Children of working mothers develop faster than those whose mothers stay at home, a new study suggests.
Children of mothers with full-time jobs have better social skills as a result of spending more time in nurseries or with grandparents, researchers from the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics (LSE) have claimed.
This information was based on a study of 11,000 families and observations of 800 more with children between two and four years old. They focused their attention on four areas of development: social skills, talking, movement and every day skills.
Laura Perrins of campaign organisation Mothers At Home Matter was dismissive of the study. She said “the only thing to do here is make nursery compulsory for all children” and that this research seems to imply that “mothers cannot be trusted with their own kids”.
However, the differences between children of working mothers and their stay-at-home peers was not the sole focus of the research. The team also found that children developed faster in all four areas if their mothers had high levels of education, if they had siblings or if their families visited other homes with children.
Unsurprisingly, parental involvement was another factor associated with positive development. Children whose parents read to them or sang songs with them were better able to talk and those who did activities such as painting or arts and crafts had improved movement.
Co-author Professor Paul Anand of LSE said he was “delighted that one of first economic studies to look at the behaviour of very young children comes out with positive messages about activity involvement with parents”.
The study was published in the academic journal Social Choice and Welfare.