A debate exists about the consequences of enrolling one’s child into a daycare. On the one side, people believe this ultimately produces child prodigies and on the extreme, teenage delinquents. The truth, however is somewhere in the middle. The benefits or disadvantages generally result from the quality of the daycare one chooses. This stems from several factors like teacher to student ratio, and the amount of attention the child gets from the teacher. A daycare center provides the child an alternative environment from his home where he can interact with his peers and at the same time learn basic academic skills in preparation for kindergarten. This helps the child adapt with ease to the often difficult transition from the environment at home to the classroom once he starts to go to school. It also provides an opportunity for the child to learn social skills as well as build a foundation for independence since he is away from his parents. It also helps the child expand his vocabulary and allows him to learn respect for the ideas and emotions of others through his interaction with his peers.
On the other hand, poor quality daycares – those which don’t provide enough attention to the children and are unable to give the education needed for growth and adjustment – affect the development of the children negatively. Understaffed daycares with low child to teacher ratio are unable to properly care for the children. In time, the numbers drop to a teacher per fifteen students by the time the children are of preschool age. Daycare licensing guidelines states the ideal teacher to student ratio to be 1:15 for children ages four to five years old which may not be followed due to the fluctuating population of drop-in students. According to the National Institute of Health, results of a long term study showed children who were enrolled in poor quality daycares tend to show aggressive behavior more often and constantly crave for attention. These behaviors would continue to the sixth grade. This kind of behavior may be due to the need to get or compete for attention at a very young age often displayed by children which come from large families as well. In a typical group of both misbehaved and well behaved children, the well behaved children are often set aside and sit in a corner quietly as the teacher deals with the misbehaved ones. Innocently, the well behaved children who get less attention, copy the attitude of the misbehaved children to get the attention they crave.
Quality should definitely be factored into choosing which daycare to enroll one’s child into. It should have a low teacher to student ratio with one teacher for every two or three kids ages 0-1 (infants) with a gradual increase as the children get older. It is important for the numbers to be adequate for individual attention. Teachers should be well equipped to care for the children, specifically with experience and training in child development and psychology to allow them to detect any problems with the children at an early stage. More importantly, they should display a genuine love for children. Of course, the teachers in daycares are not the only ones responsible for the development of the children. The parents ultimately play the biggest role in their child’s development which is why it is important for them to be continually conscious of their child’s activities while in the daycare. They should be involved and should always be updated of their child’s progress allowing them to immediately take action should the need arise preventing any damage that may prove to be irreversible.
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