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Preschool vs. Daycare: What’s the Difference?

Child Care SearchParent Resources

25th November 2020

When the time comes to enroll a child in an age-appropriate program, parents find themselves with a huge decision to make. They are looking at preschool vs. daycare or child care (here’s a quick explanation of why we prefer to call it child care) and doing all the research to ensure they are making the right choice, one that will benefit their child for years to come.

Not only is it important to know that you are putting your child in a daytime facility that you can trust and where they can grow and have fun, but you have to consider the licensing, the educational program, and the overall reputation of the organization. So many questions may arise, and parents need to be well-informed on the schedule and curriculum of the program that they ultimately choose. Let’s take a further look so that when it comes time to make this all-important choice, parents have all the information needed to ensure that their decision is the right one.


Every Family Has Different Needs

When it comes to preschool vs. daycare or child care, every family has unique needs to be addressed for the benefit of their child. Every child is unique and so is their development. Children’s programs are not one size fits all. In the first five years of life, the brain is constantly growing and developing; children are learning new things all the time. In fact, this is the time of a person’s life when the brain develops the most, which is why positive experiences are so important. These formative years are critical for every individual child meeting the milestones that they need to prosper. Parents know their children the best, and they know what their children need in order to thrive. It is up to the program, whether it be child care or preschool, to provide just that.

What Are Some Benefits Of Child Care?

The benefits of preschool or a child care program includes:

  • The sense of self confidence and building social skills through interacting in different ways with other kids. These interactions are vital for growth and development.
  • A sense of structure throughout the day which provides a good routine to follow and depend on as they grow.
  • Learning the importance of relationships with other adults and kids. Kids tend to form close relationships with their peers and caretakers, which is a benefit to everyone.

Preschool Has Many Benefits

First and foremost, preschool is one of the most effective ways to prepare a child to enter kindergarten, with those who attend getting a great advantage that will help them in upcoming years. With preschool programs, children will learn more words by the time they start school, giving children a sense of security, and increases the academic ability of those who attend. Overall, kids who are enrolled in preschool gain better pre-reading and math skills as compared with those who do not, which lays a stronger foundation when they are ready to enter school in the upcoming years.

Preschool vs Daycare: What is the Difference?

The words “preschool” and “daycare” or “child care” may be used interchangeably among parents, but this is actually incorrect. While both offer great advantages to children, it is important to understand the difference between preschool vs. child care in order to make a choice that best suits the needs of your child. One of the most notable differences in the ages of the kids that attend either program.

What age are kids that attend daycare or child care programs? Child care programs typically accept children in the age range of about 6 weeks and older.

What age is preschool typically for? Children ages 2-5 years of age attend preschool. In a preschool program, learning pre-academic skills is the main objective, with the program focusing on the educational needs of the children in order to prepare them for development in the years that follow.

For the most part, child care is about providing services to parents when they need it most — during the working hours of the day. It focuses much more on games and free play than a preschool does. Babies, toddlers, and children have a safe and secure place to go where they will receive daily necessities such as feeding, napping, and activities. Although people may not think kids are learning at child care, they in fact are.

Every child deserves the best possible care, so it is expected that parents will have questions when they are considering preschool vs. child care. Parents can rest assured that licensing is required for both preschool and child care, so their children are being as well taken care of as possible no matter which program they choose. Staff is trained and qualified in order to deal with all the different situations that arise, and as any adult who has ever been in the presence of kids knows, no two days are alike! Now, every parent can be well-informed about the difference in preschool vs daycare.

There are a few different types of child care and early education programs you can find on Wonderschool. Search for different types of child care programs near you or wherever you need.