Daycare vs. Preschool


I was reading a message board from a parent that was looking for a Preschool for her 2-year-old child in the city where I live. She felt that we did not have Preschools here, since they did not meet a specific criterion that she was looking for.

Age 4

Let’s first define Preschool: Based on Wikipedia, “A preschool, also known as nursery schoolper-primary school, or play school, is an educational establishment or learning space offering early childhood education to children before they begin compulsory education at primary school. It may be publicly or privately operated, and may be subsidized from public funds.”

This parent wanted a school that provided care for ages two- years and up. She felt that schools that had infant care were Day-cares and not Preschools.

Now, let’s define Daycare: Based on Wikipedia, “Child care, otherwise known as Day care, is the care and supervision of a child or multiple children at a time, whose ages range from two weeks to twenty years. Child care is the action or skill of looking after children by a Day-care center, nannies, babysitter, teachers or other providers. 

Based on what the parent thought and based on each explanation of what Preschool is in comparison to Daycare, it would seen that the parent is correct.

In my opinion, there is a difference between a preschool and a daycare, and those differences are based on the requirements within the school setting. Some schools have all day, half-day and daily programs which could consist of 9-10 hour days for full daycare.

While others have 4-6 hour days for half daycare. While others have schedules that consist of certain days of the week, for example; a child might come on Tuesdays and Thursdays or Monday, Wednesdays and-Fridays only.


I believe that these types of schedules do not constitute as being Day-cares, since students are still in a learning environment.

Although they are not given structure learning all day. On some level they are still learning because they are playing and working with the toys in the classroom in different ways. Some part-time schedules can be constituted as daycare depending on the times that the students are attending.

Age 3


Any school can be perceived as a Daycare if there is no structure or guidelines that are followed. For example; a school where students are assigned to one teacher, but they are being transferred from class to class based on ratios and are never in the class that they were registered for, could be considered a daycare.

Or centers that do not have potty training requirements for students that are older than 3-year-olds, might also be considered a Daycare. Some might even consider a school that doesn’t have parent-teacher conferences, assessment standards, and monthly meetings and professional development days for teachers as Day-cares.

Age 4


In my opinion, preschool prepares each student for their next level of school learning. For example, a 2-year-old class gets students ready for the 3-year-old class and so on, until the student is ready for Elementary school.


If a school is not preparing students for the next phase of school readiness, no matter what the age group, then it is a Daycare, a place where a child can be watched with no set curriculum, lesson plan, or structure.

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Although each school can be a safe and a nurturing environment for students, each depends on what parents are looking for. If a school does not meet the parent’s criterion they might consider it a Daycare and not a Preschool.

I personally think that all schools should be called preschools, as daycare gives the wrong misconception of the purpose of preschool. Preschool shouldn’t only be about watching students while their parents go to work. That should only be a part of it.

Question: do you consider your center a Day-care or a Pre-school?
🌠Darla the teacher🌠

4 Thoughts

  1. I consider the center that I work at a Preschool. We have a set curriculum that we follow, their are potty training requirements that must be met, each child has a portfolio that moves along with them from one age group to the next. There are photos along with anecdotal notes written by the teacher based on observations of skills, performance, behaviors, and things that transpire within the classroom. We have conferences and provide the parents with progress reports 3 times a year. We also work closely with the school district to meet the needs of children that may require additional services that we are not equipped to deal with. As the Pre-K teacher/Curriculum Coordinator I monitor the lesson plans, and portfolios of each classroom to ensure that children are being prepared for the next room that they will be entering into at the start of the new school year.

    1. Thanks for your reply, sounds like your school is doing everything they can to get students ready for the next phase of their educational journey. I really like saying childcare or preschool and not a daycare, which works for you?

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