Preschool vs Daycare: What’s the Difference?
Many people think daycare and preschool are the same things. While they offer many of the same options, daycare and preschool are two separate entities. Lionheart Children’s Academy will help break down what daycares and preschools have in common and their differences. The most important thing is choosing the best option for your family and your child’s needs. We’ll help you determine the pros and cons of each choice and help you decide if daycare or preschool is best for your child.
A Family’s Unique Needs
There is no right or wrong answer when choosing a preschool or daycare. Every family has unique needs that should be filled for the benefit of the children and the caregivers. It’s important to think about a child’s development and what they need to further their educational and social skills. Childcare is not designed as a “one-size-fits-all” approach. During the first few years of a child’s life, their brain is constantly developing. Positive experiences are vital for this brain growth. You know your child and your family best. It’s crucial to find a daycare or preschool that fits your unique needs as a family and helps your child excel in this brain development stage of life.
Similarities of Daycare & Preschool
Before diving into their differences, daycares and preschools have some similarities. All child care programs are regulated at the state level. Preschool and daycare programs must be licensed by state regulators and follow the same regulations and laws regarding nutrition, safety, recordkeeping, and staff-to-child ratios. Anyone working with children must pass a background check and have extensive training. All programs must have liability insurance and minimum standards to help keep children safe. Besides care, daycare centers often offer an educational curriculum that mirrors the preschool curriculum to help prepare children for kindergarten. The cost to send your child to daycare or preschool is about the same in most locations.
Daycare vs. Preschool Hours
Preschools usually have shorter hours than daycare centers and close during holidays and sometimes during the summer. Many preschools offer camp options when the school year is over as well. Preschools often offer half day and full day programs with options of two to five days a week. Daycare centers often open their doors early and close their doors late for working parents. They usually stay open year-round. Many daycare centers let you customize your child’s schedule to fit your needs.
Daycare vs. Preschool Age Requirements
Most daycares offer care for children from six weeks old to 12-years old. Their doors are usually open to elementary-aged children during the school year for before or after school programs. Kids of all ages get to mix and mingle at some point during the day at most daycares. Preschools usually open their doors for children ages three to five. Age groups are typically separated into separate classrooms for curriculum, but they often come together on the playground or during group activities.
Preschool vs. Daycare Goals
Is daycare considered school? The answer lies in the goal and purpose of daycare and preschool. Of course, most parents want their children to learn and stimulate their brain while at daycare. This doesn’t mean daycare is considered an actual school. The main goal of a preschool is to learn and play in a safe and secure environment. Preschoolers learn fine and gross motor skills, cognitive skills, and social skills. Parents often view preschool as a place where their children get ready for kindergarten. A daycare center’s primary goal is to provide a caring and safe environment. Daycare is typically full-time, before school or after school. Many daycares offer curriculum, but most have an overall goal of care instead of development and education. While children often learn and grow through educational activities, most caregivers don’t send children to daycare for schooling.
Learning in Preschool and Daycare Centers
A preschool’s main goal is to get your children prepared for kindergarten. There is a structured curriculum each week with specific lessons. The learning programs are built to blend play into education to help make learning fun. Children socialize and learn through movement and discovery. Daycare centers often provide educational experiences the same way without a set curriculum. Most of a child’s time is spent playing and learning through informal methods of education.
What Are Some Benefits Of Daycare?
Many people choose a child care program because they need a safe place for their children during working hours. Some of the most significant benefits of a daycare program include:
- Offers a structured, caring and safe environment
- Provides interaction and social-building skills
- Often offers meals and snacks throughout the day
- Extended hours are convenient to working caretakers
What Are Some Benefits of Preschool?
Preschool is a wonderful choice for many families for many reasons, including:
- Structured curriculum helps prepare children for kindergarten
- Offers social interaction throughout the day
- Combination of play and educational environment
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that daycare and preschool are a lot alike, with a few differences. As long as your child is loved, safe, and growing educationally and socially, you’re in good hands with either choice. The hours and the curriculum may differ between daycare and preschools, but the child is always at the root. You should always look beyond the title of a “daycare” or a “preschool” to determine the type of facility.
How Do I Decide Between Daycare and Preschool?
Deciding between daycare and preschool is a personal decision for each family. The best news is that many places offer a combination of structured curriculum and extended hours, so everyone wins. The most important decision is choosing a place that fits your needs. Take a tour and meet the leaders of the daycare and preschools to find the one that fits your schedule, budget, and family. You can make a chart of the pros and cons of each type of care. Ask yourself where you feel more at home and which place would help your child feel the most engaged. The most important thing is that your child feels safe, secure, and loved.
What Type of Care Does Lionheart Offer?
Lionheart provides a combination of preschool and child care. We’re passionate about education and offer a stimulating curriculum of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). We believe in learning through play and having fun with friends. We emphasize physical activity and movement throughout the day. Our extended hours are convenient for many working parents. We want every child to feel loved when they walk in our doors. Our teachers are some of the most committed and loving leaders you’ll ever encounter. We believe our preschool and child care program is a unique combination of all the best parts of school and daycare.
Contact Lionheart Children’s Academy
Lionheart Children’s Academy helps children grow in every way possible. We offer education and socialization from infants to children 12 years of age. Our summer field trips, structured curriculum, and before and after school program help children excel in their development. We learn through play and have a great time doing it. Our fully-licensed early learning center is committed to assisting children in developing positive cognitive, physical, language, and emotional behaviors. Contact us today to learn more about our premier preschool and child care services.