Working parents, here’s something that might make you feel better. According to a new study published by the London School of Economics, sending your children to nursery or a daycare may be better for them than keeping them at home, as it helps them develop skills.
“It should give parents some reassurance that nurseries are not going to harm their children, and are likely to be beneficial,” co-author Dr. Laurence Roope told The Telegraph.
‘Overall it seems nursery has a significant impact on development’
Roope did point out that there is a trade-off between going to work and staying at home — one would mean having more family finances, while the other would strengthen the parent-child bond.
“Obviously there are different ways of interpreting the results. It could be there is a trade-off,” he said. “On the one hand, going out to work brings in more money for the family, which leads to more financial security and the ability to partake in more activities. But on the other hand it might mean that the bond between parent and child is not as great, particularly if the parent is coming in tired or stressed. But overall it seems nursery has a significant impact on development.”
The researchers also found that the more time the children spent in the nursery, the more benefit they got.
“We’re not saying that they should be spending 24 hours a day there, but it does seem spending more time there had significant benefits,” added Dr Roope.
The study looked at data that surveyed over 800 mothers, who were asked about their financial status, education, and the progress of their 2- and 3-year-old children.
Active parenting is key
Parents who choose to stay at home with their kids have something to learn from this study. Ultimately, it shows that the way children spend their time significantly impacts their development. Parents have to be more intentional with how they spend their time with their kids — in other words, active parenting is key. Roope explained, “It seems that what is important is engaging in interactive activities with the child.”
The study also looked at different activities and how they impact kids. To summarize, they found that:
- kids who spent more time under the care of their grandparents have better communication and social skills
- kids with more siblings have better overall skills
- reading and shopping make young children happiest
- reading, telling stories, and singing songs help with speech
- visiting other families with children also helps with speech
- singing and doing arts and crafts are good for motor skills and coordination
- surprisingly, taking walks outdoors had a negative effect on movement skills, probably because children spend long periods in buggies instead of using their bodies
Said co-author Professor Paul Anand of their findings, “We are delighted that one of first economic studies to look at the behavior of very young children comes out with positive messages about activity involvement with parents, and shows that different activities promote different skills.”
READ: Parenting Tips: Handling your kid’s first time at daycare