Studies have shown that children, including babies and infants from the ages of 6 months to 4 years, benefit from the daycare environment, including its quality instruction, structure and social lessons. There are many reasons why daycare is beneficial to your little ones, but we’ve compiled a list of the top seven.
Regular Schedule and Activities
Daycares follow a consistent schedule every day, even for the youngest children. There are structured times for eating, playing and napping. For the slightly older kids, fun activities like songs and storytelling are essential to their intellectual growth and development. The structured day ensures that once you pick your kid up from daycare, their behavior isn’t all over the place because they’ve had specific times to let out their energy.
Children participating in a daycare program are exposed to structured curriculum that follows guidelines set forth by the state and helps improve their academic development. The National Institute of Childhood Health And Human Development found that children placed in daycare had better language and cognitive development during the first four-and-a-half years of life. And a 2016 study found that by age 5, children who attended formal childcare programs had substantially stronger reading and math skills relative to similar children who attended informal, home-based childcare settings.
Studies have shown that children who attend high-quality childcare exhibit better behavior than kids who don’t. They learn social skills through being surrounded by other children all day, so they develop problem-solving skills and experience fewer peer-related difficulties. And this doesn’t just stop at daycare. The social skills they learn in daycare “may improve children’s emotional and cognitive development, prevent later emotional difficulties and promote prosocial behaviors” according to Dr. Maria Melchior, author of a research study on the effects of daycare on children’s behaviors. These skills last into grade school and beyond.
Stronger Immune System
It may seem like kids in daycare are always sick and rightfully so with all the germs that are being carried by multiple children, all sharing the same toys. But all those early childhood sniffles pay off down the road by toughening up your child’s immune system. Similar to vaccines, exposure to germs and diseases when they are in daycare help your kids to be better able to fight off illnesses as they grow older. In short, they’re getting it all out of their system now so they can grow into healthy adults.
While the dream may be to stay home every day with your kid and spend quality mommy-me time with them, the social interaction they will get from a daycare center is far more valuable. They learn to share, resolve arguments and play well with others and make friends, skills that are important to develop early on to help them later in life. They also learn to become better at communicating. One key to effective communication is adjusting your speech based on who you’re talking to. A study found that kids who were placed in daycare were able to adjust their communication style to peers when playing a two-person game—likely because of their exposure to a greater variety of social situations.
Easier Transition to Grade School
Daycare is a structured and supervised environment. While it may be more laid back than traditional schooling, it still follows a schedule including snack times, engaging learning activities and play times. Your kid will follow a similar schedule once they start Kindergarten and progress through grade school. Research has found that after going to daycare, kids found it easier to adjust to formal schooling.
Increased Parent Involvement
Dropping your kid off at daycare may feel like the opposite of being a caring and involved parent, but researchers at the University of Texas at Austin studied 1,300 children and found that moms whose kids were cared for in daycare centers were more likely to be involved in their children’s schools starting in kindergarten—even more likely than mothers who cared for their kids themselves. That participation included everything from being in regular communication with teachers to attending an open house and forging friendships with other parents. So, daycare can provide you more benefits than just allowing you to work a 9-5 job!
While choosing a daycare may be a difficult decision for many parents, there is clear evidence that your child will benefit over the long term. The YMCA has multiple full- and part-time daycare options available all across the Greater Cincinnati area. Find a branch close to you and see how the Y can help give your child the best daycare environment to grow and thrive in.