It is with great embarrassment that I confess that my daughter’s first word was “mall.” This was shortly followed by “shoes.” I don’t even want to think about what this must say about me. Ironically, it says little about her.
Anyone who knows my daughter knows that fashion is of no concern to her. Her only rule is comfort—although this has a daily changing definition and frequently does not fit into the norm of what you and I might define as comfort. For example, she takes after my husband and is quite thin. Pants cannot be loose under any circumstances. And when she was in kindergarten it was our morning ritual for her to throw a temper tantrum about her socks. Of course in hindsight I wonder why I just didn’t let her go without them—it only gets so cold in North Carolina in the winter.
But I digress. Yes her first words were shopping centric, but the point is she spoke them pretty early. And she continued to develop language skills at a fairly rapid rate. I’m sure there were many factors that influenced her language development. What I learned recently from researchers here at FPG is that I also was lucky that she was in a quality child care program.
I have always been under the misguided notion that parents could make up for anything academic that might be lacking in a child care environment. Perhaps this was how I made myself feel better since I had to go back to work when she was three months old.
Well I was wrong. This study showed that in every language development measurement used, children in higher quality child care programs significantly outperformed those in lower quality care. The kids in the study all came from two-parent families who had some level of higher education and were of middle income.
So how do you find a quality program? There are lots of resources out there to help guide you. One that I used when looking at childcare programs was an interview sheet I downloaded from BabyCenter. They have an updated version available online. The National Association for the Education of Young Children also is a good resource.
If you want more info about the study, you can read the summary online.