The outcomes of children are greatly influenced by the various environments encountered by them, most importantly family and child care settings. This is the reason why there has been an increasing interest in research concerning the consequences of child care experiences on the development of children. The experiences at day care not only promote school readiness skills in children but the quality of playgroup child care experiences also influence the cognitive and social skills in children during the preschool years, through the switch to school, and into the elementary school years (Peisner-Feinberg, 2004).
Such concerns hold significant importance because children who are unsuccessful in acquiring basic skills at an early age are not capable enough to negotiate life effectively as grown-ups. Such kids find inadequate opportunities for progression as they are not prepared for the world of work. Researchers suggest that children who do not succeed in mastering basic skills by 4th grade are more likely to face a number of problems in later life that include "dropping out of school, abusing substances, and becoming pregnant while still in their teens" (Finn-Stevenson & Zigler, 1999). Therefore, without a doubt, the experiences at home or at a day care facility where children spend a considerable part of their early lives influence their acquirement of basic skills that are significant for later achievement, accomplishments and success in school. In actual fact, a majority of children do not learn to read or write until they are enrolled in schools. However, they start learning and understanding the world from the moment of birth. With the passage of time, they become progressively more competent to organize their knowledge. It is in these early years that they also get hold of remarkable social and language skills that afterwards serve as the foundation for their aptitude to benefit from educational lessons (Finn-Stevenson & Zigler, 1999).
Child or day care can be described as care for immature children given by grown-ups who are not their parents. Relatives, nannies, or home care providers provide informal child care usually in a home setting whereas formal child care is provided by experienced and inexperienced caregivers typically in school or care centre surroundings (McCartney, 2004).
Currently, child care is a common part of children's life in the majority western countries. During their life's first year, most of the preschoolers are placed in some type of child care for a minimum of 10 hours. Over ae of families with young children are reliant on day care as a support for maternal service. Early childhood education is also offered by a formal child care. In actual fact, it is frequently impossible to differentiate the child care, nursery school, and preschool curriculum and activities. Over the last three decades, there has been a rapid increase in maternal employment which has consequently resulted in an increased dependency on child care for young children (0-5 years). This increase characterizes a remarkable shift in child rearing manners and modes and has also provoked several concerns regarding the child care risks to strong and vigorous child development (McCartney, 2004).
Parents have always been greatly concerned about the benefits and disadvantages of sending their children to formal day care. The first issue is that whether the removal of children from the parental care for several hours of the day would result in long-term emotional consequences or whether the interaction with other children and caregivers would improve the social skills and confidence of children. The second issue speaks about the school outcome of the children attending day care. It is of great concern to parents that whether their children after exposed to some pre-school learning would achieve improved, unchanged, or poorer educational results in their later school years.
A pre-school programme is considered by such signs as "early literacy, ability to follow instructions and conformity to adult expectations" (Goldschmied & Jackson, 2003). It is important to understand that the child develops separately as a unique individual with his/her own dynamic power to learn and grow. he/she needs adults as supporters and not as lecturers (Goldschmied & Jackson, 2003).
As already mentioned, the majority of preschool kids in the Western world spend at least some time in a surroundings in which they are looked after by somebody other than their parents. The increase in maternal employment is the main reason why the children of this generation have changed early experiences. Even though fathers are now more involved in the recent times in child care than they were a generation ago, this involvement does not pay off for the diminished availability of concern by working female parents. A number of families have relatives including grandparents, aunts, and older siblings for the daily care of young children. However, the trend seen in all Western societies to have smaller families has evidently increased the need of parents to get child care services outside the family. As a consequence, the number of preschool children in day care has become two times more since the last few decades. The fact that such a large number of children spend so much time in day-care facilities has led to concerns about the effects of these unconventional settings on the well-being and development of children (Clarke-Stewart, Gruber & Fitzgerald, 1994).
A lot of people fear that being in day care is harmful for the children and spoils them. People holding such beliefs paint a depressing portrait of day care. According to their opinion, children in day care might suffer the same fate as those who are brought up in asylums and orphanages, deprived of motherly love and sufficient encouragement. However, the situation today cannot be compared with the previous times. Children in day care are loved by their mothers and continue to have it at the end of each day. However, the question still revolves around the nature of the attention that the caregivers offer to children in day care and also the importance of separations from their mothers on a daily basis. According to research, the children do experience ill effects of prolonged separations from parents and this separation affects their immediate and lasting emotional health (Clarke-Stewart, Gruber & Fitzgerald, 1994).
There are, for sure, a lot of ways in which spending time in day care is dissimilar for children from their life at home with mother. There are dissimilarities in the number of children in the day care surroundings, the intensity and substance of the caregiver's education, and the regularity of proper learning activities. These diversities are revealed in the children's knowledge, skills and practices in the two dissimilar environments they encounter. Studies demonstrate that children in day care spend more time in intermingling with other children and have not as much frequent chat with adults than children at home. As compared to mothers, the day-care trainers were found to be less commanding and dictatorial, less critical, more helpful, more likely to "suggest activities, make tasks into games, respond to children's initiation of play, and mediate interactions with other children" (Clarke-Stewart, Gruber & Fitzgerald, 1994).
Research also shows that kids with familiarity to day care during the playgroup years have highly developed cognitive and language development and achievement as compared to children who never experienced day care and remained at home. Moreover, the intellectual development of children who go to fairly high-class day-care centers during their preschool years is much superior as compared to the development of children who do not attend such day care facilities or early childhood programs. Other studies reveal that children who attend day-care programs are noticeably unusual in their social manners and conduct. Such children are "more self-confident, outgoing, assertive, verbally expressive, self-sufficient, and comfortable, and less distressed, timid, and fearful in new situations" (Clarke-Stewart, Gruber & Fitzgerald, 1994). They are found to be more self-governing of their mothers in social situations. They are capable of going farther away and can spend more time comfortably and confidently in the absence of their mothers. They show more skills of socializing and make the first move in play with kids they are not familiar with. Such children also have more knowledge of social rules (Clarke-Stewart, Gruber & Fitzgerald, 1994).
Apart from the mentioned positive characteristics of being more autonomous and sociable, children who attend day care are frequently found to be "less polite, agreeable, and compliant with their mother's or caregiver's requests; louder and more boisterous, more irritable and rebellious, more likely to swear and have temper tantrums, and more likely to have behavior problems" (Clarke-Stewart, Gruber & Fitzgerald, 1994) as compared to the children who do not attend day care. Similarly, they show more aggression and are found to be more negatively associated with peers when compared with children who do not go to day care (Clarke-Stewart, Gruber & Fitzgerald, 1994).
When some particular elements of the day-care environment were studied, it was found out that the conduct and development of children are connected to the various aspects of…