Nursery school boosts toddler development – study

A new study advises parents to place their children in nursery schools as early as two instead of leaving them at home with a nanny

An extensive study conducted by researchers at Oxford University has found that there’s a lot more developmental value in placing your child in nursery school, as early as two years old, than keeping them at home with a nanny.

The study points out that despite creating an enriching environment for learning at home, it’s still better to send your child to school.

“The benefits of early education and care were found regardless of a child’s family level of disadvantage,” according to the study. “Specifically, education and care with childminders at age two had a significant positive effect on children’s language development and behaviour at the age of three.

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“Group-based settings such as nurseries and playgroups were also shown to have positive effects on children’s socio-emotional development including how well they get along with other children.”

For the study, titled Study of Early Education and Development, researchers from the National Centre for Social Research together with Oxford University and Action for Children and Frontier Economics studied 6 000 children from England aged between two and seven. The Telegraph reports that this is the largest longitudinal study into the early years of education.

“The results from our study show how important children’s early environments, both at home and out-of-home, are for helping their development well-being,” Professor Edward Melhuish, an Oxford University researcher said in a report.

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The findings of this study are supported by one conducted in 2009 by the Institute of Education. It found that babies who had been looked after by their grandparents during the day weren’t as ready for school as they would have been had they attended nursery school.

The findings also reinforce the South African government’s efforts to make sure that children are placed in pre-primary level schools before they go to Grade 1.