The Upside of Daycare

After a brief attempt at full-time stay-at-home motherhood (which needed to end for several reasons, not the least of which being my Bejeweled addiction), I'm back in the full-time work game.

I'm thrilled to be working again and to be doing it here for The Stir, but it also means I have to find childcare for my 16-month-old daughter.


My first instinct was to hire a nanny, but besides being expensive, I don't think that's the best fit for Lila Claire. She's really social and loves the gym daycare and the children she plays with there. She cries when she has to leave and squeals with delight when she gets to go. Honestly, I think she gets bored staying home all day while her brother is at school, even if I'm here to play with her.

So I've been patching sitters together while I look around at childcare programs -- mostly ones that call themselves "preschools"; but for the toddler age, they're really one and the same for the most part. I've found a couple I love and think she'd be happy attending.

Only there's this little nagging in the back of my mind ... aren't daycare kids doomed to more illnesses, more television time, and poor behavior? Every time I turn around, it seems there's some other daycare drama or derogatory study.

So I was happy to read this headline recently: Good Childcare Has Benefits That Last Into High School -- But Free Play Time Is Important. It says there are cognitive and educational benefits that "quality" childcare provides.

"The current findings reveal that the modest association between early childcare and subsequent academic achievement and behavior seen in earlier study findings persists through childhood and into the teen year," said James Griffin of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.  

I don't put too much stake in any one of these studies, because there will always be another coming along to contradict each one. But I'm happy to see daycare getting some points for its positive impact rather than being bashed all the time.

When it comes down to it, every family has to decide what's best for their child and their situation ... and hope that's what it turns out to be.

Is your child in daycare? If so, what benefits do you think they get from it?


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