The Effects of Nurseries on the Children Development

Abstract

The development of children has been a topic of extensive research, and it has been found that educational establishments (such as nurseries and schools) are beneficial for children’s development at a very early age. In many countries, nurseries are regarded as an important step in children’s acquisition of motor skills, academic capabilities as well as social skills. Nonetheless, in the UAE, nurseries are still rather unpopular as children are mainly brought up at home by parents or nannies (and even domestic workers). Only 5% of Emirati children go to nurseries before they enter school.

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This study explores the effects of nurseries on the development of children between two and three years old. The quantitative research design was used to answer the research questions. To collect the data, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire and a social demographic questionnaire were used. The variables analyzed included the participants’ age, occupation, general information on children’s likes and dislikes as well as the time spent in nurseries. The study involved 60 parents of children aged between two and three years old. The participants were divided into two groups, including those who had enrolled their children in the nursery and those who brought up their children at home. It is found that children who are enrolled in the nursery display better motor, problem-solving, and language skills. The most evident benefit of nurseries is children’s development of social skills. This research contributes significantly to the knowledge base as it provides empirical data revealing the benefits of nurseries for children between two and three years old. This study also has important implications for the development of the Emirati society as it may become the platform for the development of a program promoting enrolment in nurseries, which will result in better academic outcomes for young Emiratis.

Introduction

During the mid 19th century, two levels of early childhood programs were developed in the United States. One level, established in the social welfare framework, concerned the requirements of the children. Whereas the second level was an arrangement of custodial “group child care” for low-wage families. It was established in the instruction framework that gave “preschool education” for the middle and upper-working classes (Cahan, 1989).

In many countries around the world, there has been a remarkable focus on pre-school education, which has promoted the development of children in varied ways. Psychologists found out that the cognitive skills of children are malleable at a younger age, which helps to build a strong foundation in early years of age (Passolunghi, Lanfranchi, Altoe, & Sollazzo, 2015). Thus, supporting them through nurseries would increase their level of educational skills in areas such as mathematics, reading, and vocabulary, which in terms would lead children to academic success in elementary and middle school (Yoshikawa, 2013).

Furthermore, Developmental outcomes would even have a huge succeeding influence on children’s abilities and skills in the future. This study is expected to analysis the impact of Emirate preschool on children’s development, which focuses on early childhood education from (2 to 4 years). As stated above, preschools programs help the child to be prepared for school and have yielded benefits in academic achievements (Karoly & Kilburn, 2005). It is obvious that children who stay back home are not introduced to such a curriculum, as the children who are in pre-schools and don’t have access to a professional trainer or teacher who may help to develop them cognitively, socially and academically. The home environment lacks uniformity and stimulation.

Literature review

Before developing the impact of pre-school children’s development according to the literature review, understanding the different development stages of the child is essential too. Different theory frameworks have been applied to explain the changes in terms of the cognitive or social developments of the child. A case in point is the Erikson’s Development Theory and Bandura’s Theory.

Erikson’s development theory

Erikson’s theory centers on psychosocial stages of development. The theory was significantly influenced by Freud’s Theory on the topography of personality (McLeod, 2008). This theory is divided into eight stages that take place from early childhood to early adulthood. Successful completion of each stage leads to a more adaptive personality and helps the individual to gain the basic virtues that relate to the particular developmental point. Therefore, one stage gives the person characteristics that are critical in resolving the requirements of the next stage, and failure to successfully complete one stage can negatively affect the following developmental stage.

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As this study focuses on children between 2 and 4 years, we are going to present the two significant psychosocial crises they need to address during this period. According to this theory are in the second and the third stages. The second stage is autonomy versus shame and doubt. The ages between 18 months and 3 years are marked by the child acquiring the basic virtue of ‘will’ if he/she successfully completes the stage.

Erikson noted the need for the caregivers to ensure a delicate balance. A sense of autonomy and self-control is a strategic way of growth where parents guide their children’s behavior gradually and firmly, whereas if parents are either too tolerant or too rough during this stage, the child will experience the sense of defeat that can lead to shame and doubt (Erikson, 1963). The child should not be assisted in every task because self-control is required but in a careful manner to avoid the loss of self-esteem. The nursery care setting allows the young kids to interact with their peers by playing, therefore giving the opportunity for the child to develop important social skills at an early age. Children also interact with trained professionals who monitor and assign them tasks that are relevant to the child’s developmental stage. Proper care at this stage will lead to the child becoming more secure and confident.

