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Early Years: Providers deny childcare is linked to bad behaviour

Early years providers have responded angrily to research showing that the longer children spend in childcare centres, the more aggressive and disobedient they are at school.

The National Day Nurseries Association has said the research, led by Professor Jay Belsky at Birkbeck University, will needlessly worry parents and conflicts with research showing children who attend nurseries grow up to be higher achievers.

Belsky's research is based on findings from a study of 1,364 children in the US from the age of one month to 11 years, monitoring their childcare experiences and measuring their development.

The research revealed that the more time children spent in childcare centres from birth to the age of five, the more aggressive and disobedient teachers rated them during their primary school years, regardless of the quality of the childcare received. But it also noted the higher-quality care a child received, the better their language abilities.

Belsky said: "The UK Government's strategy of extending paid maternity leave through the first year of life and improving the quality of childcare is well advised. These strategies should reduce some of the time children might otherwise spend in centre-based childcare, thereby lessening aggression and disobedience and improving the learning experiences of children."

But Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the association, said: "It is unfair that nurseries are being blamed for children who are disobedient when they are older. Reports such as these are unhelpful and make parents feel guilty about working when many face little choice in the matter."

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