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Evaluate the research evidence into day care's effects on social and cognitive development

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Introduction

Bowlby said "separation in infancy causes serious emotional and cognitive consequences" Evaluate the research evidence into day care's effects on social and cognitive development Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis suggests that separation during the child's first 7 months - 3 years could cause serious damage in the progress of social and cognitive development. This suggests that day care could have negative effects on both. However there is much evidence to suggest otherwise. For example, that of Andersson and the Headstart programme. There have been many different studies suggesting that day care holds back cognitive development in children. For example, in 2000, Ruhm surveyed 4,000 babies and found that if mothers worked in the first year of a child's life (and therefore leaving the child in day care), 3 and 4 year olds had worse verbal skills. He also found that 5 and 6 year olds had worse maths and reading skills if their mothers worked in the first 3 years of their lives. Another study conducted by Ermisch and Francesconi (2000) found a negative correlation between the child's IQ and the amount of time the mother had spent away from the child in the first few years of their life. However, as this is a correlational study, there is no proof of causality. ...read more.

Middle

However, in the long run, these children were found more likely to obtain a higher education certificate than those underprivileged children who had not received care. This suggests that, although day care may impede certain children's cognitive development, it seems to improve the development of children who may perhaps be poorer or have a poorer background. There has also been research conducted into the effects day care has on the social development of children. To study social development, researchers operationalised it into things such as the ability to make friends, the tendency to seek the company of others, negotiating skills, showing enjoyment with other children etc. Bowlby's theory suggested that it was the continuous emotional care from a primary caregiver that founded the basis of all later relationships. So, although Bowlby is saying that separation due to day care may severely damage the social development of a child, it could be argued that suitable alternative emotional care could avoid this from happening, as long as the care was of good quality. However, research conducted by Belsky and Rovine (1988) used The Strange Situation to assess the social development of children who had been receiving day care for more than 20 hours a week before the age of 1. These babies were found to be more insecurely attached than those who didn't attend day care. ...read more.

Conclusion

The NICHD found that only 23% of infant-care providers gave "highly" sensitive care to children. 50% was considered moderate and 20% was said to "emotionally detached from the infants under their care". A study conducted by Andersson (1992) looked at children in Swedish day care. This was considered to be of an extremely high quality. He found that children in day care before the age 1 did better at school than children who hadn't been to day care. This supports Vandell et al.'s claim that it was the quality of the care that mattered, not whether the child was in day care or not. It could be argued that mothers who have to work wouldn't provide good quality care at home and therefore would damage the social and cognitive developments of their children. Schaffer and Emerson said that children weren't always attached to the person that they spent the most time with, suggesting that attachments aren't related to quality, but in fact quality. Overall, the studies seem to suggest that day care only damages the social and cognitive development of children if they receive worse care than they would receive at home from their parents. There seems to be more studies to suggest that day care may improve the skills of the children, especially in the social development as they are put into a social situation. This disagrees with Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis and causes us to question the development of a child's social and cognitive development at home. ...read more.

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