childThe effects of daycare on very young children are controversial. Added to that is the effect of before and after school care once the children have started primary school. Commuter parents are taking to putting their children in care before school opens in the morning, but an Australian study finds that, for school beginners at least, this can lead to problems such as hyperactivity and aggression:

A controversial study by Kay Margetts of Melbourne University’s Graduate School of Education suggests the increasing trend towards putting children in before-school care while parents commute to work has a damaging impact on their performance, both academic and social.

“Based on this result, I think it’s important to limit the number of changes children have to experience when they start school,” Associate Professor Margetts told The Australian.

“The child is out of home for long hours and this can make them very tired.”

The study found the influence of attendance at before-school care in the early weeks of schooling increased over time, leading to a range of difficulties at the end of Year 5, including “lower levels of co-operation, self-control and academic competence and higher levels of hyperactivity and externalising behaviours”.

“However, these results were not mirrored for attendance at after-school-hours care,” she said.

Prof Margetts found that the negative effects of before-school care persisted in some children through to the end of primary school.

The study also concludes that children who were in care for longer periods two and three years before starting school had lower levels of co-operation and academic competence and higher levels of externalising behaviours.

Prof Margetts is in favour of family members and nannies providing children with more intimate care — and government assistance for “the primary caregiver model”.

Read more at The Australian.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet