Day Care and IQ
So my son, Jasper, started day care this morning. Up until now, he's been cared for by a nanny during the day at our house while I've also been working at home. So this will be a transition for both of us (though the center is only 2 blocks from the house - so I will be a frequent lunch time visitor!)
Day care is a very controversial issue in our society, so it's been studied a reasonable amount, both for its effect on social development, and its effect on academic development. The findings are fairly mixed. That's because the quality of day care matters a great deal. High quality day care can actually improve language and academic development among at-risk children by giving them the stimulation they might not get at home. This can reverse the measured drop in academic ability that can sometimes occur for these children as they grow. For middle-class white children, high-quality day care appears to have no particular effect on language or academic development one way or the other, according to this study. On the other hand, long hours in not-so-great day care can increase aggression.
Every time a major study is released, the chattering heads on television give it lots of airtime. This commentary from City-Journal on Fear and Loathing at the Day Care Center, hints at some of the controversy. It is "common sense" to many people that children are best cared for in their homes, by their mothers. Some research does show that children of mothers who spend more hours devoted to childcare and less to working have higher academic achievement in early adolescence. But this same study found that women who have high levels of satisfaction with their childcare arrangements also had children with more scholastic competence in 6th grade. Women who are also satisfied with their "roles" have children with more scholastic competence. In other words, a woman who devotes her time to childcare simply because this is what everyone says she "should" do, but who isn't happy about it, isn't really gaining much by that choice.
I find it all fascinating. The issue of maternal employment and child achievement always gets people riled up. I'm curious what choices others on this board have made with their children, and whether they felt it affected academic achievement.