The third stage in the psychosocial crisis is initiative versus guilt. This stage takes place in children aged between three and five years. This period is characterized by most parents deciding to take their children to pre-school. In Initiative, the children start to find themselves what kind of person wants to become, where they also have curiosity about their friends but mostly their parents and surroundings. Children develop sense of guilt if they were punished several times in the other hand if parents understand the way of guiding their child then it turns into sense of purpose which is a beginning of setting life’s goals (Erikson, 1963).

According to the theory, children are supposed to acquire ‘purpose’ as a basic virtue. In order to achieve the desired virtues, Burger (2010) emphasizes the need for the children being put in the right environment. In fact, the initiative vs. guilt is characterized by energy action where children actively interact with other kids and identify friends. A key feature is that the children are more playful and can organize their play activities such as making creative games which are signs of cognitive development, and there is the need for a caretaker who can guide the children at the stage in order to build their learning capabilities (Goodman & Sianesi, 2005).

In the review of the children’s development, these stages could be best realized if the child is put in an environment that promotes holistic development (McLeod, 2008). In this effect, the theory gives a critical view of the various stages of the development that can be applied to understand the needs of the children right from infancy. The main emphasis is on providing the child with the best environment that will enhance positive development.

Bandura’s social learning theory

In this theory, Bandura’s argument is on behaviorist development based on operant conditioning and classical conditioning. The theory states that processes take place when there is a stimulus and a response. He affirms that and behavior is learned from a particular environment through an observational learning. In the context of the children development, children learn by observing the behavior of the people they interact with. The perspective of classic conditioning or operant conditioning means that children will have differences based on the environment they are exposed to during their early years (Bandura, 2001).

Bandura explains that environment provides the models from which the children can symbolize their behavior. Similarly, the behavior learned is reinforced by the internal or external factors which come into contact with the child.

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In addition to the above Bandura’s theory holds the view that all humans are information processors is the mediation process learning. In this process cognitive dimension is an important aspect for the observational learning. The theory proposes four critical meditational processes which determine how the child develops.

Bandura’s social learning theory.

Attention, retention, reproduction and motivation figure 2. Attention refers to the extent a child is exposed to a given behavior, retention entails formation of the memory of the behavior, while in reproduction, Bandura shows that social learning does not take place immediately and therefore there is a need to put the child in an environment where the desired behavior can be reproduced. The last function which is motivation relates to Social cognitive theory which differentiates between gaining and performance because children do not perform everything they learn. Bandura identified two ways of learning, vicarious and enactive (Schunk & Usher, 2012).

The former implies learning through observing while the latter is associated with learning from actions and reactions (reward or punishment). It has been acknowledged that vicarious learning (involving observation) does not necessarily result in performing though some skills and knowledge may be acquired. In other words, students may know the algorithm of doing something, but they do not use their knowledge to perform the tasks at the necessary level of competency. One of the reasons may be their desire to be just like the rest of students who may fail to grasp the necessary material and perform assigned tasks (Schunk & Usher, 2012). Rather through the full development processes that the child starts to develop critical evaluation, where there is a significant differences domains of child’s developments. Just like the case of the Erikson’s theory, the environment of growth determines how well the child fully acquires the processes.

The early childhood education has gone through lots of changes since the 1990s. In old days’ preschools were not as important as nowadays, since mothers stayed home with children compared to working mothers who leave their child back home or spend their time in the nurseries. Currently the important concern is the high quality curriculum for pre-schools and schools as well. It is obvious that high-quality nursery care has a longer positive implication on the development of the child as a learner (Yoshikawa, 2013).

Today, many parents are involved with different work activities and do not have enough time to monitor the development of their children and expose them to the right socialization processes. The nurseries however provide the opportunity for the child to grow in an environment that focuses on an overall development in terms of social and learning abilities that are key to their future. It has been acknowledged that children’s enrolment in nurseries is associated with significantly higher achievements during the middle school compared to those who stay at home (Gottfried, Le, & Datar, 2016).

