While the inability to ‘’do it all’’ can be stressful for parents and many agonize over whether to stay home with their child or return to work, they can rest assured daycare isn’t the negative option it’s sometimes perceived to be. There are many advantages of daycare. Daycare offers social and academic benefits that last well into adulthood.
Some perks of sending your kids to daycare include:
Stronger immune systems
When you put your child in daycare, you’ll feel like they’re always sick – and you’ll be right. Studies show that children who attend daycare as babies and toddlers get more respiratory and ear infections than those cared for at home. But that’s not all bad; getting those illnesses now means your child will be healthier later. The more exposure kids have to bacteria and viruses, the stronger their immune systems get, and the less likely it is they’ll get sick when they’re in elementary school.
And while there’s never a good time for your child to be sick, one could argue it’s worse when it means missing formal education.
Better social skills
As children, we learn social skills that will serve us for the rest of our lives. We’ll fine-tune them, of course, and they’ll grow more sophisticated, but the building blocks of socialization begin when we’re very young.
Socialization techniques kids must learn include:
- Taking turns
- Making friends
- Problem solving
- Conflict resolution
To develop these critical social skills, kids need exposure to children their age, various other ages, and authority figures other than their parents. A few of the advantages of daycare are that they offer a safe, structured, and well-supervised setting that facilitates this necessary interaction with other children and adults.
These skills are the foundation of all relationships, and studies show that children who attend daycare often display better relational skills with family, friends, and coworkers throughout their lives.
A smoother transition to school
Children who’ve attended daycare often find the transition to preschool or kindergarten easier for several reasons.
First, daycare provides a routine and structure that prepares kids for school schedules. Second, daycare gives children experience spending time away from their parents, which can prevent separation anxiety on school mornings. Third, daycare introduces kids to non-parent authority figures, which makes it easier to follow teachers’ rules.
In addition, studies have shown that children who attend daycare perform better academically when they get to school, with stronger reading and math skills.
Exposure to new things
As you’ve seen above, sending kids to daycare equals improved immune systems, stronger social skills, and being better prepared for formal school. Said another way, advantages of daycare include that it ensures kids see, experience, and learn new things, which is essential for development.
Other new things your child might encounter in daycare include:
- Foods. Children in daycare may be more willing to try new foods because they see other children and daycare staff eating it. (Bonus: Daycare centers offer healthy snacks.)
- Toys. With children, toys aren’t just things to play with – they’re learning tools.
- Activities. Good daycare centers offer a variety of activities – singing, dancing, story time, crafts, etc. – that children may not do at home. (Bonus: Many of these activities improve motor skills and increase attention spans.)
- Differences. The world is full of people who don’t look, act, or think like we do, and exposing kids to diversity – and teaching them to accept it – early encourages empathy and respect for others.
Support for parents
Studies have shown that even a small amount of interaction with other parents offers a feeling of community and provides immense benefits for your mental health. You may make friends with other parents at your daycare center, but even if you drop your child off in a rush every day, you can’t avoid the other parents – and that’s a good thing.
Sending your child to daycare needn’t be a heart-rending decision. There’s clear evidence that one of the advantages of daycare is that it offers long-term benefits. The interactions with supportive staff, rules, peer relationships, and learning opportunities provided at daycare give kids a behavioral, social, and academic boost, and meeting other parents and increasing your ‘’social capital’’ gives you a mental health boost. Sounds win-win to us.