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The Difference Between Preschool and Daycare


New parents want what's best for their children, especially when they have to part ways with their kiddos to go to work each day. One common decision parents must make is whether to send their children to daycare or preschool. There are clear differences between the two that you should take into account when choosing. Here are a few to consider:

What is a preschool?

Most preschools accept students from ages 3-5. These children are learning and growing but not old enough to attend kindergarten. Preschool provides a foundation for older toddlers to build on when they reach elementary school. These facilities typically follow similar schedules to regular school, meaning they are closed on holidays and during the summer. Preschool is often just a half a day long, but some offer full days as well. 

What is daycare?

Daycare is more geared toward providing a safe environment for children to stay when their parents are otherwise engaged. Kids here play with others of their age group. Daycare provides parents with the ability to go to work and not fret about leaving their kids with a babysitter or the expense of hiring a private nanny. Daycares do not follow a school schedule, which means they offer longer hours and are open during holidays and school breaks. Infants to kids who aren't yet old enough to go to kindergarten are typically accepted into daycare. 

daycare, preschoolDaycare is a place for children to play and socialize.

Which should you choose?

What do you want your child to get out his or her time while you're at work? Would you like those hour spent on purposeful learning or more social interaction and play? Do you prefer that your child is supervised by licensed teachers or daycare providers? If you work irregular hours or a longer day than a 9-5, a daycare may be your best option as preschools offer limited hours. Your child's age is also a factor as he or she may not be old enough to attend preschool yet but can go to daycare until that time comes. It's also important to consider cost when making this decision. 

One way to get better insight into whether daycare or preschool is right for your child is to tour the facility. Talk with the teachers or care providers to learn about daily routines and get to know some of the individual staff members. There is no one right answer as to which option is best, but it can come down to how you like the facility (Is it clean and well-designed, with ample activities available?) and the people. Look for friendly and knowledgeable staff who can handle daily leadership as well as thrive in case of an emergency such as an injury or an allergic reaction. Daycares and preschools are held to high state standards, so you can be sure that wherever your child spends his or her weekdays will be safe and enriching. 

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