A major national study has found that the length of time a child spends at a childcare centre in the first three years of life is associated with a particular set of problem behaviours by ages 4-5 years.
The study, conducted by researchers in the University of Adelaide’s School of Population Health, found that children who spend longer in centre-based childcare are more likely to be hyperactive, disruptive and aggressive at school age.
However, the study also found that these children were less likely to be withdrawn, anxious or depressed. The research was based on data of more than 3,200 children from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children and involved surveys of parents and teachers.
The project looked at children’s development following time spent at different types of childcare. PhD student Angela Gialamas, from the University’s Better Start Child Health and Development Research Group, says this research adds to the growing understanding of how childcare affects the behaviour and development of Australian children: ‘Much of the childcare research is coming from the US or the UK, but it’s important to see what is happening in the Australian context.
We need to better understand how childcare is contributing to children’s learning, development and transition to school.’