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I have never claimed to be one to write the most popular opinions of our time. In fact, there are times when I intentionally attempt to think outside the box simply to offer a unique perspective — even if it is one I do not agree with.

I won’t say which category this one falls under, but I do want to bring light to something.

Legislators in Des Moines are working hard to address a child care crisis in the state of Iowa. They are essentially going to incentivize and help provide funding for child care facilities in the state. There are many bills addressing this issue.

Coincidentally, there’s a classroom behavior crisis in Iowa. The Iowa Senate has already passed a bill to address this concern and it is making its way through the Iowa House.

But here is a thought I’ve had…what if solutions to the child care crisis are actually fueling the problems in the classroom?

What if sending kids to daycare and preschool at a younger age is the reason kids are acting out in schools?

During the debate in the Iowa Senate, it was said that the largest increase in classroom misbehavior was among K-2 students. It wasn’t a small increase, either. Sen. Jackie Smith said the largest percentage of removals for behavior happened in grades K-2. It had gone up 82 percent.

Eight-two percent.

That is a huge number.

Before I get into any study or science on the matter, I want to just throw out a few things:

1. It doesn’t have to be the mom who stays home to raise a child. It could be a dad. It could be a grandma or a grandpa. It could be an uncle or an aunt. It could be somebody within the family.

2. It is just instinct that tells me children will do best when they have a consistent adult figure around them who is solely focused on the kid. They’ll learn expectations, they’ll receive more attention and they’ll feel much more nurtured than they otherwise would.

3. Instead, more and more parents are sending their kids to daycare.

I get not everyone can make being a stay-at-home parent work. I also get not everyone is around family or has an option but to send their kid to day care. I get it.

I’m not saying that day care can’t suit its purpose. I’m strictly saying I’m not so sure day care is the best option for a child.

Children naturally want attention. It’s built into every kid. And at day care, what kid receives the most attention?

The one who misbehaves.

So, when the child who misbehaves receive the most attention, what will other attention-seeking children think they need to do to receive attention?

An article on Psychology Today has this subhead:

“Are researchers telling parents the whole truth about day care? The verdict isn’t good and parents won’t like it.”

The first sentence of the story is:

“It could be the greatest social experiment of our time, in which millions of parents are unwitting participants.”

The article states that an estimated 12 million American infants, toddlers and preschoolers (more than half of children in the age group) attend daycare. And, the majority of those kids spend close to 40 hours per week in day care. Many start when they are only weeks old.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development did a Study of Early Child Care. It was an ongoing $100 million survey of 1,110 children. It took into account family income and the quality of day care.

“Evidence from the study shows that the total number of hours a child is without a parent, from birth through preschool, matters. The more time in child care of any kind or quality, the more aggressive the child, according to results published in Child Development.”

Children in full-time day care were close to three times more likely to show behavior problems than those cared for by their moms at home.

Another study by the Institute of Child Development of the University of Minnesota found children who spend a large amount of their day in daycare experienced higher stress levels and aggression as opposed to those who stayed home.

Follow-up research seven years after the original study confirmed those findings still held true.

Interestingly enough, during debate in the Iowa House on Thursday over a bill relating to how employers treat adoptive parents, this was said by Rep. Jacob Bossman (R-Sioux City):

“This change only apply to adopted children between the ages of 0-6 because about two-thirds of children adopted are between those ages and this provides some parameters and predictability for employers. While needs are different for all adoptive children, infants and younger children often have more intense time demands.”

Later during the debate, when Rep. Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) asked Bossman how they arrived at six years old, Bossman said:

“There are much more intense time demands for children preschool age versus once they have entered into school,” he said. “There’s not necessarily the same intense time demands for the parents as there would be for infants.”

So we recognize it, right? We recognize that infants and toddlers demand more time than older kids. We recognize that those are the most formative years in a child’s upbringing.

Nobody would debate thate.

Which leaves us with a question — how can those years best be utilized?

Iowa has a workforce shortage. We know. The best interest of businesses in Iowa is to have moms and dads going to work.

But is that in the best interest of Iowa children?

Is there something to be said for, instead of offering all of these incentives for kids to be put into daycare, the state instead offered incentives for a parent to stay home?

Daycare won’t ruin every kid. And kids who are raised by a stay-at-home parent can still turn out to have plenty of problems.

But is pushing kids into daycare and away from the full-time presence of a mom or a dad or a grandpa or a grandma providing the kid with his or her best chance to succeed?

Feel free to tell us what you think. You can email [email protected]

Author: Jacob Hall