The first three years of your child’s life is vital to their development and future. As Shonkoff and Phillips (2000) discuss, it is during these formative years that your child will rapidly go through monumental learning and development milestones (as cited in McMullen, 2017). Shonkoff and Phillips also discuss how the relationships children form, and the activities they engage in during this period, help shape their future and the person they will become (as cited in McMullen, 2018).
In regards to your child’s care and education during these important early years, extended research supports continuity of care as providing the best outcome for their learning, development, emotional wellbeing, and future.
What is continuity of care and why is it important?
Continuity of care promotes the importance of meaningful and deep relationships and quality learning experiences by allowing your child to remain in the same environment with the same group of peers and childcare staff for a minimum of two to three years (McMullen, 2018).
McMullen (2017) also discusses how it is detrimental to a child’s growth if they are constantly made to change to new environments, adapt to new faces, and learn new routines. Her research supports continuous childcare with minimal change as being the best practice in which to nurture and accelerate a child’s developmental growth.
As a parent, it is important to look towards the long-term, and to consider the environment you choose for your child’s education and care as an investment in their future. Choosing a supportive and stable learning environment where your child will have the opportunity to develop secure attachments with people who know and care about them is one of the most important factors for a parent to consider.
Continuity of care has proven to be beneficial not only to children, but also to parents, childcare staff, and to the community as a whole. McMullen (2017) lists a number of benefits of continuity of care.
Benefits to your child include:
- Having a supportive and stable learning environment conducive to learning success;
- The ability to build and maintain strong and long-term relationships with their teachers and peers;
- Improved development progress and social skills;
- A vast improvement in their transition to, and success at school; and
- The elimination of stress that comes from an unstable environment, leading to an increase in their happiness and improved behaviour.
Benefits to parents include:
- An assurance that your child is being nurtured and provided for in a stable and familiar environment;
- A sense of trust and comfort in the knowledge that the provider is like extended family with child care staff who are trusted faces and confidants;
- Peace of mind that your child is being given the best possible environment to develop to their full potential;
- Comfort that your child is in an environment where they will build strong relationships with a supportive peer group to learn and laugh with; and
- Becoming a strong advocate for continuous care, leading you to seek out schooling that further provides stability, consistency, and support to both yourself and your family unit.
Benefits to childcare staff include:
- An increased knowledge of children’s development and interpersonal skills as they have the opportunity to watch all types of children grow, develop, and learn over a long period of time;
- Greater professional opportunities as they have a deeper understanding of child development; and
- A happy and secure workplace as close relationships are formed and maintained with the children, their families, and work colleagues.
Benefits to community include:
- The development of close relationships between parents and child care staff;
- The development of close relationships between children and their peers;
- Increased interaction with your child’s friends’ parents, leading to the development of more meaningful relationships and supportive networks;
- The nurturing of our human need to be social, and to be part of a community and
- Allowing your child to become part of a community and reap the benefits of strong relationships and social connections.
When considering schooling or childcare it is always best to think towards your child’s long-term future. The commitment you make to continuity of care will greatly benefit your child’s emotional, social, and developmental progress, and will provide them with the best possible environment during their important formative years. Research supports continuity of care as the best practice to give your child the most beneficial early education experience. Childhood education is an investment into your child’s future, and we urge you to consider the above benefits and make the commitment to pursue continuity of care wherever possible.
McMullen, M.B. (2017). Continuity of Care with Infants and Toddlers. Retrieved from https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/continuity-of-care-with-infants-and-toddlers/5023346/
McMullen, M.B. (2018). The Many Benefits of Continuity of Care for Infants, Toddlers, Families, and Caregiving Staff. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/jul2018/benefits-continuity-care