Thursday, August 29, 2013

Quality Childcare Now, More Involvement with School and Teachers Later

Most employed parents of young children would agree that it can sometimes be difficult to put their sons and daughters in the care of others during the workday. Feeling confident about the quality of these daycare arrangements can make all the difference to parents’ peace of mind.

Of course, good-quality childcare has other benefits, too. In fact, new research in the journal Child Development suggests that good childcare may also increase mothers’ involvement with children’s schools further down the road.

About 1500 children and their mothers were tracked from birth to age 5. Over the years, researchers visited the children’s childcare settings to rate their quality. Then, once the children began kindergarten, teachers and mothers themselves rated how involved and active mothers were with the child’s schooling.

Mothers of children who had attended high-quality daycare in the first 5 years of life were significantly more involved with their kindergarten child’s school experience. What made the difference? When children’s early caregivers were sensitive and responsive and provided stimulating learning activities, parents provided more enriching home environments and children developed stronger academic skills. The pay-off was stronger school-to-parent ties once the child was in elementary school. Importantly, this was true regardless of the family’s income or the mother’s level of education.

These findings provide yet more evidence of the importance of children’s early learning environments. In this case, ensuring that all children have access to quality childcare arrangements can strengthen ties between schools and parents and support children’s development during the elementary years.

Course: Carol Church, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

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