Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Early Child Care May Lead to More Long-Term School Behavior Problems

In the largest study of child care and development in the U.S. (1,364 children), researchers found the more the child care, the more behavioral problems at school. In 2001, the first phase of the study found that children in child care were more likely to be aggressive and defiant. Follow-up now when the children are in 5th and 6th grades show that behavioral problems continue.

The latest study isn't available free online yet (why not, as it's a federally-funded study, one might ask...), but the NIH released a 62 page booklet summarizing the first phase of the study last year (available here.

The correlation of child care and problems at school behavioral problems can be noted below, but also note that poor parenting quality (observing parent-child interactions, interviews) also seemed to have a role.

Importantly, parenting quality was a stronger predictor than early childcare experience of school success.

MSNBC: Daycare and School Behavioral Problems
Are There Long-Term Effects of Early Childcare? Abstract March 07

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  1. ellenweber12:44 PM

    Great post You build a great case for early childhood care and brain based stimulation in those early years.

    Luckily - we now know that since IQ is not fixed, that adults who missed out on good care - can also develop far more mental capability than most of us use in a lifetime.

    What do you see as a first step toward responding to the school behavior problems shown here? I'd like to hear a bit more... Thanks for opening this critical door!

  2. Hi ellen,

    We'll have to wait until all of the results are free access, but at least the trend in these studies suggests that quality time has long-lasting positive effects on childrens' behavior.

    Some of the take-home points are pretty straightforward for daycare - better care means smaller groups of children and attentive and well-trained caregivers.

    It also means that mothers who provide loving and attentive care to their children should not feel guilty that they are depriving their children of "socialization". Some socialization "opportunities" can have negative effects.

  3. Anonymous4:17 AM

    The problem with the study, and others like it, is that it can be misused to "prove" that daycare is harmful. Just looking at the chart with this post, it would appear from the size of the bars that children in a lot of daycare are twice as likely to have problems, but the scale is skewed, only showing a very small range of data. In fact, there is likely no statistical significance between poor parenting and daycare. Looking at the middle category, daycare and parenting have an almost equal effect. This also doesn't talk about what kinds of daycare (the study showed that good daycare has no harmful effect whatsoever) and other factors.

  4. Child care is definetely an important element is his or her development. It sometimes can be harmful, as you did explained to us, and sometimes not.