Ask the Experts | Why is attending a nursery important to your child’s early development?

2nd Aug 2016

Simply put, a child’s early years lay the foundation for all that is to come. In recent years, researchers have learned that the human brain develops the vast majority of its neurons in the first five years. During this time, it undergoes rapid development; building the child’s cognitive skills, social-emotional capacity, gross-motor skills and executive functioning – which includes everything from impulse control to problem solving. The intake of new information is critical to the formation of these neural pathways, and as such early education is hugely important.  

Research has shown that children who attend early learning programs demonstrate improved social skills, higher levels of school achievement, and enhanced attention spans. Children taught how to speak a second or third language during their early developmental years will also demonstrate higher levels of academic achievement across all subjects in later years.

Yet some people still have reservations about the importance of formal early childhood education and cite their child being too young or not ready as the main reasons for not opting for a nursery. Deciding to send your child to nursery can be a difficult decision to make, for others it may not be a choice but a necessity due to returning to the workforce. Regardless of you questioning the benefits of early education, or being guilt laden for having to return to work, you can be assured that the positive benefits of formal early years education will have a direct impact on your child’s development now and as later on as well as they progress to big school.


1. Nursery provides structured learning experiences and care for children

Staff in the nusery are trained to create and maintain a secure and stimulating environment for your child's developement. Some studies have also found that children who had spent three years or more in nursery education could advance their academic attainment by up to a year or two over those whose parents kept them at home until the age of five.

2. Nursery prepares your child for school

Children benefit immensely from mixing with other children and will therefore be more prepared and better equipped when it comes to starting school. They will also adapt easily to a learning environment, have greater social skills, and they will feel more secure in a different environment. Nursery will have also helped your child develop confidence in relating to adults. On another note nursery will have encouraged your child to find and use a tissue for their nose, wash their hands, tidy toys, and realize they sometimes have to wait for things, and take turns. Furthermore they will be taking part in activities that build on their abilities, interests, and propel their learning to greater heights.

3. Nursery encourages playtime

Your child will have a chance to play and learn in a group and one-to-one with a member of staff. They will also benefit from playing with other children, as this can help them to gain confidence and develop their social skills. An active toddler is likely to remain active later, so it is important to encourage activities both indoors and outdoors. You want your children to love the great outdoors, not the TV, one thing you do not see at a nursery is a television. At home it is very easy to turn on the TV to give yourself some time off. Play is vitally important as your children will develop muscle control, balance and coordination. The range of messy play activities at a nursery is far greater than can possibly be available at home, including water, sand, paint and glue.

4. Nursery supports potty training

If you send your children to nursery for several days a week, potty training will be working out easier for you. Potty training is obviously not the only reason to send your children to nursery, but the parental assistance from a lifestyle point of view is definitely helpful.

5. Nursery helps children develop social skills and make friends

Socailising with other children is a big part of preparing them for later life. They will be eager to engage with their peers and become aware of the attachment they feel towards children they regularly play with. Children get extrememly excited with the thought of playtime with their friends and toddlers gain a lot from mixing with other children.

6. Nursery also benefits parents

Your children are being looked after by nursery practitioners who have had a decent night’s sleep, enjoy their work and are paid to change nappies, manage tantrums and clear up food thrown on the floor. Parents feel more relaxed after having a break from their children, which can only be a good thing for parent and child. Nursery workers witness the behavior of our children from a completely different perspective and through experience. With this in mind they can be relied upon to offer constructive advice and opinion on the development of your children.

Article by Fruzsina Benyei-Anirudhan from Safari Kids Nursery

Shonkoff, Jack P. (Editor); Phillips, Deborah A. (Editor); Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC, USA: National Academies Press, 2000.

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