There are a lot of different words thrown around to describe care experiences for young children. How is day care different from child care? And is child care different from preschool? And which of these qualify as “early learning”?
Sometimes you’ll hear a child care provider say, “Oh, I’m just child care” or, “It’s just a daycare.” The thing is, both of these things are also early learning.
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Child care as early learning
Young children develop at a rapid rate. By age 3, 80% of a child’s brain has developed. 80%! Whether or not they call themselves “teachers,” “educators,” or “providers,” people who care for infants and toddlers are supporting the development of 80% of their brain. That makes them brain builders. That makes the care environment educational.
What young children need to develop
All young children require a safe, loving, and stimulating environment. They need a predictable schedule and routine. They require adults who talk, sing, read, laugh, ask questions, play, and comfort them. No matter what name you use for them, these are all things the adults who care for young children provide. Child care is early learning. Child care providers are early educators.
Why this matters
The language we use matters. The language we use conveys respect or disrespect. And unfortunately, the field of early care and education has traditionally not received the respect it deserves. Whether you’re a child care provider, preschool teacher, owner, director, or parent– child care is early learning, and child care is essential.