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Update: Science still hates you

May 15, 2010

"Jimmy, your mom is here to pick you up."

Getting comfortable with your parenting skill and choices? Science has a cure for that. From USA Today:

Children who attended high-quality childcare as babies and toddlers do slightly better on academic tests at age 15 than kids who were in lower-quality care, according to the largest and longest-running study of its kind, released today from the National Institutes of Health.

Day care arrangement also affected teens’ behavior.

So if I’m, let’s say, a single working parent and the only thing I can afford is one of those chain daycares staffed by high school dropouts? Well, then, I’m failing my children.

But what does “high-quality childcare” really mean, anyway? Oh, that’s easy:

In the new study, more than 40% of children were in care that was “high-quality” or “moderately high-quality,” on a 4-point scale based on the warmth, support and intellectual stimulation provided.

Sure. “Warmth, support and intellectual stimulation.” That’s easy to measure. I think they have a handheld gauge for that, like a Geiger counter, only instead of radiation it measures the emotional cancer you’re inflicting on your child.

I think my favorite part of all this study is that it was conducted not by some private university or research group, but by a presumably tax-funded federal agency. Which means that when those of us without the money to send our kids to a pre-school that costs $35,000 a year for five days a week see the huge chunk taken out of our paychecks for taxes, we can know that the money went, in part, to funding a study that makes us feel like assholes. Thanks, science.

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