If You Send Your Child to Day Care, It’s Important to Pick the Right One


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Early education is an important part of your child’s development. Whether your child goes to daycare full time or only gets a couple of hours a day in preschool, such exposure and stimulation is important.

About 40 years ago, more than half of all kids had at least one parent at home full-time, almost always the mother. These days, however, less than one-third of families have a parent at home full time. That means more and more kids are in day care. Many of those children are in a private home or with a relative, but about one-quarter of them are in some sort of organized care setting such as a child care center or preschool.

Numerous studies have shown that the first three or four years of a child’s life are more important. It’s when they develop language skills and a number of other vital things. Having your child with an in-home provider or with a relative means he or she may not be getting the important stimulation and education necessary in these early years. For example, only about 50% of infants and toddlers are read to, even though reading aloud to them stimulates brain development, and they are less likely to get read to in an informal child care arrangement than in a formal one.

Having your child in a licensed child care center means you are more likely to have your child with staff who have training in early childhood education. That means your child is more likely to get formal instruction and be exposed to a proven curriculum. That can mean the difference between your child developing at a high level or falling behind in his or her development.

The sad truth is that whether a young child gets early education or not is often dependent on the family’s income level. Less than a quarter of kids with low-income parents get access to federally subsidized child care, which means they fall behind their peers.

While there are many positives to having a stay-at-home parent, there also are benefits to having your child in day care. If both parents must work, it’s important to do serious research and pick the right child care program for your child.

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