Academic journal article Human Ecology Forum

Child Care in a Changing World

Academic journal article Human Ecology Forum

Child Care in a Changing World

Article excerpt

Modernization has changed the structure of households, the role of women, and the way people care for children. International researchers are attempting to determine how specific care arrangements affect the social and cognitive development of children in different cultures.

Modern life is forcing rapid adaptation onto human beings, whose evolutionary timetable is accustomed to millions of years. In the area of social development, nowhere is the escalation of adjustment more pronounced than in child care.

Until the last century or so, children were brought up in extended families and typically interacted with their parents throughout the day. Now, in many families both parents work and young children are placed in care arrangements whose consequences for development vary widely.

To understand how specific care arrangements affect children's social and cognitive development, researchers are looking at care settings, caregiver characteristics, family structures, socioeconomic status, and cultural influences.

Marion Potts, professor of human development and family studies, is working with psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines in a project that will attempt to arrive at the specific effects on children of different child care options.

Potts points out that different child care settings and practices result in different advantages and costs and in the different development of abilities. "How adaptive each is for a particular culture is a conclusion to be drawn by people within that culture. …

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