The Difference in a Daycare and a Preschool

Searching for childcare options is a normal part of being a parent in the workforce.  The good news is that there are many options to choose from. Many parents begin the search for the right childcare option by looking at relatives.  If relatives are unavailable, they then begin to look for a facility that they can trust to keep their children.

Parents often make the mistake of using the terms Daycare and Preschool interchangeably.  It is important to understand that when it comes to childcare facilities, Daycares and Preschools are not the same things. Here are some of the common differences in a Daycare and a Preschool. It is important to note that these differences do not apply to all facilities and each facility is unique by nature.  This is a generalized list to provide a general idea of common differences between the two.



One common difference in Daycares and Preschools are their hours of operation.  Daycare facilities tend to have longer hours because the goal is to provide childcare while parents are at work.  Preschool is aimed at ensuring children are ready to start Kindergarten. For this reason, many preschools operate under the same hours as the school systems.  Preschools also often have stricter and shorter times for drop-offs and pick-ups than Daycares.


 Daycares and preschools also tend to have different enrollment requirements.  Preschools tend to require more forms of documentation than preschools. Typically, children that are enrolled in a preschool must be potty-trained, whereas that is not necessarily a requirement of daycare.  Children in a preschool must be old enough to function in a school like setting, wherein daycares this is not an issue. Many preschools operate as part of a school system. For this reason, enrollment typically involves the same forms as enrolling a child in public and/or private school.



Daycare facilities and preschools also typically have different qualifications than what is required of their staff.  Preschool staff normally have some type of early childhood educational background or experience. There is typically some type of certification or training involved.  With Daycare facilities, typically anyone can apply and training is normally less intense. However, daycares do typically hire individuals with some type of background, certification, or training in early childhood development/education before other applicants.                                               


The structure of a Daycare varies from what is found in a Preschool.  Daycares are typically less structured than a preschool. They typically take younger children, meaning that the ability to have a curriculum is less likely by nature.   While older children in a daycare may learn basics (colors, numbers, animals) they are less likely to learn the same level of things as what children in a preschool learning. 

Preschools are typically more structured. They are aimed at teaching children what they need to know to enter into the school system. There is a higher level of structure with a preschool facility because these facilities are designed to get children ready for school.  They typically teach them the fundamentals that are needed to start and be successful in Kindergarten. Preschools are often more structured and more curriculum based than Daycare Facilities.



The price of these facilities also differs.  Based on the option that is chosen, however, it is up for debate on which one is cheaper.  Typically, families can find Preschool options that are part of the public-school systems. This has a lot to do with the emphasis put on early interventions for various learning disabilities in recent years.  You can also typically find Preschools that are extremely cheap based on educational purposes. For example, many colleges have preschool programs where students design and run the classroom. This is cheaper due to the fact students are providing care while under the supervision of an instructor.  However, private preschools can be more expensive than a common daycare. Daycares typically have more opportunities for subsidies than preschools. Private preschools are also typically more expensive than daycares.  




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