 million U.S. preschoolers attending day care, the increased disruptiveness very likely contributes to the load on teachers who must manage large classrooms, the authors argue.
On the positive side, they also found that time spent in high-quality day care centers was correlated with higher vocabulary scores through elementary school.
The research, being reported today as part of the federally financed Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, tracked more than 1,300 children in various arrangements, including staying home with a parent; being cared for by a nanny or a relative; or attending a large day care center. Once the subjects reached school, the study used teacher ratings of each child to assess behaviors like interrupting class, teasing and bullying.
The findings are certain to feed a long-running debate about day care, experts say.
"I have accused the study authors of doing everything they could to make this negative finding go away, but they couldn't do it," said Sharon Landesman Ramey, director of the Georgetown University Center on Health and Education. "They knew this would be disturbing news for parents ... if that's what you're finding, then you have to report it."
The debate reached a high pitch in the late 1980s, during the so-called day care wars, when social scientists questioned whether it was better for mothers to work or stay home. Day care workers and their clients, mostly working parents, argued it was the quality of the care that mattered and not the setting. But the new report affirms similar results from smaller studies in the past decade suggesting setting matters.
"This study makes it clear that it is not just quality that matters," said Jay Belsky, one of the study's principal authors, who helped set off the debate in 1986 with a paper suggesting that nonparental child care could cause developmental problems. Belsky was then at Pennsylvania State University and has since moved to the University of London.
That the troublesome behaviors lasted through at least sixth grade, he said, should raise a broader question: "So what happens in classrooms, schools, playgrounds and communities when more and more children, at younger and younger ages, spend more and more time in centers, many that are indisputably of limited quality?"
Report has its critics
Others experts were quick to question the results. The researchers could not randomly assign children to one kind of care or another; parents chose the care that suited them. That meant there was no control group, so determining cause and effect was not possible.
The study did not take into account employee turnover, a reality in many day care centers, said Marci Young, deputy director of the Center for the Child Care Workforce, which represents day care workers.
The study, a $200 million project financed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, recruited families in 10 cities from hospitals, after mothers gave birth. The researchers regularly contacted the mothers to find out where their children were being cared for, and visited those caregivers to see how attentive and how skilled they were.
Every year spent in day care centers for at least 10 hours per week was associated with a 1 percent higher score on a standardized assessment of problem behaviors completed by teachers, said Dr. Margaret Burchinal, a co-author of the study and a psychologist at the University of North Carolina.
I read all the time that homeschooled children (I'll extend this to young children raised at home) are very comfortable with adults. Socialization with other children now would be a good idea. This could just be your child's personality, more than the setting (more nature than nurture).
Do you believe kids these days are generally as well behaved and respectful as they were in the past?
The purpose of the study was to show the effects of daycare, which it did.
What exactly is a "large classroom" these days? When I was in school, there were at least 60 pupils in any given classroom and there was actually law and order, for the most part. Those feisty old nuns took no "stuff" during my grade school years nor did my high school teachers.
What jumped out at me about that is they actually ADMITTED it, as opposed to just burying the study.
" but in the latter chapters she goes off the deep feminist end, trashing all studies such as this and the one you mentioned, and fiercely advocating for state-sponsored daycare and public pre-preschools so all those highly-educated womyn with high-powered positions can reproduce and drop the kids into the taxpayers' lap. "
I read one column written by a former feminist who left her job to have one or two kids - fully planning to return to work.
She didn't return to work.
She admitted that if she were "smart" about raising her kids the right way, she should pay attention to these studies.
She then began to notice what all other stay-at-home moms realize - there is a total lack of respect for "nonworking" moms.
But she had never worked harder in her life!
And she thought it was ridiculous that if she hired an in-home sitter, or dropped the kids off at a center then those caring for her children were considered part of the "workforce" and could proudly display their "experience" on their resumes.
she - on the other hand - though providing superior care, was considered invisible to the "workforce," and knew that when she did update her resume or interview for a new job it was considered a "no-no" to discuss taking time off to raise the kids.
So....women who eliminate the middle-man(woman) and provide superior care for tomorrow's citizens are treated as if they should be ashamed of the gap in their work history.
This woman suggested a tax break for couples where one parent stays home and cares for the children - like cutting the taxable income in half to recognize the positive service these parents are providing.
as it is - daycare parents are writing off their expenses and the kids are becoming more aggressive.
My 3 year old daughter had the same issue. We used to take her to Little Gym for classes and she would spend the first 10 minutes clinging to her mother, who had to accompany her inside. But on her first day of Pre-K, the teacher kept her so engaged, she forgot about us. The secret is to avoid the "departing ritual". When they are first distracted, duck out of sight. If a teacher is engaging, the child will forget about the parents. Perhaps you've tried this and it didn't work. In any case best of luck to you.
I'm apparently of your generation -- 60 to a class was normal in the Catholic schools, but 40-45 was not unusual in public schools. Nowadays, I think they consider any number over 20-25 cruel and unusual!
Of course, in those days, parents weren't inclined to sue if their children were disciplined! ;-)
Even my high school classes had 60+ students in a class.....our graduating class numbered 998 students in 1967.
WOW, I never thought of it in those terms, very well analyzed.
So if both parents must work I suppose to most of the thinking here they are bad parents for leaving their children in daycare? I have seen many a family saved by the fact that both parents held jobs. When the husband lost his job his wife still had a salary that could pay the mortgage and put food on the table. The family kept on going while in a crisis, not as huge of a crisis if there was no cash coming into the home. Most women do not work because they want to, they must. So self righteous indignation at people who must work to give their children and families a better life is laughable.
By the time you factor in costs of daycare, eating out, gas and other costs, having a working mother does not always add much to the bottom line. Most families if they lived more modestly could make it work, so I don't buy into the must work mentality. Many women like the idea of working and dread the thought of staying home with the kids.
So self righteous indignation at people who must work to give their children and families a better life is laughable.
I missed the part where anyone was displaying 'righteous indignation'. You seem to be guilt-ridden and seeing insults where there were none. All that was done was pointing out findings of a study.
Exactly, and this attitude is now being fostered by professional women themselves, such as Twenge -- after all, if they don't want to stay home with their kids, why should anyone else? They've actually convinced themselves that the responsibility of child-rearing is demeaning to women -- never taking into account the organizational, psychological and motivational skills that caring stay-at-home mothers acquire.
"WOW, I never thought of it in those terms, very well analyzed."
I doubt there will ever come a time when the government will offer monetary reward for taking care of your own kid...but when you think of what it is presently doing (offering monetary reward for someone else to take care of your kid - and doing it less effectively) then that alternative makes more sense.
I recently got a part time job after taking off the last 9 years to be with my kids. They are now 15 and 12. I made sure that I put on my resume what I've been doing for the past 9 years - PTA secretary and treasurer, volunteer at school, homeschooled my daughter through her middle school years. It didn't bother any of my prospective employers. (I got job offers on my 2nd and 3rd interviews)
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