The early a child develops, the early a child strengthen a foundation for long-life in learning, health and behavior. In addition, parents have to understand the sequence the child development and the procedure in building their skills. Children developmental domains that have to set up in consideration are physical, social, emotional, communication language and cognitive (Bertrand, 2007).

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This does not necessarily point that the developmental stages as pointed in the theory can be developed only at the nursery. In fact, with children who are not disadvantaged at their home environment, cognitive and language development can still take place (Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2013).

At the ages of two and three years, children need to be conditioned to a learning environment that will influence their future. In the review of the role of the pre-school in the development of the children, Goodman and Sianesi (2005) pointed out the learning environment at nursery reinforces learning abilities for the children and creates a foundation from which they can understand some aspects such as language gaining.

In a report on the role of pre-school in Australia, Productivity Commission (2014) stated that a “nurturing, warm and attentive careers are the most critical attributes of quality in any child care setting, especially for younger children” (p.8).

Importance of nurseries in children’s development in the UAE

It is known that the role of the nursery is to provide a safe environment for a child in terms of developing cognitively and socially, since children have many stages of developments as mentioned in the previous Erikson development theory. Although this is a common knowledge in the west, in the UAE education is a general, and pre-school is a particular, is still very recent and not all families enroll their children in nurseries.

In fact, some families still prefer to retain their children at home until they go to school. An Emirati article in the newspaper mentioned that “A maid is an economic alternative and provides a long list of services” (Sinha, 2016). Indeed, a maid’s monthly salary is usually between 1000 and 2000, depending on her nationality, to do home and child duties at once. Comparing, nurseries in the UAE are much more expensive as it costs around 9000 DHS per semester. According to the Emirates247 newspaper, nine percent of people prefer that their child stays with a typical nanny who is a high school graduate and have courses in communication, health, family, and psychology and takes care of the child. Whereas the majority believe that nannies or maids are able to take care of a child and doing the households at the same time (Kapur, 2012).

Another Report states that parents from the UAE start to prepare and search for nannies in the agencies before delivering the baby because in some cases the mother is working to support her husband’s income and her family members are not free to babysit the child. It is currently common to have several nannies in one house looking after the children. Gulf News newspaper mentioned that 95% of children in Dubai are reared by nannies (Dhal, 2011).

Compared to nurseries where Children have the chance to interact with others who are enrolled in the child to develop his communication skills with more people in a regular basis.

Children are improving in language and literacy skills which develops their millstone (Zaman, 2016). Communication skills and getting used to others will improve the child’s self-esteem and this will lead this child to build a strong performance when talking with others.

As has been mentioned above, a small rate of Emirati parents send their children to nurseries due to financial constraints or their fears concerning the quality of services provided at such facilities (Dinar, 2015). At that, there are many people who believe that nurseries can help their children develop the skills that will be necessary for their future academic and even professional life. Interestingly, Emirati parents put a significant value on the development of social skills in nurseries. They believe that their children will benefit during their academic life if they learn how to interact with others (peers and adults) effectively. Therefore, many Emirati parents choose nurseries instead of relying on nannies and homeworkers as the domestic environment cannot provide the necessary setting for the development of social skills.

Aim/s and objective/s / hypothesis

The main focus in this study was to determine whether there were developmental differences between children aged 2-3 years who go to nursery and their counterparts who do not go to the nursery. The reason for selecting these age groups was because they are the years where the basis for the development of the academic and social foundations for the young ones are stimulated (Burger, 2010).

  1. To analyze the effects nursery has on the development of the children.
  2. To analyze if there is a positive benefit for enrolling children aged between 2 and 3 years in nurseries.

Methodology

Instruments

In order to collect reliable data for this study, we used a quantitative method which provided empirical data that was used to test the hypothesis. The data was collected from parents whose children were aged between two and three years.

The data collection instrument used was the Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ) with 40 items and a social demographic questionnaire with 30 items (Squires & Bricker, 2009). This questionnaire gave a general overview information about the parent and the child. The variables captured by the social demographic questionnaire were the age of the participants, nationality, occupation, the average time the child spends with the parents and the general information on the likes and dislikes of the child. The ASQ questionnaire’s versions differed on the basis of the child’s age as it analyzes their development state. (6 versions we used between months 24 and 42) It was through these questionnaires that the parents provided objective data about their children.

