Difference between Preschool and Kindergarten

December 20, 2016 by Editorial Team

Early childhood education is mostly about play and exploration. This is the stage when all kinds of information is easily absorbed. It is the time when kids learn to interact with other children. This is also when they start to adapt to their environment.

Preschool and kindergarten teaching portray a crucial role at this stage. Attending preschool and kindergarten prepares children with the needed social, physical, emotional and intellectual aptitudes. However, some people don’t know what differentiates preschool from kindergarten. In this article we will explore their differences.

Definitions

Preschool kids during playtime

The term preschool refers to an educational establishment which offers early childhood education. It is also considered to be a stage of childhood. Some institutions refer to it as “Pre-K” (“K” standing for Kindergarten). Children who enter preschool are around 3-5 years of age. One day in preschool consists of about 2-3 hours of play and educational activities. A teacher guides around 6-10 students per class. This is the exploratory stage when kids are very curious about everything – hence, the need to be closely monitored by their teachers.

In the late 1700’s, preschools started with the goal of making schools more accessible. This is true especially for orphans and kids whose mothers had to leave home for work. Later on, preschools became popular among the nobility and middle class. Nowadays, parents from upper to middle class families are the ones who prioritize and invest in early childhood education. Other parents feel that this is just optional. However, studies have shown that there is a high correlation between exposure in early childhood education to success in life later on.

Kindergarten
Kindergarteners engaging in various activities

Kindergarten is a German word which literally means “a garden for the children.” This was coined by Friedrich Fröbel, a German educator considered to be one of the most influential founders of early childhood education. Children enter kindergarten between the ages of 5 and 6. A day in kindergarten consists of around 2-5 hours of hands-on activities. Each class of about 10-15 students is supervised by a teacher. In kindergarten, children are exposed to varied stimuli. They start learning how to read at this age. Simple math concepts are also introduced. The varied topics and subjects help prepare them for the transition to primary school.

Comparison

The main difference is the age at which the child goes to school. Preschoolers are younger, mostly 3-5 years old, while Kindergarteners are those ages 5-6. In preschool, there is a smaller teacher to child ratio of 1:6-10 and a bigger ratio of 1:10-15 for kindergarten. The kids in preschool stay in class for a maximum of 3 hours per day, compared to Kindergarten where they stay for longer hours (up to 5 hours a day).

Both focus on school readiness. However, preschool teachings are more on the progressive side. Play and exploration are the primary focus. Kindergarten, on the other hand, begins to introduce subjects the children will focus on in grade school. As such, students learn to adapt to more structured lessons in big school.

Comparison Chart

PreschoolKindergarten
Ages 3-5 yearsAges 5-6 years
Smaller teacher to student ratio (1:6-10)Bigger teacher to student ratio (1:10-15)

Shorter time spent in school (2-3 hours a day)

School hours are a little longer (2-5 hours a day)
Focus is on school readinessStart of actual “schooling”
Progressive learningIntroduction to traditional subject matters
Learning through playing and interactionApart from play, children learn to adapt to more structured lesson plans