For those working parents who have emerged, heads reeling from the latest survey into childcare;

there must be as many nurseries and playgroups asking themselves: "What sort of places did the researchers visit?"

It follows a survey conducted by the University of North Carolina, which found children placed with childminders or nurseries were more aggressive than children who stay at home.

The research succeeds in damning all parents, professional carers and educators and, of course, the children caught in the middle. But, to rephrase the words of Mark Twain, there are lies, damned lies and surveys.

One can only feel healthy scepticism about the research methods, when the conclusions fly in the face of common sense and the experience of parents and professional carers.

For many children, going to a nursery or playgroup is the first step towards socialisation making friends, learning that others have feelings and learning to give and take.

This might seem an inflated claim to those who have stood behind screaming children at supermarket checkouts. But children rapidly learn that screaming is not effective. Indeed, children learn from all their experiences.

Nurseries are founded on the belief that children learn by doing and many have written policies stating children must have equality of opportunity and that everyone children and adults alike should behave with courtesy and consideration.

Indeed, professionals child-carers often say, children, when handled sensitively, show more understanding and tolerance towards others than do adults.

Take a very common nursery activity, often called the circle game. Everyone sits in a circle, making eye contact. This provides the opportunity to share successes or problems. Only one person speaks at a time. No one interrupts and the children learn very early to listen with concentration, to encourage and support each other.

Indeed, adults can learn much from small children in a nursery setting, where they accept physical and learning disabilities they are prepared for it. You dont believe it? Read next weeks column.