Effects of day care
As more and more mothers are entering or returning to the workforce, the demand for good quality crèches, nurseries and childminders is growing rapidly. This section considers the effect that day care has on the children's cognitive and social development.
Important: It is very difficult to generalise the effects of day care because the quality and types vary so widely and research studies only sample a small section of this variation. Generalisation is also difficult because most of the research is carried out in the USA, which means that the findings may not be relevant in other cultures. Furthermore, individual differences in personality, social background and family relationships will also influence the effect of day care on a child.
Day care and cognitive development
Cognitive development refers to the growth of cognitive functions, such as thinking, reasoning and linguistic skills.
It seems that day care can have a positive influence on the child's cognitive development provided it is good quality and provides intellectual stimulation. This is particularly true for working class children (Scarr, 1998), presumably because middle class children receive the appropriate stimulation at home anyway.
Evidence for this comes from research comparing the cognitive abilities of three groups of 8 year-old children, who had received different types of care in infancy - day nurseries, childminders or remained at home. Those children who had experienced care in day nurseries had better verbal and mathematical abilities than the others. There was even a positive correlation between length of time spent in day nurseries and cognitive ability (Broberg et al., 1997).
The above findings, however…