What’s The Difference Between Daycare And Preschool?

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    When the time comes to enrol a child in an age-appropriate programme, parents find themselves with a huge decision to make.

    They are looking at preschool vs. daycare or child care (here's a quick explanation of why we prefer to call it child care) and doing all the research to ensure they are making the right choice, one that will benefit their child for years to come.

    Not only is it important to know that you are putting your child in a daytime facility that you can trust and where they can grow and have fun, but you have to consider the licencing, the educational programme, and the overall reputation of the organisation.

    So many questions may arise, and parents need to be well-informed on the schedule and curriculum of the programme that they ultimately choose. Let's take a different look so that when it comes time to make this all-important choice, parents have all the information needed to ensure that their decision is right.

    The words "preschool" and "daycare" or "child care" may be used interchangeably among parents, but this is incorrect. While both offer great advantages to children, it is important to understand the difference between preschool vs. child care to make a choice that best suits your child's needs. One of the most notable differences is the ages of the kids that attend either programme.

    Child care programmes typically accept children in the age range of about 6 weeks and older, while preschool generally is for children ages 2-5 years of age. In a preschool programme, learning pre-academic skills is the main objective. Thus, the programme focuses on the children's educational needs to prepare them for development in the years that follow.

    For the most part, child care is about providing services to parents when they need it most — during the day's working hours. It focuses much more on games and free play than a preschool does. As a result, babies, toddlers, and children have a safe and secure place to go where they will receive daily necessities such as feeding, napping, and activities. Although people may not think kids are learning at child care, they are.

    Every child deserves the best possible care, so it is expected that parents will have questions when they are considering preschool vs. child care. Parents can rest assured that licencing is required for both preschool and child care, so their children are as well taken care of as possible no matter which programme they choose. Staff is trained and qualified to deal with all the different situations that arise, and as any adult who has ever been in the presence of kids knows, no two days are alike! Now, every parent can be well-informed about the difference between preschool vs daycare. Looking for an early learning centre in Sydney ? Then Little Angels early learning centre  is what you’re looking for. 

    New parents want what's best for their children, especially when they have to part ways with their kiddos to go to work each day. One common decision parents must make whether to send their children to daycare or preschool. However, there are clear differences between the two that you should take into account when choosing.

    What Is Preschool?

    A preschool, also known as a pre-primary or playschool, is a learning environment that provides early childhood education to children before they start attending elementary school. Other names for a preschool include a nursery school or kindergarten. In a perfect world, children who have graduated from the toddler age range (two and a half to five years) are eligible for preschool. It places an emphasis on the development of the child and lays the groundwork for later years of schooling.

    These youngsters are gaining knowledge and developing, but they are not yet old enough to start attending kindergarten. When they reach the elementary school level, older toddlers can build on the foundation that was established in preschool. These facilities, in most cases, adhere to schedules that are very similar to those of regular schools, which means that they are typically closed on holidays and for the entire summer. The typical length of time spent in preschool is just one half day; however, some programmes extend it to an entire day.


    • The focus is on the child's education and development.
    • It doesn't open during the holidays.
    • Caters to the age group of 2.5 – 5 years
    • Open for shorter hours, usually for three to four hours.
    • Typically has day-scholars
    • Different preschools have different methodologies such as Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, play-based and religious models.

    Preschool Has Many Benefits

    When it comes to preschool, some parents may not always be aware of what to anticipate for their children. The good news is that it does not have to be intimidating, and the fact that preschool is beneficial to each child in a variety of ways may provide some much-needed solace. How so? To begin, it is one of the most efficient ways to get a child ready for kindergarten, and children who take part in the programme have a significant advantage that will serve them well in the years to come if they continue to participate.

    It improves the children's sense of security, helps them learn more words before they start school, and leads to an increase in the academic ability of children who attend the programme. In general, children who attend preschool are more likely to acquire better pre-reading and math skills than children who do not attend preschool. This lays a stronger foundation for when these children are ready to start school in the years to come.

    What Is Daycare?

    A daycare centre, also known as a creche, is a facility that cares for children. Daycare centres cater primarily to working parents, and their primary responsibilities include providing the child with food, putting them to sleep, and ensuring that they get some play time in each day.

    Daycare is typically reserved for younger children (infants to 10 years old), as they are the ones who are required to spend the longest amount of time away from home (five to eight hours). However, older children also attend daycare after school hours. There are many ways in which preschool and daycare are not the same, but there are also some ways in which they are. Continue reading to find out what they are.

