A hot topic among Filipino moms with preschool-aged kids is, well, school. When should you start nursery? Are those baby classes really necessary? How will all these affect my child's academic performance — and emotional development — in the future?
The Philippines' K to 12 curriculum only requires a child to finish and pass one year in kindergarten to qualify to enroll in grade 1. However, a lot of parents are sending their little ones to playschools and pre-kindergarten programs earlier than the recommended age of 5, which was set by the Department of Education (DepEd). And, at least, according to this study, they may be making a worthy investment.
A new study suggests sending kids to daycare and nursery can help prevent possible behavioral and socio-emotional issues later on.
Researchers from the Sorbonne University, in France, looked into the mental health and emotional developmen of almost 1,500 children from birth to 8 years of age. They tracked it via surveys completed by the kids' parents when the children were ages 3, 5 and a half, and 8. (The French government allows formal childcare education provisions to kids as young as age 3.)
Children who participated in the study had three different care backgrounds before enrolling in preschool: those who had childminders, like babysitters who have professional knowledge on child care and child development; kids who attended daycare or nursery before preschool; and children who were looked after by family and friends before starting school.
The results showed that children who attended daycare or nursery or were looked after by someone in a professional capacity before age 3 had better social skills development than children who did not. They even behaved better compared to kids who were raised by a nanny, a stay-home parent, or family member.
Early childhood education may boost language skills
"Access to high-quality childcare in the first years of life may improve children’s emotional and cognitive development, prevent later emotional difficulties and promote prosocial behaviors," Dr. Maria Melchior, one of the study's authors, wrote.
Previous studies have also shown that early childcare may help boost a child’s language and thinking skills and possible their academic performance in school.
Note that research also backs the current DepEd policy. Many parents send their children to toddler school for the same reasons: socialization skills and early academic skill development. They believe its better than staying home with the yaya and glued to screens. Kids who don't attend nursery school but are exposed to their peers and have proper early learning guidance from adults do thrive just as well.
It boils down to your toddler's readiness for attending nursery school, your choice of quality pre-kindergarten institution, and of course, your financial capacity to pay for an extra year.