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What is the Difference between Daycare and Preschool?

We often hear this question from young parents looking to put their children in an early educational program before reaching the kindergarten age. Parents asking this question wonder which environment is most appropriate for the children’s growth and education. What are the main differences between a daycare facility and a preschool, and which system suites their children best? Here you will find answers to these basic but important questions.

What is the difference between daycare and preschool?

Age Limits for Children

Based on the traditional definition, preschool is an educational program for children who are not old enough to enter the kindergarten yet. On the other hand, daycare is a child-care facility that provides care and supervision for children of any age during the daytime hours. Preschools typically accept admissions for children between the age 2 and 3, while daycares accept children as young as a few weeks old. Daycare centers specialize in providing care for infants while preschools only accept children of a certain age.

Hours of Operation

Hours of operation used to be the main difference between a daycare and a preschool. This difference is becoming less prominent nowadays with preschools and daycares providing the same opening hours during a day. Most daycare facilities provide full-day coverage usually from 6 am to 6 pm. It used to be that preschools provided care only within certain hours of a day either from 9 am to 1 pm or from 9 am to 3 pm. This has changed in the recent years with many preschools now offering full-day coverage the same as daycare centers.

If you are a working parent, daycare might be a better option for you as it has no age-restriction for accepting children and offers flexible hours that suite most working parents. If you are not a working parent and are only looking to send your child to a care facility for a few hours during a day, then you may consider enrolling your child in a preschool. Many preschools now provide before and after care service that accommodates the schedule of working parents as well. Before making a decision, make sure you personally visit the local daycare centers and preschools in your area to see what programs and options are available.

Quality of Education

The quality of education has become a blurry subject between daycares and preschools as both facilities are now capable of providing high quality education to children in different age groups. The truth is there are good daycare centers and there are not so good daycare centers and the same criteria apply to preschools as well. The quality of education can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood based on the location, programs offered and the skills of teachers whether it is a preschool or a daycare center. The best thing parents can do is to research both preschools and daycare centers, visit them in person, and interview the teachers to ensure they are selecting the best care facility that will serve their child best.


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Answers to Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Preschool



Answers to Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Preschool

Preschool is the first step towards independence and formal education for very young children. It is important for parents, especially those with first-time preschoolers to understand the reason, purpose and how to’s of preschool. Here are five answers to five most frequently asked questions about preschool.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Preschool


What is the difference between preschool and Kindergarten? Which one comes first?

Preschool and kindergarten are both parts of the early-childhood educational system in the United States. Kindergarten is part of the elementary school curriculum and is the first year of formal school before starting the first grade education. Kindergarten is mainly referred to as the K-grade in the United States. Children begin the kindergarten curriculum between the age of 5 and 6.

Preschool is a pre-kindergarten program focusing on early-childhood education for children between the age of 2 and 5. Preschool is not normally part of the compulsory educational system in the United States. Parents need to make the decision on whether they want their child to attend preschool or not. It’s best to check with your local government to obtain requirements on preschool and kindergarten attendance in your state as laws change all the time. Here is a useful link that provides information on entrance and attendance requirements for kindergartens by the state.

At what age should I enroll my child in preschool?

Most preschools accept admission as soon as a child reaches the age of 2. The decision that when a child needs to be enrolled in a preschool program should be made by the parents based on the child’s readiness. Parents need to look at their child’s emotional and physical state and determine whether he or she is ready to participate in organized and structured group activities. If you feel your child is not ready for preschool yet, wait for another year before enrolling him or her in any preschool program.

Is preschool that important?

With the increasing number of working moms and the improving status of preschool programs across the nation, more and more parents now enroll their children in preschool curriculums. Preschool provides a strong foundation to young children for learning new ideas and experiencing social life outside the walls of the home. There are parents out there who believe there is no better place than the loving and caring home environment for children to grow and develop new skills.

Although I do not disagree with this statement, I still believe two half-day sessions of preschool in a week can open the door to a new world of learning, fun and social interaction for little children. Preschool, though not a necessity, is an advantage that better prepares children for elementary school life and education.

What will my child learn in preschool?

As I recently wrote in a post for “what do kids learn in preschool?”, preschool provides young children opportunities for learning and exploring in different areas of social life and education. Preschool teaches kids important pre-kindergarten skills such as being independent, following directions, sharing, interacting and playing within a group as well as basic literacy and math concepts.

What are my options for choosing a preschool for my child?

After making the decision to enroll a child in preschool, the next question most parents ask is “How do I choose a good preschool program for my child?” The good thing is you do have many options when it comes to selecting a preschool. Check with your school district, search the local directories and the internet, do your research, read reviews and listen to what other parents have to say about the quality of preschool programs in your area.

Narrow down your choices based on your criteria, visit the schools in person, talk to the teachers and ask questions. After you find your qualifying preschools, apply for all of them just in case if any of the programs won’t accept your application for any unforeseen reasons.



How to Choose a Preschool? Five Qualities to Look for When Choosing a Preschool for Your Child

How to Choose a Preschool for Your Child

Is your child between the ages of 3 and 5 and you’re wondering how to choose a preschool that’s best for him? Finding the right preschool could be a hard and confusing task for some parents. A quality preschool builds the foundation for higher social and educational development in young children. Here are the top five characteristics you need to consider when choosing a preschool for your child.


First Things First: Safety and Security

First thing to look for when choosing a preschool for your child is the safety and security of the preschool building and its settings. Here are some questions to consider asking when deciding on a new preschool for your child. Are children monitored at all times? Is the outdoor play area gated and secure? Is all furniture and play equipment safe and child-proof? Is the environment clean and free of toxic and harmful chemicals? If the answers to all of these questions are Yes, then you can assure that the designated preschool is promoting a safe environment for children.

Positive and Personal Teacher-Child Relationship

The relationship between the preschool teachers and children is a good indication of the quality of a preschool program. Teachers should be able to establish a positive and personal relationship with every child. Teachers who spend time to know their students, their needs and feelings, contribute the most to early childhood education and development of students. Children should feel that their teachers like them and care for them. Positive and bonding relationships between teachers and children will help preschoolers develop a sense of belonging to the educational environment and help them transition more easily to higher educational levels.

An Environment that Encourages Play and Exploration

How to Choose a Preschool for Your ChildChildren should be given the opportunity to play and explore. A good preschool should provide children with quality toys, materials and equipment that make kids interested and excited to play, learn and experiment. Are children given fee time for independent play? Do the preschool facilities promote creativity in children’s activities? Are children allowed to express their ideas and feelings freely? These are the questions you need to consider when deciding whether a preschool supports play and exploration in their program.

An Environment Where Children Learn

Preschool is the right time for children to learn ABCs, numbers and new vocabulary. Children at this stage should participate in fun experiments that teach basic math and scientific concepts. Ask about the educational programs your preschool has to offer. An effective educational program should challenge the children’s mind and thinking and motivate them to learn and receive new information. Some preschools promote extra activities such as music, art and dance where children can explore their talents and abilities in different areas.

Daily Reading Time

Good preschool programs promote literacy in young children and help them prepare for transition to kindergarten and elementary school. Reading should be part of the daily activities of children. Ask if teachers will read to the students on a daily basis. What types of books are read? Do they meet your family and belief standards? Reading loud to preschoolers help them develop better linguistic knowledge and experiences and prevent reading difficulties when entering the higher educational grades.


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