    The primary objective of daycare centres is to offer a protected setting for children to remain in while their parents attend to other responsibilities. The children of this area enjoy playing with other children of the same age. Additionally, daycare allows parents to go to work without the stress of worrying about leaving their children with a babysitter or the financial burden of hiring a private nanny. This is a significant advantage for working parents.

    Daycares do not operate on the same schedule as schools; as a result, they are able to provide longer hours and remain open during holidays and other times when schools are closed. Daycares typically take in children as young as infants and up until they reach the age where they are eligible to start kindergarten.


    • The child's development is not the top priority here. Instead, the focus is on taking care of the child and keeping them active.
    • Works during the holidays as well
    • It is suitable for a wide age group – from infants to older children.
    • Provides full-time care and is open for a longer duration, usually for eight to nine hours
    • Typically has children of working parents.
    • It has free play, nap time, and informal learning.

    Similarities Between Preschool And Daycare:

    • Several preschools have an extended daycare, where the children can stay back after school hours.
    • Daycares and preschools require licensing and accreditations to run them.
    • The safety of the children is a top priority in both cases.
    • They need to have qualified and trained staff to educate and train the children. The fee structure is almost the same.

    You will need to decide between daycare and preschool for your young child if they are old enough to spend time away from you for more than a few hours.

    Preschool Or Daycare – What To Choose?

    This is a personal choice that should be made with consideration for the needs of your family.

    • Daycare may be suitable for working parents as it offers childcare services for longer hours.
    • If your child is too young, then you might want to opt for daycare.
    • If your child is a toddler and it's time for them to be initiated into formal learning, preschool might be a better choice.
    • Also, a preschool is a right place if you want your child to interact and play with the same-age kids.

    Whether your choice is a daycare or a preschool, you need to prepare a set of criteria for the centre to meet.

    Factors To Consider While Choosing A Preschool/ Daycare

    You need to decide what you want for your child and what you expect from the preschool or daycare that they will attend. Before you make a choice, there are a few things that you should think about, including the following:


    Determine the distance from your home or place of business to the centre.

    • If it is a daycare, choose the one closest to your work so that you can drop your child just before you go to work and pick it up right after work.
    • If it is preschool, it is good to have it near your house. If you're looking for a Early Learning Centre Sydney that develops children's unique capabilities, you’re in the right place. 

    Time spent

    Make a decision regarding the number of hours that your child will spend attending preschool or daycare.

    • Preschools operate from 9am to 12 pm, and daycares operate from 8 am to 8 pm.


    Some preschools also function as daycares, which allows them to continue providing child care services after the school day has ended.

    • If you are considering a preschool with an attached daycare, you need to learn about the transition period from preschool to daycare. What happens when most of the kids leave, and your child is alone?
    • If you are dropping your child at daycare even before the caretakers' arrive, you need to know whom to give instructions about.


    The curriculum of a preschool places an emphasis on early life education, whereas the curriculum of a daycare places an emphasis on childcare services as well as education and play.

    • The centre should engage the child and help their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.
    • A preschool should introduce language, phonetics, letters, numbers, environmental sciences, and culture-specific concepts to the child.
    • Children learn best through play, so there should be a combination of free play and structured play.
    • If the preschool is pressurizing the children with lots of homework, you might not want to enrol your child in such a school.
    • Check if the activities are age-appropriate.
    • The teacher-child relationship should be healthy. If the child is too scared of their teacher, it's not a good sign.

    Education and formal training of staff: 

    The employees working in preschools go through some sort of formal training, whereas the daycare workers might not get any training at all. However, the majority of preschools require their employees to fulfil a number of prerequisites before they can start working there.

    • The preschool employees are usually selected based on their approach to children and the teaching methods they use for a certain age group.
    • Daycare is more relaxed in its approach towards the teachers and staff. In most cases, the staff do not have to attend an examination or interview to get recruited.
    • In most states, the educational qualification required of a daycare staff is lower than that of a preschool employee.

    Teacher-child interaction:

    You have a responsibility to investigate the credentials of the teachers and caretakers, as well as their level of experience and their demeanour towards the young charges.

    • A happy teacher/ caretaker will make a happy child. The teacher-child interaction should be affectionate and respectful.
    • If the children are engaged in activities, and the teacher is preoccupied with something else, don't assume that she is not responsible. Effective teachers encourage children to be independent and resolve their conflicts while keeping an eye on them and interfering when required.

    Fees and payment method

    This is one of the more significant aspects that should be taken into account.

    • How much does the centre charge? If their fee structure is too high, do they offer the convenience of instalments? Is there any late fee policy?
    • How does the daycare charge for the additional hours?
    • Are there any extra charges for the snacks or activities?

