Key Differences Between Daycare and Preschool


Key Differences Between Daycare and Preschool

differences between preschool and daycare

The research is clear: high-quality early childhood education programs benefit young children. As a parent, how can you make sure you’re choosing the right early learning program for your child?

There are several types of early learning programs. Many people use the terms “daycare” and “preschool” to mean the same thing. However, there are some key differences between these kinds of programs.

Understanding the differences between different child care programs can help you make the best decision for your family. This article will outline some of the most significant differences between daycare and preschool programs.

Reach out to the outstanding educators at New Horizons to explore our early learning programs. We can answer your questions and help you schedule a tour of our learning center. We look forward to meeting you and your child soon.

Daycare and Preschool: An Overview

There are several types of childcare programs. Here is an overview of daycare and preschool programs.


Daycare programs provide safe, nurturing care for children of all ages. Many daycares provide care for infants, preschool-aged children, and even school-aged children.

Millions of parents rely on daycare programs to provide safe care for their children so they can go to work. Daycare programs often offer full-day care. Many centers accept children very early in the morning and remain open into the early evening.

Flexible hours allow working parents to balance their professional needs while knowing their child is in a safe, loving environment. Children may engage in free play, outdoor time, and some structured learning projects. Daycare typically does not follow a formal curriculum.


Preschool programs provide structured, play-based learning for children three to five years old. Parents may choose between half and whole-day programs. Preschool program hours are often much shorter than daycare hours. Preschools usually close for holidays and during the summer.

Educators typically use a specialized curriculum that can prepare children for Kindergarten success. A preschool curriculum focuses on:

Early learning teachers have special training and education in child development. They understand children’s developmental needs.

Research shows that children who attend a high-quality preschool program often have better outcomes in elementary school. Participating in preschool can help children transition smoothly into kindergarten.

The Benefits of Daycare and Preschool

Daycare and preschool programs provide different benefits. Understanding these benefits can help you make the best choice for your child.

Here are some of the most significant benefits of daycare and preschool programs.

The benefits of daycare

Daycare programs offer safe care for children of many ages. Some of the benefits of daycare include:

  • Providing care for a wide age range, beginning with infants
  • The option for full-time care
  • The ability to interact with children of all ages throughout the day
  • Consistent care throughout early childhood

Daycare centers provide an essential community service by providing reliable, year-round care for young children.

The benefits of preschool

Children develop essential school-readiness skills in preschool. Some of the most significant benefits of early preschool programs include:

  • Improved communication skills
  • Better social and emotional skills
  • Increased resilience and creativity
  • More self-esteem and confidence
  • Increased independence
  • A strong academic foundation
  • A reliable schedule
  • An evidence-based curriculum
  • Educated, experienced teachers
  • A nurturing, enriching environment

Preschool is more than just childcare. It is an introduction to school programs that can help kids thrive in Kindergarten and beyond.

Daycare vs Preschool: Which is Right For My Child?

Daycares and preschools can provide enriching care. It is essential to choose the type of care that best meets your family’s needs.

Here are some of the most important things to consider when choosing between preschool and daycare programs.


A daycare offers the option of full-time care. Children may spend long days in daycare centers. Preschool programs typically offer fewer hours and have more breaks throughout the year.

A daycare center will often open very early in the morning and remain open into the early evening. This gives working parents the flexibility to balance parenting and work schedules.


Children must be fully potty-trained before attending most preschool programs. Staff may be able to help with the occasional accident, of course. However, teachers expect children to use the bathroom independently at school.

Daycare programs typically accept children who are not potty-trained. Staff members change diapers and can assist children in the bathroom as needed.

Educational approach

Children benefit from spending time with others and playing in an enriching environment. Daycare programs may not follow a specific curriculum. However, daycare staff may regularly provide enriching educational activities.

Preschool programs focus specifically on preparing children for Kindergarten. Educated teachers and staff develop and facilitate educational activities each day. These can help children build a foundation of knowledge that will benefit them throughout elementary school.

If you or a parent in your life needs help deciding between daycare and preschool, reach out to the New Horizons team now. Our amazing staff can give you information about our programs, answer questions, and schedule a tour. We look forward to meeting you soon.

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