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Is there a difference between a daycare center and a preschool?

Sorry if this might seem like a stupid question, but I'm really at somewhat of a loss. My son is almost 3 and currently in a home center. While I like the fact that he's with only one other child his age, I really want him to get the classroom experience before starting kindergarten. His birthday is in late October so he'll start school older than most of his classmates. So I'm hoping to enroll him in preschool next fall. I'm just doing preliminary research, but I'm trying to figure out if there's even a difference. If I enroll him in a regular daycare center, will he get the same type of learning experience as he would in a center that's labeled "preschool?" Most actual preschools, I've found only operate half days 2-3 days a week. As a working parent, I need something all day, everyday. Sorry again if this seems stupid, but like every mom, I only want to do what is best for my son. :) Thanks.

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Asked by Journey311 at 9:21 PM on Sep. 1, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 20 (9,010 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • Yes there is. Usually the ones that run a couple hours a day for a couple days a week are like for children that may be behind or if the parents have an economic need. These can be found at public schools and churches. I liked the idea of having a place that was like a bit of both prek and daycare all in one. Kindercare centers are really awesome but they can be expensive.


    Answer by legalmommy101 at 9:38 PM on Sep. 1, 2009

  • Hi

    Curriculum is what seperates the two. Ask to look at their curriculum.

    If he is going to be 4 by next year, he should be able to go to VPK. Pick a public school (if you plan to send him to public school Kindergarten) so he is used to that specific structure.

    This is coming from a professional teacher.

    Answer by charisma10 at 10:25 PM on Sep. 1, 2009

  • Let me clarify something real quick. Nathan will be 3 this October so next year when he starts pre-school, he'll be in a 3 year old class or K3 or whatever the school calls it. Since his birthday is so late in the year, he's past the cut off date for the elementary schools, so he'll start school a year after most of his little buddies born in 2006. I really want him to get a solid 2 years in a classroom setting before he starts kindergarten so I'll move him from his home center next fall. Thanks for the answers so far!

    Answer by Journey311 at 10:38 PM on Sep. 1, 2009

  • A preschool usually runs half days and is kindergarten readiness. Most do not provide care before or after the preschool session and is cheaper than a day care. A day care is for care while a parent is working. They do some acadmemics but not as much as a preschool. There is more play going on in a day care and napping. I currenlty teach in a preschool, we have NO kids under 3, ALL kids are completely potty trained. I have also worked in day cares and it is much different. I would much rather work in a preschool than a day care.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 10:45 PM on Sep. 1, 2009

  • I'm gonna PM you cause I ran out of room.

    Answer by momjoy1027 at 10:47 PM on Sep. 1, 2009

  • My son starts preschool tomorrow and the biggest difference is as most have mentioned the 'structure' My sons preschool is at a daycare/afterschool center but there is a world of difference between the 4 year old class & the more at four preschool program that my son will be attending. It's more school like, they do more school structured activities and they take field trips and stuff like that but he goes full days (8-2:45 mon-fri)

    Answer by KalebsMommee at 11:40 PM on Sep. 1, 2009

  • I had my son in a Home Daycare that taught Preschool concepts until I decided to homeschool. We still go to visit. He had kids of varying ages to be with and was (in my opion) able to learn easier because the kids about to enter Kindergarten were worked with more and the little ones got to just absorb without feeling pressured. I would look at what each provides and compare curriculms. Also consider that he should be ready both academically and socially for it. Some children are not quite ready for a classroom enviroment but do well in a more relaxed setting. Good luck.

    Answer by ljdsnow at 10:14 AM on Sep. 2, 2009

  • yes big difference between daycare and prek... can your sitter transport him to the prek... that would be best imo, my son goes to montessori prek and they have half and full days available, keep looking, daycares dont really teach much of anything and most are a mad house... really a worse experience than no schooling ....

    Answer by AmaliaD at 11:09 AM on Sep. 2, 2009

  • Daycare is full time for raising kids while their parents are out at work. Preschool is generally a few hours each week, maybe a couple of days or a few mornings a week and it's about educating kids. Daycare will deal with all the issues parents deal with because they are effectively the parents for 40+ hours a week usually. Preschool requires kids to be toilet trained and so on.

    You can enroll him in a full time preschool which is generally quite expensive; I looked at a part time program at a full time preschool for my son and the full time rate was $17,000 for the year. If he's currently in home care then you might want to leave him there and enroll him in preschool a couple of days a week if the caretaker can bring him to preschool and pick him up or you can do that.

    Answer by RhondaVeggie at 2:51 PM on Sep. 2, 2009

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