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March 26, 2007

Here We Go Again

There I was this morning, relaxing on my train commute from the Silicon Valley to San Francisco (the most peaceful time of my day) and there IT was, on the front page of the NY Times.  "Poor Behavior is Linked to Time in Daycare".  I just checked online and it's the second most frequently emailed article today, right after a truly shocking story about how long-term care insurers are stiffing their policyholders.

But back to the early part of life.  The study purportedly shows that putting preschoolers in day care center for a year or more makes it more likely that they will be "disruptive in class", all the way till 6th grade.  But here's the second paragraph:

"The effect was slight, and well within the normal range for healthy children, the researchers found. And as expected, parents’ guidance and their genes had by far the strongest influence on how children behaved."

However, the effect is said to go across all income levels and all quality of day care centers and it is a pretty lengthy and comprehensive study.

The silver-lining?  They're articulate while they're being disruptive. The study also shows time spent in higher quality daycare is linked to higher vocabulary scores throughout elementary school.

There's a punch line here but I just can't think of it right now.  Maybe it's because I was never in daycare.

Now, none of my kids have ever been in a day care center.  When I've been working, we've had nannies although my oldest son did spend some time at a small home-based family day care.  According to this study, that doesn't count.

But you know what? I still don't buy it.  There are too many outside factors involved and if you dig deep, there are plenty of flaws in the study methodology. Also one of the examiners was behind a big anti-day care trend in the 80's so I smell hidden agenda.

Bottom line though, it just looks like another divisive ploy and what's the point? Making working mothers feel guilty?  Trust me, at some point we all do, and that's if we're lucky enough to even have a choice to work or not.

The one thing I'd like to avoid here is blaming the media.  Flawed or not, this is federally financed major study involving top universities and researchers.  Of course they're going to report on it.  Any "stirring up" comes from the content of the news, not necessarily the way it's being reported.

I just hope it doesn't ruin the day for some poor, struggling single mom.

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