Preschool or daycare? How are they different? How are they similar? To learn more about preschools and daycares, read on.

What is Preschool?

Preschool is usually available to children between the ages of three to five. It promotes learning and socialization in children that aren’t quite old enough for kindergarten. Many children in preschool programs are taught skills that they’ll need to have when they start kindergarten.

What Is Daycare?

Typically, daycare is a form of affordable, flexible childcare that serves a wide variety of age groups (birth to school age). Daycare is usually developmentally based learning, and play activities are prepared around a child’s developmental level.

How Are They Different?

Preschools serve a limited age group (typically from ages three to five), and children must be potty-trained. They also tend to have limited hours (a few hours, a couple of times a week), and they’re typically closed on major holidays and during school breaks. Preschools must also hold state licenses, and the staff must at least have some background in early childhood education.

Daycares serve a wide range of ages (birth to school age). They tend to have flexible, extended hours and are typically open on some holidays and/or school breaks. Staff are not necessarily required to have a background in early childhood education. They may receive their education on-the-job through workshops and firsthand experience working with children.

How Are They Similar?

There is a common misconception that daycare is just a place for children to play. However, daycares and preschools must both meet the same state licensing and accreditation standards, which are usually regulated by the state.

Also, the cost is generally about the same. However, it can vary, depending on the amount of time children spend in the facility.

They both also tend to provide learning activities that are catered to specific age groups.

How They Approach Education

Both preschools and daycares provide educational activities for children, but they do approach the topic a bit differently. Preschools provide structured, subject-based activities for children—while daycares provide developmentally based activities.

Daycare teachers tend to structure their learning activities in ways that promote social, emotional, and cognitive development in children. Meanwhile, preschools structure these activities in ways that promote learning in core subjects (such as math, reading, art, and science).

The Nuts and Bolts

Choosing the right care for your child is difficult—whether it’s a preschool or a daycare. But what it comes down to is whether or not you’re happy with the quality of care and education that your child is receiving.

Some children do better in preschool, and others do better in daycare. But at the end of the day, it’s your choice. As long as they meet the needs of your child, preschools and daycares can both be good options.