Difference between Daycare and Preschool

Published on November 12, 2016

If you have not had a child or friends or close relatives with children before, then chances are you are not well-versed in matters such as daycare and preschool. It seems that the type of institution you choose for your child at a specific age is very important. Do not panic if you do not know what to choose yet. You are on the right page to find this out.

Definitions

Daycare vs Preschool
Children at a daycare center

A daycare center is a place where parents can leave their children in the care of specialized professionals. It is an alternative for people who cannot afford a full-time nanny or rely on the help of family, friends or neighbors. A child can be left at a daycare center for one hour alone, while the parent gets shopping done, or for several hours, while the parent is at work.

Many daycare centers accept small children up to the age of five. During their stay there, the little ones get to play and interact with each other. Activities are organized for them, and they are constantly under the surveillance of an adult.

Preschool
A preschool teacher is preparing an activity for the class

Preschool is an educational institution for children aged between 3 and 5. This is the first level of education and a preparation for kindergarten or first grade. Here, children socialize, play, take part in a lot of learning activities and adapt to the idea of not being at home with their parents. The people working at a preschool have special pedagogic training and can perform activities adapted to the level of understanding of very small children. Preschools usually have the same schedules as schools, being closed on holidays and during summer.

Daycare vs Preschool

So what is the difference between daycare and preschool?

Basically, both types of institutions take children of the same ages, from approximately 2 to 5. However, there are differences in the roles they play for parents and children. For starters, daycare centers are mainly intended to provide care. They are places where parents can leave their children for one to several hours, one time or daily. Preschool is school preparation. The child has a program the parent must respect. This means that in matters of flexibility, daycare centers win by far.

When it comes to activities, however, preschools are way in front of daycare centers. The children are divided by age group and perform activities appropriate to their level of understanding and cognitive development. Preschool teachers must analyze children’s progress and discuss it with the parents. Daycare centers can also perform such activities, but not necessarily with an educational purpose.

Also, daycare centers will take in children of all ages and they all spend time together. This means that sometimes, the people working there may have to be more careful with the younger ones and pay less attention to the older children. In preschool, the age groups are already divided and all children get the same level of attention from the teachers within their group.

The selection of the people working in these institutions is stricter for preschool, which is considered the first step in education. The selection of children is also more rigorous as they must be toilet trained, whereas daycare centers may still receive children who are still wearing diapers.

Comparison Chart

Daycare Preschool
A place where parents can leave their children in the care of specialized professionals A place where children come to learn and prepare for the first year of school
Children aged between 2 and 5 all sit together Children are divided by age group
There are some activities All activities have educational purposes and are carefully monitored
Daycare workers are trained to care for the children Preschool teachers are trained to take care of the children and educate them in accordance to their level of understanding
Have flexible hours and may not close on holidays or during summer Function just like schools
Take in children in diapers All children need to be toilet trained