New Report: Do Effects of Early Child Care Extend to Age 15 Years?

Posted by on May 24, 2010

More research showing early years to be crucial

New results from a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development show that low-quality care in the first few years of life can have a small but persistent impact on a child’s learning and behavior, The Washington Post reports. The study is the largest assessment of child rearing in the United States to date and has been tracking more than 1,300 children of various ethnicities, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds since 1991. Researchers found that obedience and academic problems among those who received low-quality care in their first 4 1/2 years of life continued through their 15th birthdays, unimpacted by the influence of other factors such as peers, teachers, and maturation. Teenagers who had received higher-quality childcare were less likely to engage in problem behaviors such as arguing, being mean to others, and getting into fights. Those who spent more hours in childcare of any kind were more likely to engage in impulsive and risky behaviors, and those who received moderately high- or high-quality care scored higher on tests gauging cognitive and academic achievement. “What was the surprise for us was that the effects at age 15 were the same size as we had seen in elementary school and just prior to school entry,” said Deborah Lowe Vandell of the University of California at Irvine, who led the analysis.

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