Kids who learn to play in preschool may have less mental health issues later in life, study finds

Researchers found kids who learn to play well with others from the age of 3 to 4 seem to deal with mental health issues better in later life.
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All working parents know it’s never an easy decision to send your child to childcare – but they should feel assured their little ones are receiving some fantastic benefits by being there.

British researchers found that kids who learn to play well with others from the age of three to four seem to deal with mental health issues better in later life.

Playing with others teaches kids important social skills and how to interact with others.

Childcare reforms

Children who go to preschool have fewer mental health issues later in life

Researchers from the University of Cambridge looked at data collected from 1,700 children who were between the age of three and seven.

They found that kids who play with other children around the age of three showed fewer signs of mental health issues four years later.

What’s more, these kids also tended to have lower hyperactivity and were more in control of their emotions and conduct. They were also less likely to get into arguments and fights with other kids.

These findings are important as it shows how important social skills and support are in regards for mental health and wellbeing.

Kids who go to daycare have better psychological and language skills

Meanwhile, another study has found that kids who go to nursery have better psychological skills than those children who are looked after by family members or a childminder.

Child care

French researchers from Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health in Paris tracked more than 1,400 children between the ages of one and eight.

Questionnaires were filled out focusing on their behavioural and emotional development, looking at how easy they found making friends, how they conducted themselves and their social skills.


44.5% of kids were looked after by childminders, 26% went to nursery, creche or daycare and just under 30% were cared for by family or friends.

Researchers found that those who attended daycare or a creche had better social skills, less behavioural problems and were less emotional compared to children who had been looked after by family or friends.


How childcare benefits youngsters

Experts believe a nursery environment helps youngsters thrive as they spend more time reading, stimulating play, getting praise and following rules from a young age.

The research suggests girls seem to get more out of formal childcare than boys. This could possibly be because formal childcare is associated with less internalising behaviour, which is more common in girls.

However, boys in formal care also benefitted from this environment.

BREAKING! Prime Minister announces FREE childcare for essential workers

Study co-author Dr Maria Melchior, of Sorbonne University, said: “Compared with boys in receipt of informal care, boys in receipt of formal care had fewer emotional problems, but those looked after by a childminder had more behavioural problems.”

Children whose mothers had gone to college or university and/or whose mothers weren’t depressed seemed to benefit the most from formal childcare.

In the study’s conclusion, it states: “Access to high-quality childcare in the first years of life may improve children’s emotional and cognitive development, prevent later emotional difficulties and promote prosocial behaviours.”

Early childcare can help boost a child’s language skills

Previous studies have suggested that early childcare can help boost a child’s language and thinking skills, and could also improve their academic performance.

It’s important to note, that this is just one study. It doesn’t matter whether your child is in daycare, with family members or with you. At the end of the day, they are all being taken care of.

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For more Healthy Mummy articles relating to children’s health, you can read our archive of articles here.

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