Preschool vs Daycare: What Are the Differences?

Public schools in the United States begin at the age of 4 or 5. However, you can enroll your child in preschool at a younger age.

Maybe you’re a new parent, or perhaps you’re preparing to become one. Either way, you’ve probably spent some time thinking about where you’d like your child to start their schooling. Both preschool and daycare offer advantages to your child that could propel them into a bright future.

But while they’re both useful, they’re also quite different. This guide will show you the differences by comparing preschool vs daycare.

Age Served for Preschool vs Daycare

There are a few key differences between what is preschool and what is daycare. Age is the most notable distinction.

A daycare is generally for infants as well as younger kids. But, there are also those that cater to older age groups. In a daycare, the classes are usually divided into infant and toddler classes. 

The younger and older toddlers may also be grouped separately because they have different physical and communication abilities. Many of the preschools accept children who are three to five years old, but some accept younger ones.

Ratio of Child to Caregiver

When looking at preschool vs daycare, one big difference is the ratio of children to caregivers. A typical daycare center may have a 1:5 or 1:6 ratio, meaning one caregiver for every five or six children. This means that there are more caregivers for fewer children, resulting in more individualized care and educational experience for each child.

A preschool, on the other hand, may have a 1:10 or 1:17 ratio. This is because a 4-year-old can behave better than an infant or a toddler. However, it is essential to note that ratios are not the only factor to consider when choosing a care program for your child. 

What the Kids Learn

At preschool, kids learn academics like counting and the alphabet. They learn to follow the rules and to cooperate with others.

They also learn social skills, like how to make friends and how to share. It is the focus of preschool to prepare the kids for kindergarten. Have a look at the pros and cons of sending your child to preschool in this preschool guide.

At daycare, kids learn some academic skills and more on free-play time. But they also learn how to take care of themselves and how to play with other kids.

How Much is the Cost

The average cost of daycare in the United States is about $11,896 per year or about $991 per month. The average cost of preschool is about $9,254 per year or about $771 per month.

The major difference in cost is due to the differing philosophies of the two types of care. Daycare is typically geared towards providing a safe place for children to stay while their parents are working. Preschools, on the other hand, are geared towards providing an educational environment for children.

Choose the Right Childcare Program for Your Kids

When you think your child is ready to go to school, childcare programs are available. It’s good to assess preschool vs daycare as these are two choices for early childhood education. They both have pros and cons, so it is important to decide based on what is best for your child.

If you are looking for a more academic environment for your child, then preschool is the better choice. If you are looking for more of a social environment for your child, then daycare is the better option.

Want to know more about early education? Check out some of our other posts and learn as much as you can!