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Daycare vs Preschool: All You Need To Know


Parents sometimes confuse preschool and daycare. While all approaches are advantageous to infant development, there are important distinctions between them. Let’s take a look at daycare vs preschool.

Though many have professional early childhood education staff, daycare is primarily for child care. Preschool, on the other hand, is designed to be a less formal learning environment that bridges the gap between daycare and kindergarten. 

Although preschool is not required in the elementary school system, it provides children with a valuable learning experience. Children learn social and academic skills at preschool to assist their transition to kindergarten and grade school.

What Exactly Is A Preschool?


A preschool, also known as a pre-primary or play school, is a learning environment where children receive early childhood education before beginning elementary school.

Also Read: What Is the Best Age to Start Preschool

Children who have passed the toddler stage (2 to 5 years) should be eligible for preschool. It focuses on the growth of the child and builds the groundwork for subsequent school years.

What Exactly Is A Daycare?

A daycare, often known as a creche, is a facility that provides childcare services. Daycare centers primarily serve working parents by taking care of their children, feeding them, putting them to sleep, and forcing them to play for a period of time.

It is primarily for younger children (infants to ten years old) who must spend five to eight hours away from home, but older children attend daycare after school hours as well.

Also Read: Simple Ways To Create A Daycare Budget Plan

Preschool differs from daycare in many ways, yet they also have certain commonalities. Continue reading to find out what they are.

Differences Between Daycare and Preschool


Parents may use the terms “preschool” and “daycare” interchangeably, although this is wrong. While both provide significant benefits to children, it is critical to grasp the distinction between preschool and child care in order to make the best decision for your child. 

1. Daycare vs. Preschool: Educational Focus and Routines

Although both preschools and daycares provide instruction for children, preschools are more academically focused. Daycare often includes more free play time and fewer organized activities, as well as greater opportunities for spontaneous learning.

The emphasis in preschool will be on preparing children for kindergarten by teaching skills such as literacy, numeracy, science, and art.

There will almost certainly be a structured educational curriculum based on a system like Montessori or Bank Street, with lesson plans centered on learning outcomes and more formal educational assessments.

Staff is more likely to have advanced degrees in early childhood education.

Daycares and preschools will both teach children critical socialization and life skills like clothing themselves, conflict resolution, and group play.

2. Daycare vs. Preschool: Age Requirements

Daycare generally has a wider age range than preschools. Depending on the facility and its offerings, daycares provide services to children from infancy to the age of five, as well as after-school activities for school-age children. Some daycares accept children as young as 12 years old.

Also read: What You Need To Know About Your Child’s Personality In Relation To Zodiac Signs

Preschool is typically confined to children aged three to five, while some preschools begin as early as age two, and some private preschools include kindergarten.

Typically, children attending preschool must satisfy specific standards such as potty training and basic language abilities.

There are more opportunities for between-age interactions at daycare due to the greater age range. Preschools frequently segregate the age groups further in order to provide developmentally appropriate learning opportunities in accordance with their established curriculum and approach.

3. Daycare vs Preschool: Services

Daycares, as opposed to preschools, are primarily concerned with providing a place for working parents to leave their children during the day.

They typically provide more flexible services, such as drop-in child care. They will normally serve more meals than a preschool since they provide more routine care.

While daycares may offer diapering services, preschools often cater to older children and demand that their students be potty-trained.

Preschools are virtually always center-based, whereas daycares may be home-based, and preschools are also larger, with more children. Preschools often have lower staff-to-child ratios, allowing each kid to get more individualized care.

Both preschools and daycare centers are committed to providing a safe and secure environment for their young charges.

Depending on the region, fee structures may be similar or preschool may be more expensive.

4. Daycare vs Preschool: Operating Hours

The main distinction between daycare and preschool in terms of operating hours is that preschool follows a schedule similar to schools for older children. Summer, holiday, and bad weather hours are reduced, and preschools may be closed. Preschools often provide half-day or full-day programs, and children can attend as few as twice per week.

Daycares will have hours as long as needed for parents to pick up their children from work due to their focus on supporting working families. They are often open during the summer and on weekends. The hours will be more flexible, in keeping with the less organized setting, allowing the center to fulfill parents’ childcare demands.

1The focus is on the child’s education and developmentThe child’s development is not the top priority here. Instead, the focus is on taking care of the child and keeping them active
2Doesn’t open during the holidaysWorks during the holidays as well
3Caters to the age group of 2.5 – 5 yearsIs suitable for a wide age group – from infants to older children
4Open for shorter hours usually for three to four hoursProvides full-time care and is open for a longer duration, usually for eight to nine hours
5Typically has day-scholarsTypically children of working parents
6Different preschools have different methodologies such as Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, play-based and religious modelsIt has free-play, nap time, and informal learning

Daycare vs. Preschool: Factors To Consider When Choosing


Determine your goals for your child as well as your expectations from the preschool/daycare. Here are a few things to think about before making a decision:

1. Distance:

Determine the distance between the center and your home/workplace.

Choose a daycare that is close to your workplace so that you may drop your child off before work and pick them up after work.

It is preferable to have a preschool close to your home.

2. Duration:

Determine how many hours your child will spend in preschool or daycare.

Preschools are open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., while daycares are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

3. Coursework:

The preschool curriculum focuses on early childhood education, whereas a daycare provides childcare services as well as education and play.

  • The center should engage the child and help them develop cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally.
  • A preschool should teach the child language, phonetics, letters, numbers, environmental sciences, and culturally relevant concepts.
  • Because children learn best via play, there should be a mix of free and structured play.
  • You may not want to enroll your child in a preschool that puts a lot of pressure on the children with a lot of homework.
  • Check to see if the activities are acceptable for the child’s age.
  • The teacher-student interaction should be positive. It’s not a good indicator if the child is afraid of their teacher.

4. Staff education and formal training: 

Preschool employees receive formal training, whereas daycare employees may not. Most preschools have a set of standards that their personnel must meet.

  • Employees of a preschool are typically chosen based on their approach to children and the methods of teaching they apply for a specific age group.
  • Daycare has a more casual attitude toward teachers and workers. In most circumstances, employees are hired without having to take a test or interview.

In most states, the educational requirements for daycare employees are lower than those for preschool employees.

5. Fees and payment methods: 

This is an important factor to consider.

  • What does the center charge? Is it possible to pay in installments if their cost structure is too high? Is there a policy on late fees?
  • How does the childcare charge for extra hours?
  • Are there any additional fees for refreshments or activities?


The argument between preschool and childcare is tough to resolve because both have advantages and disadvantages.

Make certain that the daycare or preschool facility is a reasonable distance from your home and that the staff is competent.

It is also recommended that you speak with the parents of children who are already enrolled in the institution to learn more about their policies and management strategies.

These institutions are your child’s first journey into the social world, therefore choosing the appropriate one is critical.

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