Children in Daycare Have Better Language Skills, Large Study SaysHeather Turgeon
This week, a large study of nearly 20,000 children found a link between time spent in formal childcare settings and language skills.
Kids in childcare get a bump in verbal and reading skills when compared to kids who are either home with a parent or nanny — the new finding is more or less in line with previous research on this issue.
The researchers analyzed data from 19,919 Norwegian children between the ages of 1 and 3. Here’s what they found, and what the study suggests are the years that count most when it comes to being in a formal childcare setting:
At the age of 1.5 and 3, the kids who were in childcare (either a center-based or home-based program) seemed to show a protective effect from language delays – more kids who were home with a parent were considered “late talkers.”
Meanwhile, a child who was in daycare at age 1 did not seem to get the verbal boost — suggesting that maybe the benefit kicks in somewhere between 1 and 1.5 years of age. By 3 years old, there were fewer late talkers in full-time programs than in part-time ones.
This is a large study, but let’s remember that it shows a correlation (meaning that there is a relationship between verbal skills and childcare), but we can’t pin down the idea that childcare causes the boost in skills).
It’s also been noted that although kids in daycare and early preschool programs get ahead in certain skills (like language), it’s unclear how long these benefits last. Once all children reach school age, some studies show that the advantage wears off.
Still, for working parents who might feel they’re doing their child a disservice by having them in childcare, this is a good reminder that as long as the program is good quality (low child:teacher ratio; well-trained, warm teachers; decent structure) kids may actually take away valuable skills from the experience.