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Preschool VS Daycare: How to Make the Right Choice?

Whether you want to concentrate on your career after your maternity leaves are over or you want your child to have interactions with other children in his/her age group, daycare and preschool are there to your rescue. 

A good daycare can give you all the benefits of a preschool. A daycare or simply a creche is a place where babies and toddlers are cared for during working hours.

A daycare facility is suitable for working parents as they take care of all the child’s needs, even for infants. Some preschoolers also attend daycare after their regular preschool hours or during holidays.

A preschool or kindergarten, on the other hand, offers early childhood education to prepare your child for primary school.   

Preschool and daycare offer different approaches and curriculum, but they both are regulated and licensed through the same state agencies. Keep reading this post to know what sets the two apart and which option would be suitable for your needs.

Benefits of Preschool vs Daycare

You must be curious to find out the pros and cons of both these facilities, after all, you want the best option for your child. Nowadays, many daycares provide a preschool-like curriculum to train your child for elementary school and some preschools have extended hours like daycare.

Still, there are many differences between the two; differences you would want to ponder over before landing at a decision. 

Benefits of preschool:

  • Learning oriented programs with a focus on a child’s education and development. 
  • More teacher-led activities, which helps kids to learn many social skills. 
  • Preschool gears the kids for elementary education; most of the preschool activities mimic that of the primary schools and it is helpful for children to transition later. 
  • They usually accept children in the age group of 2 to 5. Also, there are different classrooms for different age groups. 
  • A more structured routine at preschool also helps to train the kids for the elementary curriculum. 

Benefits of Daycare:

  • Daycare focuses more on child care and provides home-like facilities to infants as well as toddlers.
  • They have flexible hours, they tend to open earlier than preschools and close late to cater to the needs of working parents.
  • Some preschoolers also visit daycare after their regular preschool hours are over. Also, daycares are usually open during holidays or weekends.
  • Daycares are suitable for a wider age group, from infants to grade-schoolers. It is helpful to get your child to socialize with bigger as well as younger kids or babies. 
  • A huge bonus of daycare is, toilet-training is not necessary. 

Is Preschool Cheaper Than Daycare?

The fee is one of the most important points to be considered while deciding the right option to suit your needs.

Usually, preschools are cheaper than daycare, given the fact that children spend double the amount of time on a daycare. However, the “high-quality” preschools can cost pretty much the same as daycares or even more. 

What’s The Difference Between Daycare & Childcare?

Often parents use the terms “Daycare” & “Child care” interchangeably as they don’t find any difference between the two. However, many education professionals object to the usage of the term “Daycare” for the “Child care” centers. 

“Child care” is a more inclusive terminology, because parents work right from the early wee hours in the morning to later in the evening. Hence, the term “Child care” includes these extended schedules at the same time delivering meaningful care to the children. 

Is Preschool Really Necessary?

Educators have constantly stressed on the importance of preschool education on the development of children. Most of the time, the “preschool-panic” hits the parents after their child crosses the mark of 2 ½ or 3 years. 

There is a shred of increasing evidence to substantiate the fact that children learn a lot from going to preschool. Preschool familiarise children with alphabets, numbers, shapes, patterns, and most importantly, they learn the skill of socializing.

The team activities and involvements teache children to share and contribute to the group, something necessary for developing their personalities in later years. Early learning and familiarization with numbers, reading, and general knowledge help children to excel in their studies. 

Apart from learning, preschools provide an environment where children can gain confidence in themselves and strengthen their problem-solving skills. 

That being said, preschool can contribute to your child’s education and personality development, but it is not absolutely necessary to enroll your child in a preschool curriculum to instill those qualities.

You can develop your child’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills at home also by implementing the following strategies:

  • Make sure to be emotionally available to your child whenever they feel the need to. Sit down with your child to discuss the events they experienced through the day at school. Try to connect with them at an emotional level, remember, your child won’t say, “I had a rough day, I want to talk to you,” they will say, “Can you play with me.” 
  • Discuss with your child what they want to do over the weekend or what they want to wear for school tomorrow or what they want in the lunch box; such discussions train your child in decision making and helps to boost their confidence. 
  • Try to engage your child in problem-solving activities, like model building games, puzzles or interactive books and games. If your child gets upset, be patient and ask them what bothers them. Problem-solving activities are a wonderful way to teach self-control to your child.
  • Make a habit to read and learn every day. Reading enhances your child’s vocabulary and helps with interaction. Reading to your child during their early years has a beneficial effect on structural learning capabilities.  

Can I Call My Daycare A Preschool?

Some daycares follow the same learning and educational curriculum as preschools. However, there are certain key points to consider before labeling them similar to a preschool:  

  • The center should focus on developing a child’s social, cognitive, physical, and emotional skills.
  • The curriculum should introduce numbers, letters, phonetics, shapes, and certain concepts to the child.
  • The teachers should implement both free and structured play into the daily routine.

How Do You Transition From Daycare To Preschool?

Transitioning from daycare to preschool is an important and stressful milestone for a child. The key to a successful and happy transition lies in preparing your child mentally and emotionally for this exciting event.  

  • Present the idea of transition as a matter-of-fact; telling your child that preschool is a no big deal helps to ease out their apprehension.
  • Tell your child that since now they are big, they need a bigger school. Kids get excited with the idea of becoming a big child, this trick works with most kids. 
  • Build skills in your child, ask them or allow them to do their day-to-day activities on their own, like changing their clothes, carrying their bag, eating their meals, just to make them aware and familiar with the challenges they would face at the preschool. 
  • Make sure your child is toilet-trained before starting preschool. Mostly, that’s the biggest challenge kids face during the transition, if they aren’t potty-trained before.
  • Visit the school with your child to make him/her familiar with the new environment. Introduce your child to the teachers and staff there. Developing an early relationship with teachers is important for your child to feel comfortable around them.

Related Questions 

Points to consider and discuss during a school visit?

  • Ask if your child needs to be potty-trained. Many preschools do not accept children with diapers.
  • Ask how the school system includes parents. Schools have a plan for programs to include families in events and parties.
  • A good preschool will keep the parents informed of their child’s progress through emails, newsletters or regular parents-teacher meetings.
  • Keep yourself and your child updated with the school’s daily timetable and curriculum. It gives your child a sense of familiarity to know the school routine beforehand. 
  • Check for the cleanliness and presence of basic facilities in the school. 
  • Check if the outdoor play area is well-kept, child-friendly, and safe.
  • The indoor play area should have a variety of age-appropriate toys, art materials, and books. 

Preschool or daycare, what’s the right option for me?

This decision depends on your family needs and requirements:

  • Daycare is suitable for working parents while preschool is the option of choice if one of the parents stays at home.
  • If your child is younger than 2 ½ years then you can opt for a daycare facility.
  • Preschools are generally cheaper than daycare centers. If budget is a constraint for you then it is better to opt for preschool.
  • Preschools concentrate more on a child’s development and learning. If you wish to provide these skills to your child and you are unable to do it by yourself then a preschool is a better option for you. 

Monica Lawrence

I’m Monica, a single mother who’s raising two beautiful angels. Here, I share helpful and creative articles and how-to’s for all the busy, multitasking moms.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Alice Carroll

    Thanks for pointing out that getting a daycare program for my child is perfect when working a job that ends in the evening. I think having my child interact with other kids her age would be beneficial for her as well. I don’t think my body is still in its prime to be able to have another baby in the future so I will have to make sure that my daughter wouldn’t be lonely as an only child.

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