This week saw the publishing of a report that has certainly attracted a lot of media debate, as it claims that children who are cared for at nursery do significantly better when it comes to social skills and making the transition into school, than those who are cared for by grandparents. All very interesting…..perhaps it should be no surprise that co-existing with other children in a group setting should make it easier to move into formal schooling, or that nursery staff are part of an organised structure which mirrors the school environment to some extent.
However, it is important to note that children who are cared for by grandparents do tend to have better speech development, largely due to the amount of one-to-one attention they get and the fact that some grandparents will replace activity with conversation. This is an area that we should be working harder at within nursery settings and it is encouraging that the new Early Years Foundation Stage places such emphasis on children having a Key Person, who forms a special relationship with them and is undoubtedly one of the main influences on language development.
However, I have to say, that as a working mum I was always delighted to rely on my parents to provide childcare and they were a great support, helping out when nursery was not available or when minor ailments prevented the children from going. Parents face so many choices these days, I do feel it is important not to judge whatever a family decides works for them. Whether grandparents are the solution, or nurseries, or a mixture of both, reports like these at least give us the opportunity to see how we can make the best of whichever option we choose.
For more information on this report see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/feb/10/grandparents-childcare-pre-school?dm_i=2MN,L2D,5SBSA,14TS,1