How is preschool different from daycare?

Choosing the right early childhood education center for your little one can be difficult. This decision is critical because you want to set a good foundation for your child starting at the youngest possible age. From daycare centers to preschools, there is no shortage of options to choose from. However, many parents are left wondering if there are really any differences between a good daycare and a good preschool? And if there are differences, do the benefits of one outweigh those of the other?

We’ve broken down some typical differences between a traditional daycare center and preschools to make this big decision a little easier for you and your family:

Ages

Every childcare center is different. However, many centers that refer to themselves as a ‘preschool’ may not accept kids younger than the age of 2 or 3. The focus of preschools is often to provide a solid educational foundation for children between the ages of 2 ½ through the year they enter kindergarten (typically at age 5 or 6). Daycares, on the other hand, often accept a wider age range of children, from infants who are just weeks old, up to children who are about to start elementary school.

Parker-Chase Preschool offers a strong educational foundation for even the youngest children and preschoolers, offering a wide variety of child care options based on your child’s age. We offer programs for infants, toddlers, preschool, and pre-kindergarten-aged children.

Curriculum

Strong preschool programs tend to place emphasis on cognitive development and early childhood education. Daycare centers strive to ensure kids stay healthy and happy while away from their parents or caregivers. Preschools often have a curriculum in place that is based on a specific educational philosophy such as Waldorf, Montessori, or Reggio Emilia.  Most daycare centers will incorporate educational games and activities, but may not have a set academic curriculum or educational philosophy.   Whether the facility is called a preschool or a daycare, all childcare centers should provide quality childcare.

Our educators at Parker-Chase Preschool are dedicated to fostering the development of each child’s social-emotional, cognitive, language, physical, and creative abilities. Our curriculum is built on our knowledge of the developmental process, the individual child’s interests and needs, and the child’s family culture.

Kindergarten and Elementary Preparation

One of the main goals of a preschool is to lay the foundation for what a child needs to know before starting kindergarten or elementary school. A daycare may or may not have a preparedness plan for higher education.

At Parker-Chase Preschool, we provide a pre-kindergarten program with a focus on developing pre-literacy and pre-math skills. Through challenging and developmentally appropriate play-based activities, we nurture our pre-kindergarten students cognitively, socially, and emotionally so they are more than ready to start kindergarten when that day comes.

Hours of Operation/Scheduling                                                                   

A fundamental difference between daycare centers and preschools is often the hours of operation. Daycares typically open much earlier and stay open later than most preschools. Preschools may only run for half days or part-time schedules. Daycares are often open year-round, unlike many preschools which close during the summer and on holidays (or provide camps during these times).

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Touring a Daycare or Preschool

When you are looking for the right daycare center or preschool, an important step is to tour each of the facilities that interest you. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before touring childcare centers that you will be considering:

  • What type of daycare or preschool environment would you feel most comfortable choosing for your child? For example, are you looking for a small, nurturing environment with just a few kids, or a larger program with many children and a larger variety of programs available?
  • Are you looking for a certain educational philosophy for your child’s daycare or preschool, such as a Montessori approach to learning or a more traditional approach?
  • What types of specific needs does your child have, such as toilet training, napping, or socializing? How does each preschool or daycare address these needs?
  • Are you looking for a preschool or daycare located near your workplace or your home? If the preschool is a private school, are the fees within your budget?
  • What kinds of needs do you have regarding your schedule? What hours would you prefer that the daycare center or preschool you choose be open to care for your child?

At Parker-Chase Preschool, both of our campuses are open from 7:00 AM to 6:30 PM. We also offer an exciting 10-week summer camp program at our Plano location to keep kids learning and having fun throughout the summer.