Once their children reach toddler age, many parents begin thinking about preschool or day care. Especially when seeking admission into prestigious, expensive private preschools, some parents begin their search much earlier than that to ensure the best early childhood education experience possible for their child. Parents are ready and willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars each year for their child’s private preschool education. But when one gets down to the basic elements of preschool, is it really much different than an expensive day care facility?
The widely accepted understanding of preschool is to prepare a young child, usually between three and five years old, for kindergarten. Children who have previously spent most of their time at home with their parents are placed in a setting with other children with whom they can practice social skills. Early childhood development and education is emphasized, as preschoolers practice learning the alphabet and play with educational toys. At the same time, the time children spend away from home in preschool is a source of day care for working parents.
The biggest difference between day care and preschool is that day care centers typically provide full-time child care, as well as care for children as young as infancy. Day care centers are also open when most schools are on break or holiday. With day care, there is generally more of a custodial emphasis, with parents mostly concerned with having their children looked after while they’re working. However, a good day care service will also provide excellent early childhood education – the same cognitive, social, and physical development-focused curriculum as preschools. And as far as accreditation goes, day care centers must also meet the same licensing and accreditation criteria as preschools.
Although day cares and preschools may cater to different time and age-specific needs, educationally they offer few differences. Both environments are designed to care for your child while you’re at work, as well as provide them with valuable development-centered education. So if your child is currently in day care and is doing well, it’s probably best to keep them there until kindergarten rather than switch them into a preschool. If you feel as though your child isn’t getting enough out of their day care experience, consider this Independence preschool center, which provides both day care and early childhood education for toddlers through school age children.