The ongoing trend of single-parent families and families where both parents are in the workplace gives rise to the need for daycare for children who are either of preschool age or who are out of school for an extended period, such as summer vacation. Although the need for child care in these situations is unquestioned, each parent must ask themselves if being in the day-care center all day is harmful or beneficial for their child.
The question does not have a simple answer. A day-care center can provide a setting for the child that allows social interaction and intellectual stimulation. Being with others of their own age group provides the opportunity to learn valuable lessons in sharing, communication and empathy for others. Being in a setting that encourages creativity, growth and curiosity allows them to explore new directions in thinking and expression. Being in a social setting outside of direct parental control gives them exposure to working within a group and proper behavior in the greater world.
However, a day-care center can also provide a setting that encourages bullying, neglect or other negative situations that can be harmful to a child’s physical or emotional well-being. Being subjected to an unsupervised environment where the largest or most aggressive children can run roughshod over the more introverted children can provide terrible lessons to children at both ends of the dynamic. The aggressive children learn that they get what they want by force and the meek children learn that their wants and needs are always to be deferred to those of the aggressive ones.
The answer, then, lies in the quality of day care provided and by the philosophy of the Center itself as regards how the children will occupy themselves during the day and how much supervision the Providers put forth. Every parent is encouraged to check on the quality of service that their chosen day care center provides to insure that children are being given the sort of care that they give when the child is in the home.