In the ASQ questionnaire there were 5 domains that were related to the child’s development stage where first dimension was about the child’s communication and how they respond when asked to identify, understand the words and point on directions and words combination. Second was gross motor skills and how well was their bone structure and if the child could walk, jump, run, using the stairs, etc. Third was fine motor skills which is responsible for the movement connected to small muscles in hands and fingers with eye coordination. Fourth was problem solving which was about using mental skills that included thinking. Finally, personal social, relates to his interactions with others and himself and understanding others.

Sample

The sample size used for the study was 60 parents. This sample was divided into two groups. The first group included parents of children who attend nursery while the second group was for parents whose children were not going to the nursery. The main reason for dividing the sample was to provide data that can be comparatively analyzed in order to establish whether there are developmental differences between the children who attend nursery and who do not attend. In this study, the targeted population were children who could not provide the required data so their parents were used as the key study participants to provide the required information. Plus, parents are best placed to provide objective information that related to the growth and development of their children. Therefore, the sampling frame were the parents with children aged between two and three years old.

Children from all continents, Europe, America, Africa, Asia and the Arabs from the middle east and the surrounding countries did the research regardless of their nationality. There were more Arab children not enrolled in nursery at the age of 2-3 years old. Compared to children from Europe, America, Africa and Asia where enrolled in nursery at this age despite their stay in the United Arab Emirates which is one of the Arab countries participant participated graph 2.

Nationality.
Graph 2
Does your child have own maid Frequency Percent
Children have maids 25 41.7
Children don’t have maids 35 58.3
Total 60 100.0
Table 3

Graph 2, however states the contrary which can clearly be signified from the fact that employed parents had to enroll their children in nurseries due to life circumstances. Most of these parents enrolled their children in pre-schools before they become one year because both parents had to leave for work and did not want to have a house maid for their child. However, children whom are not enrolled in the nurseries, have their mother stay home with them in addition to the help of the maids probing some of these children into slow development. Table below shows = 25 children who have their own maid, and = 35 who do not have maids.

Procedure

This study procedure was first to seek ethical clearance from the concerned authorities at the university. After the clearance had been given, the appropriate data collection tool was prepared and evaluated to determine whether it could collect reliable and credible data.

All the study participants were required to fill a social demographic questionnaire. For the parents with the kids going to nursery, the parents were identified from the children attending Inspire Children Nursery and were expected to collect their questionnaires from the nursery. For the other group of parents, they were identified through convenience sample. This process ensured that all the questionnaires were answered and returned back for the next analysis.

The data collected was then entered in a computer for SPSS analyze and different studies using and one-way ANOVA were executed. The application of the procedures ensured that the desired information was collected, which helped in providing the answers to questions that seek to find out the benefits of the nursery in the development of the child.

Results

The tested sample used independent samples t-test, one-way ANOVA and frequency to analyze the difference between two groups of tested sample in SPSS. The aim of this study was to prove that nurseries had effects on child’s development in ages 2-3 and the benefits of nurseries in enrolling children at this age. Results have shown a significant difference in children’s development benefits during the pre-school years.

t-test for Equality of Means Sig. (2-tailed)
Total score for communication .282
Total score for gross motor skills .081
Total score for fine motor skills .002
Total score for problem solving .015
Total score for personal social .466
Table 1

This table above shows table 1, children enrolled in nurseries vs. children not enrolled in nurseries in relation to communication, gross and fine motors skills development as the significant value is.002 (i.e.=.002) which is below 0.05 and therefore, there is a significant difference in the mean in total score of fine motor skills. The most significant value was in personal social.015 (i.e.=.015) which is below 0.05.

Gender
Graph 1

There was genders inclusiveness in this study. Males and females had almost the same level of scores in ASQ level of communication, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving and personal social skills. All scores were above the significant score.005. An indication that children are having the same level of education in this age as shown in the table below, table 2. And there was no discrimination in education between gender. Total number of males 36 and females 24 graph 1.

