The latest annual British Social Attitudes survey on attitudes to education and children’s services reveals that the most commonly perceived benefit of nursery or pre-school is interaction and socialisation with others. Only a minority of respondents thought that main benefit of nursery for both under threes and three- and four-year-olds is educational development.
The survey focused primarily on group early years settings such as nurseries and pre-schools. However, when asked about the main reason they thought parents of children under five use childcare, including a private nursery or childminder, the majority of respondents (86%) said it was so parents could work. Only 12% said it was because it is of benefit to the child.
Key findings around pre-school care and education include:
- The most commonly cited main advantage for a child under three to attend nursery was that it is good for children to interact and socialise with others (41% of respondents). Around one in ten (11%) said it was because it helps a child’s education development, and a similar proportion (10%) said it is good for developing their confidence and independence. Other main advantages included enabling parents to work (cited by 12% of respondents).
- For children aged three to four the most commonly cited main advantages of attending nursery included interaction and socialisation (28%), preparing children for school (21%), and helping educational development (17%).
- While two-fifths (40%) of respondents felt that there were no disadvantages in sending children under three to nursery, the main disadvantages that were cited included children picking up bad habits (18%), children being too young to leave their parents (16%), and children not getting enough individual attention at nursery (11%).
- For children aged three to four, half of the respondents (50%) felt there were no disadvantages to attending nursery, but main disadvantages cited included children picking up bad habits (20%) and not getting enough individual attention (11%).
- When asked about the main reason they thought parents of children under five use childcare (such as a private nursery or childminder), the majority (86%) said it was so parents could work, and only 12% said it was because it is of benefit to the child.