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Parents want what is best for their children, particularly when deciding on childcare and early childhood education options. One typical decision parents often make is whether to send their children to preschool or daycare. When considering the options, it is helpful to understand the distinctions between preschool and daycare so that parents can make the best choice for their child.
Often, people use the words “preschool” and “daycare” interchangeably. While there is occasionally some overlap, preschool and daycare generally have a different approach and offer different services to parents and children.
Education vs. Supervision
Fundamentally, the difference between preschool and daycare is a focus on education. Preschool programs are designed to prepare children for the formal school environment and introduce them to basic educational concepts, such as numbers, shapes, and letters. In addition, art, games, and other fun activities are incorporated into the preschool experience. Because preschools serve to introduce young children to a program that resembles the primary school schedule, preschool tends to be more structured and organized.
Daycare, on the other hand, takes more of a supervisory approach. Daycares mainly offer childcare services while the parent or guardian of the child is away at work or taking care of other commitments. Rather than intentionally preparing children for school, daycare focuses on meeting the basic needs of children. Activities such as playtime, mealtime, naptime, and TV time make up a large part of the daycare experience. Although the emphasis at daycare is not primarily educational, some daycares offer learning opportunities and academic curriculum.
Hours of Operation
Because preschools are focused on teaching early learners as opposed to simply providing childcare services, they operate within fewer hours than do daycares. While preschools last for a few hours or a half-day, daycare services are usually available on a timeframe that is convenient for working parents. For example, daycares generally open in the early morning so that parents can drop off their children before heading on to work. After getting off work, parents pick their children up from daycare later in the afternoon or even in the early evening.
Also, preschools tend to observe holidays and close during the summer, similar to the traditional school schedule. Daycares operate on a much broader schedule, providing childcare throughout the year.
Teachers and Caregivers
All states have requirements stating that teachers at both preschools and daycares must have a minimum amount of experience. Because preschools are more geared towards laying down an educational foundation, their staff may have a wider breadth of experience.
Preschool or Daycare: Which Is the Right Choice?
Preschools and daycares each offer their own benefits, and only a family can decide what is best for their schedule and the needs of their child. One family may want to prepare their child for school while another family needs the flexibility that daycare offers.
However, if early educational instruction is what a family is looking for, then a preschool learning center is the clear choice. The structured approach helps children adapt quickly to kindergarten, and the educational emphasis provides young learners with a solid foundation for their K-12 journey. By encouraging children in their interests, preschool teachers guide each child in fun activities that foster essential learning skills.
Writing for Parents.com, Kathleen McCartney, Ph.D., the dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education, notes, “There’s increasing evidence that children gain a lot from going to preschool. At preschool, they become exposed to numbers, letters, and shapes. And, more important, they learn how to socialize — get along with other children, share, contribute to circle time.”
The Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy Difference
Unlike many daycare centers or childcare providers, the Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy methodology focuses on a whole-child approach. Teachers welcome diversity, and programs encourage each child’s individual strengths and interests. Guided by the expertise of the teaching team and a partnership with parents, Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy of Circa FishHawk strives to strengthen and nurture the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical well-being of children.
For more information about the Circa FishHawk, FL preschool, visit the Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy of Circa FishHawk website at kidsrkids.com/circa-fishhawk. The staff can be reached by phone at (813) 654-7000.