Gender Sig.
Total score for communication .230
Total score for gross motor skills .504
Total score for fine motor skills .763
Total score for problem solving .394
Total score for personal social .305
Table 2

The study showed that parents who have a maid in the house, spend less time with their children leaving the parental duty in the hands of the maids who intern spends most time nurturing these children. Likewise, working fathers spend less time with their children while mothers are reportedly where spending around 8-9 hours with their children. The maximum time father spend with their children was in between 3-4 hours as shown in table 4 below. Employed mother’s children had a significant difference in ASQ level of communication, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving and personal social skills. Total score of communication was 0.05 which is an average value of significant. Children with employed fathers had a significand differences in fine motor skills and problem solving, fine motor skills it scored.052 and problem solving scored.006 which is below the average.

Time spent with children
Graph 3
Fathers employment Sig.
Total score for fine motor skills .052
Total score for problem solving .006
Table 4

The below table 5 shows the ANOVA analysis significant between children enrolled in nurseries and those who are not enrolled in relation to independence and socializing. Children in nursery scored.612 in independence which is above the value 0.05(i.e., =0.05) and.171 in interaction and playing with siblings which is also above the value 0.05(i.e., =0.05). children who were given whatever they wanted scored.190 which is also above the value 0.05(i.e., =0.05). Children who felt jealous from their sibling scored.046 which is below the value (i.e., =0.05). in compression to children with maids who scored.018 which is likewise below the value resulting to a significant difference in the mean from children who are enrolled in nurseries and those not enrolled.

Sig.(2tailed)
Is your child independent .612
Does your child play/ interact with his siblings .171
Does your child feels jealous from his siblings .046
Does your child have his own maid .018
Table 5

Conclusion and Recommendations (500 – 700 words)

This study is associated with a number of limitations as well as significant contributions. As far as the contributions are concerned, the research adds to the knowledge base concerning the benefits of children’s enrolment in nurseries for the development of their motor, language, and social skills. The benefits have been described in a significant detail with older children, but this study sheds light on the outcomes for younger children (those aged between two and three years old). This study can also be regarded as a considerable contribution to the debate taking place in the UAE. The data obtained can be used to support the nursery enrolment of children at an early age. On a larger scale, this study can be the necessary step in the development of a project aimed at encouraging Emirati parents to enroll their children in nurseries at the age of two. The change in people’s perspectives on the matter can be beneficial for the entire system of the Emirati education as children will be more prepared for their further academic life.

It is noteworthy that the study also has certain limitations. For instance, the use of convenience sampling can be associated with a significant degree of bias. The number of participants is rather small (only 60 parents) that can affect the data generalizability. More so, parents living in a particular community and who enrolled their children in one nursery took part in the research, which also poses some threats to the results’ generalizability. This community can be characterized by certain traditions and values that could affect parents’ choices. It is also unclear whether other nurseries provide services of the same quality and children acquire the same skills. There are chances that children enrolled in other nurseries can reveal poorer results. Furthermore, little attention is paid to such important factors as the socioeconomic status of families and educational background of parents. These variables can have a considerable impact on parents’ choices and children’s performance. For instance, more well-off parents can hire more professional nannies.

As for the recommendations for the next steps, it is possible to consider a number of options. For instance, it is necessary to include more participants into the study. Radom sampling should be utilized. At that, it is essential to involve parents living in different communities (or even emirates) and children enrolled in different nurseries. It can also be beneficial to pay more attention to gender issues. It is mentioned that there are quite insignificant differences concerning skills children of different genders have. However, with a larger number of participants these differences can become more apparent. Hence, it is essential to provide the corresponding data.

The further step can also be the development of a comprehensive program aimed at encouraging parents to enroll their children in nurseries. This project can involve one emirate (for example, Dubai). First, it is possible to develop discussions with Emirati parents (having more than one child) that can take place in nurseries or schools where their older children are enrolled. The program will be based on the findings of this study and will also involve attendance of classes at nurseries. This project can be evaluated and further developed to be used in other emirates. The program can potentially lead to a significant improvement of the educational system as children entering schools will be more prepared and will be able to perform better and achieve significant academic results.

References

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