    The ratio of caretakers to children: 

    At the centre, it is reasonable for you to anticipate receiving one-on-one attention from your child. So, check if:

    • Your child gets attention even when there are too many kids. Especially if it's an infant, they need to keep an eye on him constantly.
    • Select a preschool/ daycare where the teacher/ caretaker-child ratio is low.

    Diaper rules:

    Children in preschool and those who are still using diapers need to have them.

    • Most preschools are strict in their diaper policies and require your child to be potty trained before starting classes. But in daycares, potty training is part of childcare.
    • If the child is already diaper-trained, it could be a bonus for you as there will not be any problems in starting a preschool.
    • Most daycare centres take in children who are still in diapers, as they also care for younger babies who are not yet potty trained.
    • Whether you are about to begin potty training your child or are already in the middle of it, you can still send your child to daycare and continue with the training at home.

    Be aware of the daily routine: 


    Keep in mind that it is necessary for your child to be content and at ease with the general routine that is followed at the centre.

    • Do they have activities such as storytelling, playtime, and dance or music?
    • What is their snack time, study time, and playtime?

    Food allergies: 

    You are obligated to let the preschool or daycare staff know about any food allergies that your child may have if they have one.

    • Check how they are going to manage if your child develops any allergies.
    • Do they have a nurse or a doctor in case of emergencies?

    Tracking milestones: 

    • Your child will be spending some time away from you.
    • You need to check with the preschool/ daycare if they have any program to track the child's milestones.
    • You also need to keep the daycare personnel informed about the milestones your child is likely to reach during that specific time.

    Interaction with other children: 

    How exactly do the centres make social interaction and interaction between individuals easier to achieve?

    • Children in daycares are exposed to a mixed age group of kids. So, they get an opportunity to socialize with everyone, including caretakers.
    • Interaction in preschools is limited to their age group of kids and teachers. Searching for a Sydney childcare that helps your child develop, keep up & excel. Check us out! 
    • So, you must have gotten an idea of where you want to put your child. But before you finalize it, make a note of a few more points.

    Things To Remember

    Here are a few important things to consider:

    • Check out the preschool and daycare centre options near your home or workplace and ask yourself which one feels better.
    • Talk to the preschool/ daycare head, teachers, caretakers. Would your child instantly take a liking to them or seem intimidated or scared?
    • Take note of the environment and hygiene of the place — ventilation, safety, baby-proofing, etc.
    • What toys do they have? Is it safe to play with them?
    • Ask the teachers and staff about the teaching policies they adopt. Ask them how they deal with children, even with those who may be difficult to handle.
    • Compare the centre's timings with your work timings or weekend schedule.
    • Look at the age of the children who are attending preschool/ daycare. Do you want your child to mingle with the age groups you see?
    • Interact with the parents who come to collect or drop their children at the centre. Take feedback from them and find out if they are working parents or just leaving the kids there for social interaction.
    • Find out about the activities offered at the centres. Do you feel the activities will be a great learning tool for your child?
    • Take a look at the children who are leaving the centre at the end of the day. Do they seem happy and well-cared? Or do they seem tired, disinterested or bored? Do the children turn back happily and wave to the staff, or do they rush out and want to go home?
    • Check if the centre is following the rules stipulated by the state. Do a background check to know if the centres are being run legally. Check the ratings, get referrals, and inquire about them.

    Your child will make their first steps towards having consistent social interactions when they attend a preschool or daycare. In addition, the child gets used to being absent from home for a period of time before beginning their formal education so that they will not miss their family and friends as much. Therefore, it is important to select a centre in which your child will feel welcome, safe, and excited to go.

    FAQs About Daycare And Preschool

    While centre-based care is typically provided only to children from a few weeks to five years old, family day care provides care for children up to 12 years old. Ultimately, deciding on the type of care you want for your child will depend on your needs and your preferences.

    Family day care is where a child is educated in a small group in a family style atmosphere at an educator's home, seeing the same educator or educators each day. ... The educator's children must be counted in those seven children if they are under 13 years and not being cared for by another adult at the premises.

    Overall, the average child care cost for one child in 2020 was $612/week for a nanny (up from $565/week in 2019), $340/week for a child care or day care center (up from $182/week) and $300/week for a family care center (up from $177/week).

    Daycare refers to the care provided for infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children, either in their own homes, in the home of a relative or other caregiver, or a centre-based facility.

    Preschool programs help children learn through play. Through play, children develop communication, social, physical, problem-solving and creative skills. Children can generally go to preschool in the year they turn 4. Some states and territories offer preschool for 3-year-olds.

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